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Six Pack: Beer Buzz of the Week

Six things that have consumers buzzing in the world of beer, wine and spirits this week:

Glass of shandy with slice of lemon
Food Collection | Getty Images
Glass of shandy with slice of lemon

1. Guinness Gets Generous With New Ale: Seasonals and variety mixed packs are a big factor in the success of craft beer. Now Diageo's Guinness brand is taking a page from the craft playbook and producing a holiday beer. Guinness is introducing Guinness Generous Ale, a 5.6 percent alcohol by volume holiday ale that offers the distinct roast of malt Guinness is known for in the style of a more traditional English Ale. The beer will be available in a Guinness Winter Selection Variety Pack, which will hit shelves nationwide around Nov. 1. The Guinness Winter Selection Variety pack will feature the new Guinness Generous Ale, along with Guinness Black Lager, Guinness Draught and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout.

2. No Second City When It Comes to Beer: It's been a good year for beer in the Windy City. First California-based Lagunitas Brewing aid it would build a brewing facility in Chicago as part of an expansion plan and an effort to reduce shipping costs. Then Oskar Blues nked a distribution deal to bring its famous craft beer in a can to the Chicago market, and now Deschutes Brewery, the nation's number No. 5 craft brewery by 2011 volume, has announced it will start distributing its beer in Chicago. Deschutes said it expects its beer, which includes Black Butte Porter, the No. 1 selling porter in the nation, to hit the Chicago-area in January 2013.

3. Heineken. Heineken USA: Heineken caused a stir in the beverage world when it announced James Bond would be reaching for a Heineken in Skyfall, the latest installment of the Bond franchise. Now Heineken is giving consumers the chance to reach for a Bond-themed beer, releasing bottles adorned with the secret agent's image. But Bond fans here in the U.S. may be shaken to learn that, for now, the bottles are available only in Europe.

According to the latest Nielsen numbers, Heineken USA sales grew 8.3 percent, its second best month in five years. The growth was driven by Heineken Lager (up 3 percent), the Newcastle Franchise (up 8.1 percent) and the Dos Equis franchise (up 27.4 percent).

4. End of the World for Shock Top: Anheuser-Busch InBev released its latest Shock Top release at the Great American Beer Festival. Shock Top "End of the World Wheat" is a reference to the Mayan prediction the world will end on Dec. 21. The beer is a bit of a departure for the Shock Top brand as it is brewed with chocolate malt, chili and spices. To mark the occasion Shock Top enlisted the help of artist Stan Herd to create a Shock Top End of the World Wheat crop circle. You can check out the circle and a time lapse of its construction here.

5. Deadheads and Dogfish Fans Grateful For Chance to Create A Beer
: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery nd the Grateful Dead are both known for taking a unique approach to life. Now the two are joining together to create "American Beauty," a "strong pale ale with all-American hops and barley." The name is a nod to the Grateful Dead album of the same name. Dogfish is asking Grateful Dead fans to suggest a special ingredient to include in the beer — something with a Dead-inspired story behind it. No word on if the special brew will be packaged in a Box of Rain.

6. Plenty to Whine About in Europe: Vintners in Europe said they are bracing for the worst harvest in half a century. Drought, hail and cold weather have hit the region hard, with France and Italy being especially impacted by bad weather. According to AP, the European wine harvest typically accounts for over 60 percent of the world's wine production.

Don't Forget: onsumer Nation is looking for the most-loved beer label of 2012. Submit your favorites to BoozeNews@nbcuni.com.

-By Tom Rotunno, CNBC Senior Editor; Follow him on Twitter @tomrotunno.

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com.

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