Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for April 18, 2012

April 18, 2012

•Acclaimed experimental cocktail lounge The Aviary in Chicago is installing a draft beer system this week. Six different craft brews will be available, with the starting line-up including Mikkeller Dream Pils, Jolly Pumpkin Bière de Mars, Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Stillwater Stateside Saison, Evil Twin 404 Ale and Evil Twin Nurse Pepper. Eventually, the draft selection will only feature beers that have been specifically crafted for The Aviary. The bartending team is already in collaboration with Stillwater, Evil Twin, Jolly Pumpkin and Central Waters breweries to concoct some original brews.

•Bolstered by continued strong growth for Dos Equis as well as an improving trend for its core brand, Heineken said its U.S. depletions increased 4.5% in the first quarter of 2012. While Dos Equis, an Impact “Hot Brand,” has been among the fastest-growing beers in the U.S. market, the improving fortunes for the Heineken brand—which steadily declined from 5 million barrels in 2007 to around 4.2 million currently—are a newer development. Across Heineken’s Americas region, total organic beer volume grew 4.5% to 14.6 million hectoliters (12.4 million barrels) in the first quarter. Globally, the brewing giant saw revenues rise 6.8% to €3.8 billion ($5b) over the period.

•Convenience store beer sales in the U.S. were up 1.3% to $16.7 billion last year, according to recent data from the Beer Institute. Convenience stores were responsible for close to 17% of total beer sales in 2011, claiming the largest share of off-premise sales for the year. “Convenience stores offer beer consumers accessible, speedy service,” said Beer Institute president Joe McClain. “(They) are growing in numbers, opening for longer hours and offering a wide variety of brand options.” Boosted by the popularity of imports, crafts and the above-premium segment, total beer sales rose more than 2% in 2011, surpassing $98 billion.

•The U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which becomes effective May 15, will open an emerging market to U.S. spirits exporters. Colombia’s current 15% tariff on U.S. produced brandy, gin, liqueurs and certain other spirits will be eliminated on that date. Looking ahead, the 15% tariff on U.S. whiskey, rum and vodka will be reduced to 14% in 2014 and lowered by 2% annually after that, until it is completely eliminated. Colombia will also recognize Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey as distinctive products of the United States. U.S. exports to Colombia increased by 10% last year to $1.3 million, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

•U.K. beer brand John Smith’s Extra Smooth Ale, owned by Heineken, will be introduced to the U.S. market this month by Stamford, Connecticut-based importer United States Beverage. The 3.8%-abv beer will first be available in select markets in four-packs of 14.9-ounce cans for $7.99, and is set to roll out nationwide by summer 2013. United States Beverage also imports Heineken-owned Murphy’s Stout and Red Ale from Ireland, as well as Tiger Beer from Singapore, the Grupo Damm portfolio of brands from Spain, Tona Cerveza from Nicaragua, Kalik from the Bahamas, Brasseurs de Gayant from France and Spanish Peaks Brewing Co.’s Black Dog Ale portfolio.

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