Six things that have consumers buzzing in the world of beer, wine and spirits this week:
1. Canada's New Beer Barons: As the craft beer boom continues unabated here in United States and Canada, there are many fledgling breweries looking to raise capital. But when Calgary-based Village Brewing was looking to raise $2 million dollars in funding, it decided it wanted more than just financial backing, it wanted investors who would help preach the Village Brewing gospel. (For More: No Bubble for Craft Beer: Industry Pioneer )
So the founders set out to find what they called "Beer Barons, " described by CanadianBusiness.com as "people known for engagement in the arts, music, entertainment and charitable scenes in Calgary." The co-founders say they "spurned offers from banks, financiers and oilmen solely interested in the venture's financial prospects." Ultimately, they sold 40 percent of the company's equity to 50 investors paying $40, 000 each. Among the perks? Each one receives 48 free beers a month, half of which they are expected to share with friends and colleagues.
2. Equipment Crunch: The Brewers Association estimates there are now more than 2, 100 breweries in operation in the U.S. with an estimated 1, 200 in the planning stages. According to Denver-based magazine 5280, the rapid growth is making it difficult to obtain brewing equipment. Bill Eye of Prost Brewing tells the magazine the equipment crunch is causing a delay for many start-up breweries who otherwise would be ready to go if not for the lack of brewing equipment.
3. Guinness Airlines: Guinness is getting into the airline business, at least for the month of October. The Dublin-based brewery, which is owned by Diageo , will be offering flights between the U.K. and Dublin in private luxury jets. Guinness drinkers in pubs across the U.K. will have a chance to win a spot on one of the Guinness flights, which will run on Friday and Saturday evenings, departing at 6 pm and 8 pm and getting consumers back home "before dawn." Guinness said the flights will be equipped with flight attendants specially trained to "pour a pint even at flying altitude."
5. Really, Really Cold Beer: The South Pole is a tough environment to work. Making matters worse, employees from the U.K.'s National Oceanography Center found they could not enjoy a beer at the end of the day. Not that the beer wasn't cold. Just the opposite. The beer would freeze, which they say kills the taste after it is thawed out. Now a U.K.-based brewery, Platform Tavern, has created a special ale, Pole-Axed, which it said can withstand the harsh conditions of the South Pole. The beer is 7-percent alcohol which Platform said will prevent it from freezing in temperatures up to minus 90 degrees. Twenty pints of the beer have been bottled and will be shipped air freight at a cost of $32 each.
6. The Beer Biz Cracks Fortune's "40 Under 40 List": Fortune is out with its annual "40 Under 40" list, the annual look at young business stars. Sure the usual tech names are there like Mark Zuckerberg and the Google guys, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, but you can now add a beer man to the list. According to Heineken USA, its president Dolf van den Brink is the first person from the beer industry to crack the "40 Under 40" list. Brink has been president of Heineken since 2009. According to the latest Nielsen numbers, the Heineken USA portfolio is up 4.1 percent year to date.
7. Flavors Fueling Vodka Sales : Flavored vodkas are one of the fastest growing segments in the spirits industry and a new study details just how quickly flavored drinks have become a force in the marketplace. According to the study, done by Technomic , nearly three-quarters of the vodkas introduced in 2011 were flavored offerings and flavored vodka sales grew more than 23 percent in 2011. Technomic data said flavored vodkas now account for more a quarter of all vodka sales.
In a sign that no flavor is off limits, 360 Vodka has announced it is celebrating "National Popcorn Poppin' Month" by rolling out a new flavor: 360 Buttered Popcorn. As the name implies, 360 Buttered Popcorn is designed to "capture that buttery goodness that has led Americans to eat 16 billion quarts of popcorn each year!" (For More: 10 Unusual Vodka Flavors )
-By Tom Rotunno, CNBC Senior Editor
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Questions? Comments? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Tom Rotunno on Twitter @tomrotunno.