This week, here's what's buzzing in beer, wine and spirits news: Guinness gets ready to pour 13 million pints of beer on St. Patrick's Day; what the cardinals were drinking at the Vatican; and the ultimate beer internship
1. Erin Go Guinness!: Nothing says Happy St. Patrick's Day like "Pionta Guinness led thoil," which any true Irishman can tell you is Gaelic for "a pint of Guinness please." Perhaps no brand has a stronger consumer tie in for St. Patrick's Day than Guinness. According to the brewery, "an estimated 13 million pints of Guinness are raised on St. Patrick's Day, more than 150 pints every second." Looking to spread the cheer, Guinness has partnered with the Leary Firefighters Foundation to raise over $100,000.
Meanwhile, the folks over at NerdWallet crunched some numbers on Guinness and according to their study the average six-pack of Guinness costs $10.38, while the average pint of Guinness at a bar is $4.68. NerdWallet data indicates consumers are expected to spend an average of $38 on beer this St. Patrick's Day. That works out to eight pints at the bar or 14 pints at home, by NerdWallet's calculations.
2. Vatican Wine and Beer: It was a week of intrigue as the College of Cardinals met behind closed doors at the Vatican to elect a new Pope of the Catholic Church. At the same time, the wine world was talking about a mysterious order of wine shipped to Vatican City this week. According to CBS-LA, Michael Carpenter, the owner of Redd Collection, said he received a call on Tuesday morning from a man who asked if the wine shop carried hundreds of bottles of 2008 Varvaglione "Papale" Primitivo di Manduria. Carpenter initially didn't think anything of the request—until he realized the call was coming from the Vatican and there are exactly 115 cardinals. Carpenter said the red Zinfandel, however, is no stranger to the Vatican. "That region (of Puglia, Italy) was actually named because Pope Benedict XIII in the 18th Century bought lots of wine from that region," he said.
Meanwhile a Benedictine monastery in San Benedetto, Italy, had the beer world buzzing after a blog post showed a couple of its monks delivered several cases of its beer to the Domus Sancta Martha, where the cardinal electors were staying during the conclave.
3. Miller Time for Interns: This is the time of year when many college students are looking to lock-in a summer internship. Now Miller Lite is partnering with upcoming 20th Century Fox film "The Internship," to offer "The Ultimate Miller Time Internship" to a group of four beer drinkers of any legal age. The winners of the two-week internship will travel across the U.S. in a customized Miller Time "Internship" RV," redesigned to feature all the elements of a great "man cave." According to Miller: "Instead of filing papers and fetching coffee, they'll deliver beer to the hottest pool party in Vegas, go behind the scenes to see how Miller Lite is brewed, become honorary members of (NASCAR's) Brad Keselowski's pit crew on race day and walk the red carpet in Los Angeles for the premiere of 'The Internship.'"
4. Bigger Beer Checks: The rising popularity of craft beer among consumers has been well documented but now a new study indicates craft beer may be winning fans among restaurant operators as well. The study, done by GuestMetrics, indicates "strong performance in craft beers is likely being at least partially driven by the higher average check by patrons who purchase craft beers, making the craft segment more attractive to restaurant operators."
According to the study, the average check when a customer orders a craft beer is $80, above the average for larger brands. According to GuestMetrics, the average check by major brands:
5. The Beer of Thrones: Fans of the HBO hit Game of Thrones know that drinking plays an important part in the culture of the show. Now consumers will be able to drink their own special brew while watching the series. HBO has partnered with Cooperstown, N.Y.-based Brewery Ommegang to create a series of beers in honor of the show. The debut beer is now being released in anticipation of the show's Season Three premier on March 31. Dubbed Iron Throne, the brew is a blonde ale with a 6.5-percent alcohol by volume.
6. Headbangers Beer: Heavy metal fans will now be able to give a proper toast to one of Rock's legendary bands. Iron Maiden has partnered with Britain's Robinsons Brewery to create "Trooper," a traditional English Ale named after one of the band's most popular songs.
On the Iron Maiden website, Oliver Robinson, managing director of Robinsons writes: "Not only do Iron Maiden genuinely enjoy a good pint of cask ale, but so do many of their fans—and they have an important part to play in our customer base. This partnership works for both of us. Music and beer are great treats for the senses in their own right, but the combination is very powerful. Authentic collaborations such as this are invaluable not only to our company but to the industry as a whole, because it shows that the world of real ale is more than just manufacturing, it is liquid artistry by the people who brew it—and for the people who drink it."
-By CNBC's Tom Rotunno; Follow him on Twitter @TomRotunno
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