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Six Pack: Beer Buzz of the Week

Six items that have consumers buzzing in the world of beer, wine and spirits as we head into the weekend.

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1. Wisconsin Craft Brewer Finds Success with Viral Video: Marketing budgets are tight for smaller craft brewers, but Wisconsin-based Stevens Point Brewery found success with a viral video that had the craft beer world buzzing this week. Titled “The End or The Beginning,” the video shows a couple navigating an apocalyptic scene to reach each other, where they embrace and share a Point Brewery Black Ale. The dark, cinema style video is not something typically seen in the craft beer segment and managed to capture consumers attention with more than 13,000 views this week. For more on the creative team behind the video visit Brewbound.com.

2. New Belgium Brewing Wants Fans to “Enjoy the Ride”: New Belgium Brewing, the makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale, is kicking off the summer season by making its iconic bicycle the center of its advertising campaign. The brewery is asking its fans to tell their stories about their passion for the company’s signature beer and/or bike. The best ones will be used on product packaging, in store marketing displays and on the company’s website and social media platforms. As part of the campaign New Belgium will be giving away a total of 2,500 Fat Tire cruiser bikes.

3. East Coast Brewery Gets a Helping Hand From West Coast Winery: One of the major challenges for craft brewers is distribution. Now a New England brewery is turning to a California winery to help expand its presence on the other side of the country. Portland, Maine based Shipyard Brewing Company has reached a deal with Los Olivos, Calif.-based Fess Parker Winery to market Shipyard beers to restaurants and stores throughout California. Shipyard, which sold about 40,000 cases in California last year, is hoping to increase sales in California by 25 percent.

4. Dr. Ruth Enters Wine Business: Celebrity endorsements are one of the hottest trends in the wine business. Now sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer is entering the field, with Vin d’Amour, a low-alcohol wine (6 percent by volume). With about half the alcohol of typical wine, Dr. Ruth says the idea is to help put couples in a romantic mood, without getting them overly drunk. The wines, a California Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and white Zinfandel, will be priced from $8 to $10 and feature the likeness of Dr. Ruth on the label.

5. Flash Sale Wine Sites Maturing: The recent economic downturn has led many consumers to seek out cheaper wines. For many wineries it’s created a surplus of wine as consumers cut back on their purchases. The combination has given rise to a number of online wine retailers looking to bridge the gap between wine drinker and winery, typically by offering a large discount on a particular wine but only for a short time. As consumer shopping preferences have been influenced by the success of discount sites like Groupon, these so called flash-deal wine sites look like they are here to stay and venture capitalists are stepping up to back these sites in the hopes of capturing a piece of the $32 billion U.S. wine market.

6. Gobi Desert Winery Hopes to Cash in on Chinese Wine Boom: Wine consumption in China has seen a rapid rise in recent years, so much so that China is now the world's fifth-largest consumer of wine. Much of that wine is imported from France and the U.S. But the growth is fueling the desire for more home grown wine and one China-based winery thinks it has just the right spot, the Gobi desert. Chateau Hansen Winery first began making wine in the Gobi desert in the 1980’s and says its revenues nearly doubled from 2010 to 2011. The winery expects sales to double again in 2012, but the going isn’t easy in the Gobi, where the harsh winter cold requires the grapevines to be buried under the sand for protection.

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com. Follow Tom Rotunno on Twitter @tomrotunno.

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