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On 12 April the Governor signed into law a bill (Senate Bill 156) that will allow micro-distillery pubs in the state of Colorado. Distillery pubs will be able to produce spirits and sell them at the licensed facility and one other location. Distilling your own booze seems to be the latest fad among US microbrewers if discussions at the IBS National Craft Brewers‘ Conference in Portland (see report) are anything to go by.

First-quarter net earnings at Anheuser-Busch rose 12.6 %, the company’s tenth consecutive quarter of double-digit earnings per share growth. For the quarter ending March 31, 2001, Anheuser-Busch reported net income of US$394.4m, or 43 cents per diluted share. In the same period a year ago, Anheuser-Busch reported net income of US$350.3m, or 38 cents a share. Sales grew to almost US$3.5 bn in the first quarter, up from US$3.3 bn a year ago. This surprised some analysts as the weather in March had been cool, holding down sales in many US states. At the annual meeting in Orlando, shareholders defeated proposals to phase out the use of genetically engineered crops.

It has not been a good first quarter for Miller Brewing Co. While Anheuser-Busch and Coors reported first quarter profits to be up, Miller announced an 18.4% drop to US$124m in operating profits compared to a year ago. Beer production fell 5.3% to 9.4m barrels. This comes after a so-so year 2000, during which Miller’s sales volume declined 2.6% to 40.6m barrels, partly due to price increases for its biggest selling brands Miller Lite, Miller Genuine Draft and High Life. However, it was these price increases which helped to raise revenue 2.4% to US$4.25 bn. Operating income was also up 5.4% to US$543m. Despite the price increase, sales of Miller Lite, Millers No 1 brand, remained flat in 2000, while sales of Miller Genuine Draft (MGD), its No. 2 brand were down 4.8%. Sales of No.8%..

In April, Anheuser-Busch Cos. finally reached an agreement with the union representing more than 7,000 employees at its 12 US breweries. The agreement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters comes 2 - 1/2 years after contract talks reached an impasse and Anheuser-Busch unilaterally implemented terms. Under the new contract, the aver- age Anheuser-Busch employee would make more than $66,000 annually. Total compensation would average nearly $50 per hour. Employees had been averaging about $65,000 a year under the imposed terms, with pay and benefits at about $47 to $48 per hour, a spokesman for the company said. The agreement runs through February 2004.

Charles Oliver has joined Labatt Brewing Co as Vice-President of marketing. Previously he was with Buena Vista Home Entertainment Canada, a division of the Walt Disney Company.

Sleeman Breweries have signed a five year contract with South African Breweries to sell, market and distribute the Pilsener Urquell brand. Sleeman Breweries is Canada’s third largest and fastest growing brewery with significant market presence in all of Canada’s major beer markets according to company statements.

Molson has announced that it plans to close its Regina brewery by March 2002, which will help the brewer to cut costs by a total of $150m a year. In a statement Molson said that it hopes to provide jobs for at least half of the 85 employees currently working at the plant. Small wonder that the unions were not pleased as the announcement coincided with Molson releasing the results for its fiscal 2001 ending 31 March. The company reported profit of $108.4m or $1.82 a share, up 32% from the previous fiscal year. Revenue rose to $2.48 bn from $2.37 bn.

Cervejaria Cintra which currently holds 1.5% of the Brazilian beer market has issued an ambitious five year plan to boost sales both domestically and internationally. There are four breweries in the pipeline with the first one opening near Portugal’s capital Lisbon this summer. It cost US$58m to build and will be able to produce 1.5m hl of beer, 30m litres of soft drinks and 30m litres of mineral water per year. Annual revenue is expected to be US$23m. The other three plants will open in Brazil. Total investment in all four ventures will be in excess of R$400m (US$170m).

The Group Cervecería Polar C. A. in Venezuela has installed three high- performance crate washing systems of the German specialist manufacturer Ludwig Bohrer Maschinenbau GmbH at the breweries in Maracaibo in single lane and in San Joaquin in double lane design.

Genesee Corp., the US’s number five brewer, announced that the management buy-out of its Genesee Brewing Co., led by Chief Executive Samuel Hubbard Jr., would not be completed until December as the buyers needed more time to complete financing. The shares of Genesee subsequently fell US$ 2.25 to US$ 34 in over-the-counter trading. Shares so far have declined 81 % this year.

In a recent feature in the Australian edition of Reader’s Digest, Jim Koch, self-styled "Creator of the first craft-brewed American beer", Samuel Adams, gave the following invaluable advice to young entrepreneurs: "Life is very long, so don’t rush to make decisions. Life does not let you plan." Is that what he learned while working for the Boston Consulting Group?