Here's a look at what has consumers buzzing in the world of beer, wine and spirits:
Ballsy Beer to Be Canned: It's a joke that keeps on delivering. Wynkoop Brewing made headlines last year with an April Fool's joke about brewing a beer using Rocky Mount Oysters aka bull testicles. Then they made even more headlines with news that they actually brewed it. Now they are at it again. Wynkoop has announced they will be canning the beer and selling it nationwide via Beerjobber.com The beer will be sold in, what else, cans of two. The folks at the Wynkoop are no strangers to having a little fun. They are also in the process of picking their annual Beer Drinker of the Year.
Nyet! Beer No Longer Considered Food in Russia: A New Year often brings with it a variety of new laws, but a legal change in Russia may have consumers crying in their beer. Before now, beer was consider a food item and was therefore largely unrestricted. Consumers could by it any time of day as if it were water. Those days are done. According to London's Daily Telegraph: "Beer's new status as alcohol, however, will prevent retail sales from street outlets such as kiosks, railway stations, bus stops and petrol stations – which account for up to 30 percent of sales – as well as preventing sales between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m., and introducing a ban on television advertising of beer."
Beer and Taxes: The Beer Institute made headlines with a report that claimed the most expensive ingredient in beer was taxes. Now the issue of beer and taxes is back in the news. Last month, the Center for Science in the Public Interest wrote a piece on The Hill.com that called for an increase in alcohol taxes, "which were last increased in 1991, the first major increase in 40 years (and) need a lot of basic retooling." The CSPI said a reworking of alcohol taxes could raise tens of billions of dollars.
Not so fast said Bob Pease, the COO of the Brewers Association, who claims an "increase the federal excise tax on beer would devastate – if not destroy – the small, independent Main Street American breweries that have developed all across our nation during the last 35 years, and which have created thousands and thousands of jobs for American workers."
Finally Slate.com sought an answer to when and why governments started to impose taxes on alcohol in the first place.
Fly Here Often?: As anyone who flies with any regularity can attest, air travel can be a grind. Now Virgin America is looking to bring a little civility back to skies. According to the Associated Press, the airline will soon launch a "send a drink" feature where "Passengers can use the plane's seatback entertainment system to buy their neighbors a margarita, merlot or maybe a shot of tequila."
Then There Were Three: For many consumers a trip down the aisle in a wine shop may seem like a dizzying experience with seemingly dozens of labels and brands to choose from. But a new study from a Michigan State University professor indicates the wine industry may be more consolidated than meets the eye. According to the study, a majority of wines can be traced back in some fashion to three companies: E&J Gallo Winery, The Wine Group and Constellation Brands.
Brooklyn Brewery Booming in Sweden: Brewery expansion was a major them of 2012. Now Brooklyn Brewery has gotten the expansion ball rolling in the New Year – with a twist. Brooklyn Brewery, D. Carnegie & Co., and Carlsberg Sweden have announced they are joining together to launch a new brewery and restaurant in central Stockholm. The Brooklyn-New Carnegie Brewery will be managed by Brooklyn Brewery through a wholly owned Swedish subsidiary. Brooklyn Brewmaster Garrett Oliver will be in charge of the beer. Carnegie is the oldest trademark in Sweden. The company was purchased by Carlsberg in 2001 and Carlsberg Sweden was established. Brooklyn Brewery brands have been imported by Carlsberg Sweden since 2006. Sweden is the largest export market for the Brooklyn Brewery and its number two beer market overall.
-By CNBC's Tom Rotunno; Follow him on Twitter @TomRotunno
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