Six stories that have them buzzing in the world of beer, wine and spirits this week:
1. Flying Dog Flying High: It's been a great month for Maryland-based Flying Dog Brewery. First, it won its beer bet with San Francisco-based Anchor Brewing on the basis of the Baltimore Ravens defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.
Now, they have announced the 2012 results of their charity work with the Oyster Recovery Partnership. Flying Dog donates a portion of proceeds from its Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout to the Oyster Recovery Partnership. From 2012 sales alone, the Oyster Recovery Partnership will be able to replant 750,000 oysters back into the Chesapeake Bay.
Finally, the brewery announced it's making it as easy as possible for home brewers to replicate its beers with Stove Toppers, all-grain home-brew kit for advanced home brewers that the brewery said "includes our exact ingredients and brew master's recipe, all scaled-down for a 5-gallon home brewery." Flying Dog will be offering one kit per month in 2013 and each kit will be on sale for that month only.
2. Mad About Modelo: Chicago-based Crown Imports finds itself caught in the middle of the antitrust battle between the Department of Justice and Anheuser-Busch InBev. The third largest beer importer in the U.S. based on sales volume, Crown is a 50-50 joint venture between Mexico-based brewer Grupo Modelo and Constellation Brands. The Crown portfolio includes Corona Extra, the No. 1 imported beer in the U.S. and No. 6 beer overall, but the unsung hero in the portfolio just might be the Modelo brand.
A graphic obtained by CNBC shows just how much the brand has grown since it made its U.S. debut in 1990. Modelo crossed the 43 million mark in 2012 up from just 7.7 million ten years earlier. It's posted 20 consecutive years of double-digit growth and grown to the No. 3 overall import beer in the U.S.
3. No Brotherly Love For Yuengling: Just a few months after Yuengling Brewery bought the city of Philadelphia a round of beer, the city is suing the brewery for more than $6 million. The city's lawsuit alleges Yuengling owes $4 million in back taxes for beer sales in Philadelphia and has added $2 million more in fees and damages.
Yuengling maintains it doesn't owe taxes since the beer is produced elsewhere and its wholesalers, distributors and retailers pay taxes to the city. Fifth-generation owner Dick Yuengling told a local radio station the city is looking to make an example of the brewery. However, the city says other brewers that don't produce beer in the city, but sell it there pay the tax.
4. Just Beer: As far as trademarks go, "Just Beer" is pretty self-explanatory. The trademark was acquired by Alchemy & Science, the craft beer incubation project headed by Magic Hat founder Alan Newman and Boston Beer's Jim Koch. Alchemy & Science acquired the trademark from Massachusetts-based Buzzard Bay Brewing for an undisclosed sum. The company apparently isn't saying much about exactly what it intends to do with the trademark, with Alan Newman simply telling Brewbound.com: "The testing involves a pair of beer styles being sold at a handful of Vermont retailers. Those beers are being brewed at Boston Beer Company's test brewery in Jamaica Plain, Mass."
5. A Beer for Diabetics: With more than 2,000 breweries operating in the U.S., there is no shortage of variety and styles. One potential entrant into the business thinks he has spotted an unfilled niche. Big Head Brewing is just an Kickstarter project of Wisconsin home brewer Andrew Dillard, but he tells the Wauwatosa Now he "laments not being able to share craft beer with his wife, a Type 1 diabetic. So he plans to meld the flavor of craft beer with the low sugar count of light beer." Dillard is hoping to raise $27,000 to help get his start-up brewery off the ground.
6. Bud Light Platinum Brings Sexy Back: The 2012 launch of Bud Light Platinum was one of the most successful beer brand launches in recent years. Now the brand is looking to turn up the volume. Anheuser-Busch InBev has announced that Justin Timberlake has signed on to be the brand's "creative and musical director." It's a good fit for a brand, which has positioned itself as the beer for the late-night club crowd, and for the brewery, which is increasing its association with music. Timberlake will make his Bud Light Platinum debut in ad that will run during the Grammy Awards.
-By CNBC's Tom Rotunno; Follow him on Twitter
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