An Exercise in Contrasts: Beer Edition

While it is certainly possible to get farther apart in the United States than Edmonds, Washington and Jacksonville, Florida, we must admit it to be some distance. And, perhaps, miles apart is metaphorically apt. Or something about a room a thousand years wide. Never mind.

First up, Edmonds, Washington:

American Brewing - Breakaway IPAFor the price of a pint of Breakaway IPA at American Brewing Co. in Edmonds, you could soon buy eight shares in the microbrewer itself.

The little company and some current shareholders are preparing to sell shares in an initial public offering of stock, the first since the mid 1990s by a brewery here.

The 3-year-old company will use proceeds to fund expanded brewing and distribution of its four main beers, including Flying Monkey Dogfight Pale Ale and Caboose Oatmeal Stout.

(Grunbaum)

To the other, while the brewery is said to “have more ambition than your average brewery”, the IPO aims for all of $285,000, cut into fifty-cent shares.

Thus, there are all sorts of caveats, as this seems almost a novelty sale, but still the company finds itself at a crossroads:

With revenues of nearly $1 million, American Brewing reported a $330,000 loss for 2013, according to its prospectus.

Last year it ranked 20th among the state’s roughly 200 craft or microbreweries, producing 3,119 barrels or nearly 100,000 gallons, according to data from the Washington State Liquor Control Board. Top dog Redhook brewed 149,000 barrels, while the 10th largest, Silver City Brewery in Bremerton, produced 7,615 barrels.

Fueled by about $700,000 already raised in a private placement, American Brewing has been adding bigger boilers and fermenting tanks, remodeling its tasting room and readying 56,000 empty 12-ounce cans to be filled with one or two of its beers, the regulatory filing says. The expansion should yield physical capacity to handle 10,000 barrels or more, though “current funding will achieve 5,000-7,000 barrels per year.”

Competition for space in grocery stores is tough, Kaiser says. “The key is you’ve got to be able to continually supply what stores like QFC want.”

While it is a critical time for the brewery, it is hardly the worst of situations. The situation looks much different in Florida.

Barbara Liston explains, for Reuters:

Intuition Ale Works logoBeer fans line up every winter at Intuition Ale Works in north Florida for the annual tapping of Underdark, a world-class dark brew aged for a year in bourbon barrels that sells out quickly even at $15 a bottle.

Ben Davis, who owns the four-year-old local craft brewery in Jacksonville, counts on Underdark’s two-day spike in revenue to grow his small business.

But a bill pending in the Florida Senate that would cut into Underdark’s profit has craft beer-makers crying foul.

The law would force craft brewers to sell their bottled and canned beer directly to a distributor. If they want to sell it in their own tap rooms, they would then have to buy it back at what is typically a 30-40 percent mark-up without the bottles or cans ever leaving the brewery, according to Joshua Aubuchon, a lawyer and lobbyist for the Florida Brewers Guild.

The rule would not apply to draft beer.

“That to me looks like racketeering,” Aubuchon told Reuters.

Florida?  But that's America's wangPerhaps they do prefer, “The Sunshine State”, but Homer had a point.

Suffice to say, any politician who would prefer you drink cheap swill instead of good beer ought to be disqualified from holding office.

____________________

Grunbaum, Rami. “IPA meets IPO: Small brewery selling shares”. The Seattle Times. April 5, 2014.

Liston, Barbara. “Craft beer distribution battle brews in Florida legislature”. Reuters. April 3, 2014.

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