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

News Briefs for June 15, 2012

June 15, 2012

Brown-Forman will open a new Jack Daniel’s cooperage facility in Decatur, Alabama, which will double barrel-making capacity for the brand. The company is investing about $55 million in the new cooperage, which should be operational by May 2014. The annual capacity of the existing facility in Louisville, Kentucky is around 500,000 barrels, and the new cooperage will have about the same scale. Jack Daniel’s saw volume increase 2% last year to 4.86 million nine-liter cases in the U.S., according to Impact Databank. Globally, Jack Daniel’s volume was up 6.4% to 10.6 million cases in 2011.

SABMiller has partnered with Belgium’s Van Steenberge brewery to bring its first Belgian beer into the U.S. market. SABMiller has been granted global distribution rights to Van Steenberge’s flagship Augustijn beer under a new brand name, St. Stefanus. St. Stefanus is brewed using a high-fermentation process in which the beer ages in cellars for at least three months. Available only in bottle format, St. Stefanus will offer several variants, including a lower-alcohol Blonde, matured for the minimum time, and a Grand Cru that’s matured for nine months. SABMiller plans to distribute the brand in select U.S. markets and retail outlets that focus on specialty and craft beers.

•In yet another emerging market investment, Diageo has increased its stake in Vietnam spirits producer Halico by 10.6%, paying £14 million ($22m). The deal, completed via a public offering, raises Diageo’s Halico interest to 45.5%. Diageo first invested in Halico in January 2011 and has upped its stake through a series of transactions since then. Halico is Vietnam’s top branded spirits producer, with brands including Vodka Hanoi. Diageo says it plans to “assist Halico in enhancing its capabilities across a range of functions, including innovation, branding, supply and distribution” as part of a long-term investment in the group. But Diageo said it will continue to separately develop its international premium spirits portfolio in Vietnam through its existing Diageo Vietnam unit.

•Restaurants Unlimited is expanding its single-unit Henry’s 12th Street Tavern gastropub brand with two outposts slated to open this fall. The original Henry’s opened in Portland, Oregon, eight years ago. The first new unit will debut in Seattle in September, where it will be called Henry’s First Avenue Tavern, while the second will open in Plano, Texas, in October and be called Henry’s Tavern. Restaurants Unlimited plans to open six additional Henry’s outposts over the next two years. Including the new Henry’s units, Restaurants Unlimited owns and operates 21 restaurant concepts—both multi-unit brands and one-offs—for a total of 48 restaurants across 11 states. Portland Seafood Company is the group’s latest concept, which debuted in Portland last year. Restaurants Unlimited also has plans to convert six Newport Seafood Grill locations into Portland Seafood Company units, expand its casual-dining concept Palomino into Fort Worth, Texas, and introduce the Pizzeria Fondi brand to Indianapolis.

•Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z is expanding his sports bar and restaurant concept, the 40/40 Club, to Brooklyn, New York, this fall. The new 9,000-square-foot 40/40 Club is slated to open in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, a new $1 billion entertainment venue and home to the Brooklyn Nets, on September 28, the arena’s opening night. The restaurant will have a custom-made illuminated bar, 36 TVs and will offer views of the arena’s basketball court. This will be the third location of the 40/40 Club, which debuted in Manhattan in 2003 and opened a second unit in Atlantic City in 2005.


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