Craft Brew News # 42 – Amazon Under Investigation and AB InBev Likes Peruvian Beer


    Craft Brew News – 8/30/19

    (Courtesy of Brewbound.com)

    Amazon’s California Alcohol Delivery Service Under Investigation

    The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has opened an investigation into Amazon’s Prime Now beer, wine, and spirits delivery service in the state after wine database and news outlet Wine Searcher reported possible violations of California liquor law.

    According to California liquor law, alcohol delivery services are required to have brick-and-mortar stores that operate for at least half the hours of their delivery operation.

    When a Wine Searcher reporter went to visit the ecommerce giant’s brick-and-mortar location at 3334 North San Fernando Road in Los Angeles, there was no storefront to be found, the website reported. The reporter claimed he could only find an “Associate’s Entrance” to Amazon Flex Delivery Partners, its private delivery service.

    Wine Searcher alleged that Amazon, which was issued a liquor license in February, violated its license in several ways, including not displaying alcoholic beverages for sale, not having alcoholic beverages available for sale, and not posting store hours.

    Matthew Hydar, supervising agent for the California Department of ABC, told Wine Searcher that the article sparked the ABC’s investigation. He said if the accusations were proven, the ABC could potentially strip Amazon of its liquor license until it has established a brick-and-mortar store or fine the company. Another option would be for the case to go before an administrative law judge, although Hydar said he does not expect criminal charges against the company.

    Anheuser-Busch’s ZX Ventures Acquires Barbarian

    Anheuser-Busch InBev’s growth and innovation group, ZX Ventures, has acquired Peruvian craft brewery Barbarian. Financial details were not disclosed, although ZX acquired 100% of the company’s shares, according to La Republica.

    The acquisition was announced in Peru on August 13. Barbarian’s founders and collaborators will remain with the company, and ZX plans to triple Barbarian’s production by 2020, according to the outlet.

    Co-founder Ignacio Schwalb said “We know that Barbarian has an incredible growth potential and that is why we have made the decision to add an important partner, which will take Barbarian to the next level,”. “This partnership opens a new world full of possibilities and will give us the opportunity to look carefully at our processes and search for optimizations in order to strengthen the growth and sustainability of the brewery.”

    A-B InBev also owns Peruvian brewery Backus, which was obtained as part of the MegaBrew merger with SABMiller in 2015.

    Empire Farmstead Brewery Files for Bankruptcy

    New York’s Empire Farmstead Brewery and affiliate Empire Brewing Properties filed for Chapter 11 protection in the Northern District of New York’s Bankruptcy Court earlier this week, according to court records. News of the filing follows a July asset purchase agreement reached by the distressed brewing company and Wisconsin’s Burnett Dairy Cooperative for $3.25 million.

    Empire, which opened in June 2016, attributed the bankruptcy filing to delays and high costs during the brewery’s construction, as well as a 2016 wild yeast infection that caused the brewery to “pull back” all bottled beer from distribution.

    According to court records, the filing is to “to ensure the ongoing operations of the businesses so that they may be sold as going concerns, to market the Debtors’ assets for sale as going concerns through a competitive bidding process, and to address the Debtors’ financial difficulties for the benefit of their respective creditors.”

    In 2017, Empire began working with Community Bank in an effort to sell the brewery or refinance its debt.

    Wachusett Launches Fifty Trees Hard Cider Brand

    Massachusetts’ Wachusett Brewing Company is further diversifying its portfolio with the addition of a new cider brand, Fifty Trees Hard Cider. According to a press release, the cider will be available in two styles: Original, a semi-dry cider blended with European Bittersweets, and Cranberry, featuring locally sourced cranberries. Fifty Trees sources its apples from orchards in North Central Massachusetts.

    Wachusett president Christian McMahan said in the release “We have been making hard cider pretty consistently over the last two years,”. “We have done a ton of experimentation over that time and are proud to finally be able to launch Fifty Trees to a wider audience. ”

    In addition to beer, Wachusett’s portfolio includes the Nauti hard seltzer brand.

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