Mid Atlantic Brewing News December 2012/January 2013 : Page 1

By Greg Kitsock ILLUSTRATION BY: HANS GRANHEIM By the Brews Brothers (Steve Frank & Arnold Meltzer) aybe it didn’t make national headlines like InBev’s 2008 takeover of Anheuser-Busch, but C&C Group’s October buyout of Vermont Hard Cider Co., the nation’s largest cidermaker, has similarly created a leviathan capable of dominating its slice of the U.S. beverage industry. The Dublin-based company (whose portfolio includes Bulmers, Hornsby’s, Gaymers, Blackthorn and their flagship Magners ) paid $307 million for the maker of the Woodchuck line. That’s more than a hundred times what Vermont ILLUSTRATION BY: HANS GRANHEIM Hard Cider‘s CEO/president Brett Williams paid for the business in 2003 when he and his fellow investors bought it from Scottish & Newcastle. The new entity will control about 70% of domestic cider sales, much more than the 50% of beer sales that Anheuser-Busch accounted for at its peak. The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice have final say over the sale, but both are expected to grant approval by February 2013. It’s quite a windfall for a company that founder Joseph Cerniglia began in his two-car garage in Proctorsville, Vt. in 1991. But cider is booming. The Woodchuck family accounts for 60% of the U.S. cider market and grew by 29% and 25% the last two years, about skilled chef can match a beer with food to create a taste experience that's more than the sum of the parts. But can you do the same with beer and music? Or are our senses of taste and hearing too far apart for such a pairing to really mesh? Brian Strumke doesn't think so. By the time you read this, the creative mastermind between Baltimore-based Stillwater Artisanal Ales should have released "volume one" in his Stillwater Sensory Series. Strumke has taken the song "In the End Is the Beginning" from the indie rock band Lower Dens' album Nootropics and has attempted to "interpret" it into a beer. His plan is print the labels with a QC code that, when scanned with a smart phone, will enable the drinker to link with a live video of the Lower Dens performing their song. Strumke also wants to distribute coasters See Big Apple le p. p.6 . 6 See Artists p.9 Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal Ales at a Stillwater beer dinner at Baltimore’s Alewife. PHOTO BY ALEXANDER D. MITCHELL IV D.C. ..................33 New Jersey .....34 Delaware ........36 Inside Book Review.................................. 5 Homebrew ...................................10 Fairy Hopmother ........................12 Maps ...................................... 18-21 Hurricane Sandy Update ............35 Event Calendar ............................39 State by State News Virginia ...........14 C. Penn ............22 Philadelphia ...24 E. Penn ............26 Maryland ........27 Baltimore ........30 W. Virginia ......32

Big Apple: C&C Buyout creates nation

Steve Frank & Arnold Meltzer

Maybe it didn’t make national headlines like InBev’s 2008 takeover of Anheuser-Busch, but C&C Group’s October buyout of Vermont Hard Cider Co., the nation’s largest cidermaker, has similarly created a leviathan capable of dominating its slice of the U.S. beverage industry.

The Dublin-based company (whose portfolio includes Bulmers, Hornsby’s, Gaymers, Blackthorn and their flagship Magners) paid $307 million for the maker of the Woodchuck line. That’s more than a hundred times what Vermont Hard Cider‘s CEO/president Brett Williams paid for the business in 2003 when he and his fellow investors bought it from Scottish & Newcastle.

The new entity will control about 70% of domestic cider sales, much more than the 50% of beer sales that Anheuser-Busch accounted for at its peak. The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice have final say over the sale, but both are expected to grant approval by February 2013.

It’s quite a windfall for a company that founder Joseph Cerniglia began in his two-car garage in Proctorsville, Vt. In 1991. But cider is booming.

The Woodchuck family accounts for 60% of the U.S. cider market and grew by 29% and 25% the last two years, about the same rate as the U.S. cider industry as a whole. So far this year, industry growth is a torrid 60%.

But cider is still relatively small. Craft Business Daily reports that Vermont Hard Cider shipped 165,000 bbl of Woodchuck in 2011. If this volume were beer, it would be tied for ninth largest craft brewery in the country.

Williams wasn’t trying to sell the company, but he found the unsolicited offer too generous to resist. "The C&C Group has been in business for 85 years and some of the brands they own in England are older than this country,” he commented. He also noted, "With all the competition coming, Woodchuck is going to need deeper investment and will benefit from deeper pockets."

Vermont Hard Cider, which is currently brewing and bottling on a 24-hour schedule, plans to build a 100,000 sq-ft cidery in spring 2013 to supplement its current 64,000 sq-ft facility. C&C wants to make the new facility even larger, notes Willaims, and will retain all of the current staff while hiring new employees. "Woodchuck was born in Vermont and needs to stay here, and they know that." The company will not change the recipe for Woodchuck and will continue to use mainly Vermont apples.

Vermont Hard Cider makes four core styles Amber, Granny Smith, 802 Dark & Dry and Crisp. They also produce seasonal ciders and have released ginger- and pumpkin-flavored ciders, as well as a wood-aged cider flavored with vanilla for their holiday seasonal.

Williams will remain as president and CEO of Vermont Hard Cider, which will operate on a standalone basis as a wholly owned subsidiary of C&C Group.

“A Very Interesting Time”

Reaction to the sale was mixed. “We’re always a little sad when fellow small independent companies like Woodchuck get bought up by large multi-national corporations,” commented Boston Beer Co. Chairman Jim Koch, who markets his own Angry Orchard line of ciders. “But we certainly welcome C&C to the U.S. They have a great cider making tradition of their own."

Chuck Shelton of Virginia’s Albemarle CiderWorks had some concerns about the purchase. “By and large, the products of macro producers and ours are not the same. Big cider companies could, however, drive legislation that might not be favorable to small, independent craft cidermakers. Also, due to their economic might, they might try to cash in on the growing popularity of craft ciders by producing products more similar to ours at lower pricing.” Like a “Woodchuck Farmhouse,” for instance.

Rob Miller, co-owner of Distillery Lane Ciderworks in Jefferson, Md., doesn’t foresee a rash of buyouts. "I think it would be hard for most of the small craft guys like myself to sell out because we love what we do."

Jeffrey House, president of the California Hard Cider Co. In Sebatopol, Calif. (maker of Ace Ciders), speculated that Magners cider will be made in the new Vermont cidery. He felt it would be “a very interesting time” for an independent business like his own now that "all the big brewers are now in the cider game.”

Crispin Cider was acquired by MillerCoors earlier this year, Heineken has acquired the U. S. distribution rights to Strongbow, and Anheuser-Busch has started making Michelob Ultra Light Cider.

Read the full article at http://mabnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Big+Apple%3A+C%26amp%3BC+Buyout+creates+nation/1269826/139730/article.html.

Brewers & Other Artists

Greg Kitsock

Opus #1 in Malt and Hops

A skilled chef can match a beer with food to create a taste experience that's more than the sum of the parts.

But can you do the same with beer and music? Or are our senses of taste and hearing too far apart for such a pairing to really mesh?

Brian Strumke doesn't think so. By the time you read this, the creative mastermind between Baltimore-based Stillwater Artisanal Ales should have released "volume one" in his Stillwater Sensory Series. Strumke has taken the song "In the End Is the Beginning" from the indie rock band Lower Dens' album Nootropics and has attempted to "interpret" it into a beer.

His plan is print the labels with a QC code that, when scanned with a smart phone, will enable the drinker to link with a live video of the Lower Dens performing their song. Strumke also wants to distribute coasters With the QR code so fans can hook up while enjoying the beer on tap at their local pub.

"In the End Is the Beginning" is 12 minutes long, enough time to drain a glass or at least take a few hearty swallows. Strumke, who has dabbled in electronic music, describes it as a "droning and minimal" composition, a "lengthy, contemplative end-of-the-world song where the narrator readies himself/herself for whatever's next."

But how do you translate a progression of notes into a beverage?

Wine critics have often borrowed music terminology to describe their favorite vintages. New York Times wine (and beer) writer Eric Asimov, in his recently published book How to Love Wine, writes that his peers might liken "a subtly expressive bottle to a string quartet or a bolder, louder bottle to a brass band."

Strumke draws a similar analogy when he comments, "You can look at the malt as the low end, the bass, and the hop aroma as the high end, the treble."

“Intricate Complexity”

One's first impulse might be to turn a deep, brooding work of music into a dark beer like a porter or stout. Strumke finds that a bit too obvious. Rather, he envisions the Lower Dens' song as "white but not bright," like a cloud-enshrouded sky. So he hit on the idea of making his beer - it's dubbed Stillwater Sensory Series, Volume 1, Lower Dens - "light in color but with a dark flavor."

He devised a recipe that is "spelt driven" - a pale, cloudy wheat ale with a touch of oak-smoked wheat. Hibiscus flowers and East Kent Goldings hops add an earthiness, while Pacific Gem hops from New Zealand contribute a blackberry-like flavor.

Like the Lower Dens composition, Strumke believes his beer is simple on the surface, but with an "intricate complexity" if you care to delve more deeply.

Strumke stresses that his project is not an attempt at cross-marketing, like Michael Jackson (the singer, not the beer writer) hawking Pepsi or 007 forsaking his vodka martini for a Heineken in the latest James Bond movie.

Although he met the Lower Dens on a European trip this year and says the band members are fans of his beer, "I'm not asking them to endorse it. This is about working together, creating art."

Even before the first entry in his Stillwater Sensory Series hit the street in 375-ml bottles and 20-liter kegs, Strumke was talking with other bands. "I'd like to do one of these at least once a quarter," he remarked.

Read the full article at http://mabnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Brewers+%26amp%3B+Other+Artists/1269828/139730/article.html.

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