The Six Pack: Beer Buzz of the Week

Introducing Consumer Nation's “Six Pack” — a look at six news items that have consumers buzzing in the world of beer, wine and spirits, as we head into the weekend.

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1.SAM ADAMS EXPANDS THE “BREWING THE AMERICAN DREAM” PROGRAM NATIONALLY: Four years after starting a regional project aimed at helping entrepreneurs in the restaurant, beverage and hospitality business, Boston Beer is taking the idea national. The program, in partnership with microfinance lender Accion, involves helping new businesses find access to capital and business consulting. The program will now have an additional $1 million in lendingavailable.

2. MILLER LITE HOPES PUNCH TOP CAN WILL PUNCH UP SAGGING SALES: It’s been tough going of late for Miller Lite. According to Beer Marketer's Insights, shipment volume for Miller Lite has declined nearly 13 percent over the past three years. So if you can’t change what’s inside the can, how about changing the can itself? That’s the approach Miller Lite is taking, introducing cans with a “second tab for a smoother pour.”The company says it hopes consumers will “have a blast exploring different ways to open it.”

3. WASHINGTON GOVERNOR ASSESSES CALIFORNIA WINE: California may be the king of wineries in the United States, but that didn’t stop Washington Governor Chris Gregoire but delivering this frank assessment of which state makes the best wine: “They make jug wine. We make fine wine.” Washington is number two in terms of most wineries in the U.S.

4. FRONTIER AIRLINES KICKS OFF “CHOOSE YOUR BREW CONTEST”: Craft beer has taken hold coast to coast the last several years, now it’s taking over the skies. Frontier Airlines is asking passengers which of four Colorado craft beers to stock on its planes. It’s taking a poll on its Facebook page and the winning beer will featured onboard starting June 1.

5. ROYAL CARIBBEAN EXPANDS BEER SELECTION: From land, air and now sea, there really is no escaping the craft beer boom. Royal Caribbean says it is expanding its beer selection on its cruise ships to over 40 beer choices, up from 25. Royal Caribbean says the expanded beer menu in the shipboard pubs includes a variety of beer from craft breweries and international beers including Belgian Trappist beer from Belgium's monk-run Chimay brewery.

6. DOGFISH HEAD BREWERY ANNOUNCES RECORD SALES QUARTER: The popular Dogfish Head Brewery disappointed many craft beer fans when it capped its distribution at 27 states in 2011 to focus on growing its existing territory. The strategy is paying off. The brewer announced it shipped 28 percent more beer to its new smaller footprint in the first quarter of 2012 than they did during the same time last year.

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