The beer business puts up some big numbers, a Michigan brewery's annual release is so bright it inspired sunglasses and one of rock's best known songs becomes a Cabernet Sauvignon, here are six things that have people buzzing in the world of beer, wine and spirits:
1. Big Beer Numbers Part 1: Craft beer is the rolling like a runaway train. The Brewers Association, the trade group which represents small and independent brewers, is out with its final numbers for 2012 and the growth in the craft beer segment continues unabated. According to the Brewers Association, craft brewers saw a 15 percent rise in volume and a 17 percent increase in dollar growth in 2012. Helping to drive the growth? A proliferation of new players entering the market. 409 new breweries opened in 2012, bringing the total brewery count at the end of 2012 to 2,403. "On average, we are seeing slightly more than one craft brewery per day opening somewhere in the U.S. and we anticipate even more in the coming year" said Paul Gatza, director,Brewers Association.
2. Big Beer Numbers Part 2: The Beer Institute has released its bi-annual economic impact study on the beer business. Titled "Beer Serves America" the report is commissioned by the Beer Institute and National Beer Wholesalers Association. According to the report "Brewers, beer importers,beer distributors, brewer suppliers and retailers directly and indirectly contribute $246.6 billion annually to the U.S. economy." The top 5 states in terms of economic impact on the local economy:
a. California, $34.2B
b. Texas, $21B
c. Colorado $14.7B
d. Florida $14.1B
e. New York $14B
3. Sharing the Sam Can: Boston Beer's Jim Koch made a major philosophical reversal recently when he announced the brewery would begin to can some of the Samuel Adams brands. Koch had been a longtime opponent of beer in can, believing that beer in a bottle was a better consumer experience. But with the popularity of cans on the rise, Koch apparently felt the need to revisit the idea. Two years and one million dollars later, Boston Beer unveiled a patent-pending can design which Koch says delivers a superior drinking experience. Now the brewery has announced it will share the creation with its fellow craft brewers by making the can available to any craft brewer with no royalty or license fee necessary. Koch is well known for helping his fellow entrepreneurs: he has previously shared his supply of hops and has created the "Brewing the American Dream" project to provide advice and assistance to others in the restaurant, beverage and hospitality industries.
4. Over the Top For Oberon: For fans of Kalamazoo based Bell's Brewery, today is a sure sign of Spring. The largest craft brewer in the state of Michigan by volume, Bell's is releasing its best-selling beer today: Oberon Wheat Ale. Despite the March release date, the beer is actually a summer seasonal but its never too early to celebrate and there are over 100 release events listed on the Bell's website makring the release of Oberon. The beer is so popular its inspired its own line of clothing, including Oberon themed sunglasses.
5. New Castle No Bollocks: Beer advertising is often criticized for a lowest common denominator approach: open a bottle of beer and a bikini party breaks out. New Castle Brown Ale is taking a different approach in its latest advertising campaign: "No Bollocks 2013." The ads feature still photos of "ordinary people drinking at real parties having a real good time (or a real bad time in some cases)." The marketing campaign is timed to coincide with the nationwide launch of Newcastle Brown Ale in a 14.9 oz. can.
6. A Peaceful Easy…Drinking... Wine: Jack Tempchin is well known in rock circles for crafting some of music's biggest hits. Now 40 years after writing the Eagles' hit song "Peaceful Easy Feeling", Tempchin is turning the song into wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon. Tempchin told the San Diego Union Tribune he called the Eagles' Glenn Fry to get the bands approval before going ahead on the project.: "I called him last year and asked to make sure it was OK with him for me to do this in the first place. He said: 'Hey, it's your song, man." Peaceful Easy Feeling Cabernet Sauvignon is produced by South Coast Winery and has a suggested retail price of $16.99.
-By CNBC's Tom Rotunno; Follow him on Twitter @TomRotunno
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