Illinoisans are consuming less beer 

Thursday, July 05, 2012 5:34:36 PM

Source: Sun Times


July 2, 2012

At a time when you might think they would need something in which to drown their sorrows, Illinoisans are drinking less beer.

According to the Washington-based Beer Institute, brew consumption annually in the state dropped by three six-packs per person between 2007 and 2011. But don't worry, Illinoisans can still hold their heads up high - only five other states drink more beer per capita than this one.

Joel Meister, 43, a Wicker Park bartender, has a hard time believing the stats, which show that each person in the state last year drank, on average, 53 six packs.

"You're kidding?" Meister said, enjoying an evening off and a cold one at Michael and Louise's Hop Leaf bar in Andersonville. "I know how much people drink on average. ... If there's a shortage or decline in people drinking beer in the last five years, I would have bet my right hand that wasn't the case."

So what's behind the numbers? Several calls to the Beer Institute were not returned Monday.

But some drinkers at the Hop Leaf guessed the dip may be related to the economic downturn. After all, beer may help ease the pain of the recession but it is not a necessity, they reasoned.

Still, Ryan Lopez, 36, of Andersonville, who now works at the Field Museum, recalled working at a Lincoln Square restaurant a few years back.

"I never sold more liquor than on Sept. 11," Lopez said.


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Supreme Court health care ruling meets criticism from restaurant industry 

Friday, June 29, 2012 1:58:21 PM

Industry leaders are disappointed by the ruling to uphold the controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Source: NRN

By Paul Frumkin

June 28, 2012

Members of the foodservice industry expressed deep disappointment and concern after the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision on Thursday to uphold President Barack Obama's highly controversial health care law.

In a narrow 5-4 ruling, Supreme Court judges upheld the constitutionality of the central element of the president's sweeping Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the individual mandate, which requires that all Americans purchase health insurance.

The court's historic decision is expected to alter the way Americans receive and pay for their medical care.

Industry associations and many restaurant operators have been arguing for the past several years that added costs associated with the law could cut into earnings, force operators to raise prices, eliminate jobs and put the brakes on growth in this already economically challenged environment.

The court's decision was frustrating for many in the industry.

"Today's ruling by the Supreme Court is troubling for restaurant operators and business owners across the country," said Dawn Sweeney, president and chief executive of the National Restaurant Association, in a statement. "We encourage Congress to continue efforts to repeal the law, since the Court's decision leaves the employer requirements in place, provisions which impact restaurant operators' ability to grow and create jobs."

Steve Caldeira, president and chief executive of the International Franchise Association, said the IFA was "deeply disappointed by the high court ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act, which places undue burdens on the franchise small business community. While it may have been ruled constitutional, the law is unworkable, unaffordable and wrong for our country's small business owners."

The Court had listened to three days of arguments in March on the law. The measure was passed by congressional Democrats despite Republican opposition in 2010.

Operators say many elements of the current law have yet to be hammered out and remain unclear to them. "Just because something is found to be legal, that doesn't necessarily mean that something should be done," said Jamie Richardson, vice president of government and shareholder relations for White Castle.

"The challenge is going to be understanding how we do it as it has been legislated," he continued. "The biggest thing still is the uncertainty about how the rules are going to be written. It needs to be made actionable in the real world in a way that doesn't cripple businesses."

According to the law, operators with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees are required to offer "affordable" health insurance of minimum value to full-time workers and dependents or pay a penalty. The minimum penalty is $2,000 per employee.

Employers must begin offering health care insurance to their full-time employees in 2014.

"The [Affordable Care Act] imposes heavy mandates on employers using punitive penalties for noncompliance," said Rob Green, executive director of the National Council of Chain Restaurants. "The law will particularly damage the chain restaurant industry, which operates on thin margins and cannot support costly government-imposed mandates. Many chains have indicated they will have no choice but to cut back on workers' hours or close restaurants in order to avoid penalties."

Prior to the court's ruling today, Steve Carley, chief executive of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, had voiced his unease about the law in an interview with Nation's Restaurant News. "Personally, I haven't seen a competitor yet who has put in the long-term forecast for the financial implications of Obamacare," Carley said. "They are significant and they are dramatic. So much so, that no one has put in the long-term forecast yet, including us."

Carley said he favored "a more bipartisan conversation so we can get more common-sense solutions that we can all address."

Many within the industry warn that the enactment of health care reform as it stands would severely hamper the industry's fragile growth. "When you couple these new expenses with the lack of growth capital and uncertainty about taxes, this is certainly not a recipe for growth," Caldeira said.

In the meantime, many are calling for Congress to revisit the law. "This unworkable law cannot stand as is," the NRA's Sweeney said. "We need reform that addresses the increasing costs our members are faced with each year. .We ask members of Congress to take action that helps the restaurant industry continue to help create jobs and grow the national economy."

Veteran foodservice executive and current candidate for the sixth congressional district in Florida Craig Miller said the decision amounts to "the biggest tax increase in American history," and said if elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, he would "sponsor legislation on my first day of Congress to overturn this erosion of our Constitutional rights."

The House of Representatives is expected to take up a bill calling for the full repeal of the law the week of July 9.



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Ralph Aguera Announcement 

Friday, June 29, 2012 1:57:16 PM

Source: Brown-Forman

Jun 28th

After 52 distinguished years within the industry, 14 of those at Brown-Forman, Ralph Aguera has decided to retire, effective July 31st, 2012.

Ralph began his career in 1960 at Tampa Wholesale Liquor.

In 1968 he was hired by Heublein as the North Florida Representative. He worked for Heublein for the next 30 years in a variety of roles, including, but not limited to: Louisiana State Manager, National Accounts Southern Regional Manager, National Manager, Hotel & Restaurant Chains, Southern Regional Manager, Divisional VP in the New England Division and Trade Relations Manager.

In late 1998 Ralph joined Brown-Forman to help our company foster, build and strengthen trade relations with key distributors, customers and industry organizations. While with Brown-Forman, Ralph has been active on the following boards and industry groups.

· Sky Ranch Foundation, where he current serves as President, and will remain President after his retirement from B-F.

· American Cancer Society

· United Jewish Appeal

· American Beverage Licensees, where he was honored as their "Person of the Year/Top Shelf Award Winner" in 2009.

· Wine & Spirits Guild

· American Beverage Institute

· Gilda's Club

· Share our Strength

Ralph is the recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Community Service, the National Hispanic Corporate Achiever of the Year, National Liquor Store Association Man of The Year, Sky Ranch Hall of Fame and American Cancer Society Hope Award.

Ralph Aguera has few, if any, peers in our industry. He is truly revered in this business and will be missed by his friends and colleagues at Brown-Forman. We wish him and his beautiful wife Judy, nothing but the best as they move into the next phase of their lives.



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AB InBev buys out Corona maker Modelo for $20 billion 

Friday, June 29, 2012 1:56:13 PM

Source: Reuters

June 29, 2012

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's biggest brewer, said it would swallow the half of Grupo Modelo it does not already own for $20.1 billion in the latest of a string of deals by big brewers looking for growth in emerging markets.

The owner of Budweiser and Stella Artois beers said on Friday it had reached agreement with Modelo's controlling families giving it a leading position in a growing domestic beer market and the best-selling Mexican beer Corona Extra.

Modelo founded in 1925, is Mexico's biggest brewer with a 50 percent plus market share where it operates in a virtual duopoly with Heineken's FEMSA Cerveza, while Corona is the biggest imported beer in the lucrative United States market.

AB InBev is attracted to Modelo by a Mexican beer market growing at around three percent a year and cost savings that the company said would be at least $600 million per year.

AB InBev said it had added $14 billion of new bank loans to fund the all-cash transaction.

Two Modelo board members had committed to invest $1.5 billion of their proceeds in AB InBev shares to be delivered within five years. The two would also join AB InBev's board.

In a related but separate transaction, Modelo would sell its 50 percent stake in joint venture Crown Imports to partner Constellation Brands Inc for $1.85 billion. Crown Imports distributes Modelo beers in the U.S. in a deal that runs to the end of 2016.

If AB InBev had wanted to buy out Constellation and distribute the beer itself it would have pushed its market share in the United States to above 50 percent, leading to anti-trust concerns.



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Retailers Disappointed as Supreme Court Upholds Individual Health Care Insurance Mandate 

Thursday, June 28, 2012 11:33:00 AM

June 28, 2012
WASHINGTON -- In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the individual insurance mandate of President Obama's health care law.

 The ruling that the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act is constitutional is damaging to the nation's 148,000-plus convenience and fuel retailers, said NACS chairman Tom Robinson, president of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Robinson Oil Corp.

"The Court's decision to keep in place employer mandates will place significant burdens on nearly 40% of our industry and put these businesses at a substantial competitive disadvantage," Robinson said in a statement.

Since the legislation was signed into law by President Obama in 2010, the association had advocated repeal of the employer mandate provisions and reform of other provisions.

Separately, Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation (NRF), said in a statement, "As the voice of retailers of all types and sizes, we're disappointed by today's ruling. The Court missed an opportunity to redress the many shortcomings of the law. As it stands, the law wrongly focuses more on penalizing employers and the private sector than reducing health costs. For these reasons, NRF has been a consistent skeptic of the Affordable Care Act."

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21 Beverage Licensees Honored at ABL National Convention 

Monday, June 25, 2012 12:10:02 PM

Source: ABL

June 22, 2012

On June 12, twenty-one retail beverage licensees were recognized as Brown-Forman Retailers of the Year at the American Beverage Licensees' 10th Annual Convention in Las Vegas.

Presented by Ralph Aguera, Vice President, Trade Relations for Brown-Forman, the awards symbolize these business owners' contributions to the beverage alcohol industry. This is the tenth consecutive year that Brown-Forman, a leading producer of distilled spirits, has sponsored the awards, and Mr. Aguera thanked each of the recipients for their hard work and efforts to positively define the industry. The 2012 winners include:

Rush Discount Liquor | Anchorage, AK

Houndstooth Sports Bar | Tuscaloosa, AL

Grapevine Wines and Spirits | Little Rock, AR

Fisher's Liquor Barn | Grand Junction, CO

Habersham Beverage Warehouse | Savannah, GA

Kenwood Liquors | Homer Glen, IL

Illinois Valley Super Bowl | Peru, IL

Hildreth's Liquor Mart | Seymour, IN

Charlie's Tuna Tap | East Chicago, IN

Party Mart | Louisville, KY

Snyder's Willow Grove | Linthicum, MD

Arundel Wine & Spirits | Hanover, MD

Sav-Mor Spirits | Somerville, MA

Harry T's Wholesale Wine & Liquor | Canton, MS

Stockman Bar | Harlowton, MT

Tops Liquor | Brooklyn, NY

Numerous Former Licensees | New York State

Allen's Liquors & Wines | Watertown, NY

BB Beverages | Myrtle Beach, SC

WB Liquors | San Antonio, TX

The Alley | Newport News, VA

Terry's Bar | Oshkosh, WI

"It's always inspiring to hear about the great accomplishments our members are making in their home towns, and were fortunate that Brown-Forman continues to support the retail tier by recognizing great retailers throughout the country," said John D. Bodnovich, ABL's Executive Director. "These small business owners represent the best of the individuals in our industry."


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Two glasses of wine a day improves quality of life for middle-aged 

Monday, June 25, 2012 12:08:24 PM

A couple of glasses of wine each day improves your quality of life, researchers say.

Source: Daily Telegraph

24 Jun 2012

A study finds that those who drink in moderation - no more than 14 drinks a week and no more than three a day for women and four a day for men - have better overall scores than those who abstain completely.

The quality of life was measured using the Health Utilities index, which looks at factors including dexterity, emotion, cognition and mobility.

Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine studied 5,404 Canadians at age 50, and continued to observe them over a follow up period.

Most showed a stable alcohol consumption pattern and 'persistant moderate drinkers' were identified.

They found that these regular moderate drinkers scored highest in each of the health indices.

However, subsequent changes in quality of life past 50 were similar in all groups, except for those who cut down on drinking from moderate levels - and these showed signs of decline.

The authors write: "Overall, this study shows a positive relation between regular moderate alcohol intake and quality of life in middle-aged adults.

"The effects on the subsequent quality of life as one ages of continued alcohol consumption, or of decreasing intake, remain unclear."

But reviewers invited to comment on the study warned that the study did not take into account the reasons for people stopping drinking or cutting down.

Harvey Finkel, from the Boston University Medical Center, said: "As people age, even disregarding medical obstacles, social interactions generally decrease, which leads to both less stimulation to drink and less opportunity to drink."



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A-B gets more time on City Beverage 

Monday, June 25, 2012 12:02:14 PM

Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch


June 21, 2012

Anheuser-Busch Wednesday asked Illinois liquor regulators for more time to review their case on City Beverage, and their request was granted.

The Illinois Liquor Control Commission pushed back its hearing on the case until October 1 - though a spokeswoman said it may be delayed further. Lawyers for Anheuser-Busch requested more details on the Commission's staff recommendation that the seven-member board revoke the license for City Beverage - in which A-B owns a 30 percent stake. A new Illinois law prohibits brewers from owning distributorships.

A-B and the Commission will trade paperwork through July, said Commission spokeswoman Sue Hofer. A full hearing is now scheduled for Oct. 1, though Hofer said that could be pushed back.

"There's a lot to do between now and then," she said.

The delays could also give A-B time to negotiate a settlement, or sell its share of City Beverage.

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10th Anniversary of American Beverage Licensees Celebrated by Beverage Retailers & Industry Members at ABL Conv 

Friday, June 22, 2012 12:11:50 PM


Mix of seminars, networking and product education highlight annual meeting

Bethesda, MD - June 22, 2012 -Beer, wine and spirits retailers and members of the alcohol industry from across the country gathered at the 10th Annual ABL Convention in Las Vegas June 10 - 12 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of American Beverage Licensees, the leading national organization representing independent beverage licensees.  For three days, convention attendees heard from speakers and top industry executives representing all three tiers of the alcohol industry, authorities on public attitudes toward alcohol, and took part in continuing education events featuring business improvement information.


"One of our goals for this year's convention was to engage in a business-to-business conversation between independent retailers who own and operate their establishments, and the heads of industry companies who also hold leadership roles in industry associations," said John Bodnovich, ABL's Executive Director.  "The result was a productive dialogue covering everything from market trends to policy positions, providing everyone in attendance with valuable insights into our industry."


Convention attendees were joined by alcohol producers and distributors, with presentations and panel discussions from John McDonnell, COO of The Patron Spirits Company and Chairman of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States; Charlie Merinoff, Chairman & CEO of The Charmer Sunbelt Group and Chairman of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America; Steve Lytle, Director, Columbia Distributing and Chairman of the National Beer Wholesalers Association; and Joe McClain, President of the Beer Institute.


As this year's convention marked the tenth anniversary of ABL, the program explored public attitudes about alcohol and how they have changed over the last ten years, as well as over the last 100.  ABL welcomed Adam Chafetz, President & CEO of Health Communications; and Dr. Jeffrey Schaler, Ph.D, M. Ed, to share their perspectives on how alcohol is perceived as a public health issue, and more broadly in the context of American society, both historically and today.


The convention also featured educational seminars focused on how retailers can improve their bottom line and protect themselves from threats to their businesses.   Seminar topics included improving the internet presence of a business by Kim Frederiksen of Olicity; protecting against dram shop liability by Stephen Talpins, an attorney with Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell; and how marketing beer to women can make a difference in sales and the perception of a business by Ginger Johnson of Women Enjoying Beer.  An on-site tour and reception at Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada's state-of-the-art, 425,000 square foot distribution center left attendees with a better understanding of the behind-the-scenes operations of a world-class beverage alcohol distributor.   


Networking, social and product education events were also an integral part to this year's ABL Convention experience, bringing retailers a taste of new products and established brands.  Anheuser-Busch, Beam, Beverage Media, Brown-Forman, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, House Band Wines, MillerCoors, National Association of Beverage Importers, RumChata and Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada provided an opportunity for attendees to sample the best of the industry and interact with fellow retailers. 


The convention concluded with the ABL Top Shelf Award Banquet, sponsored by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and recognizing the industry's finest.  Bennett Glazer, CEO of Glazer's Inc., a leading wine and spirits distributor, was honored with ABL's Top Shelf Award.  Mr. Glazer was joined by friends, business colleagues and convention attendees in celebration of the highest honor given by ABL, recognizing those who have demonstrated excellence over their careers in the beverage alcohol industry and in their communities.  


Also honored at the banquet were the Brown-Forman Retailers of the Year.  Nominated byABL's state and regional affiliates, the Retailer of the Year awards recognize dedicated ABL retailers who are the last to handle beverage alcohol products before they reach consumers,and are the face of the industry to millions of Americans.


Prior to the convention, the ABL Board of Directors elected the following new officers: Vice President Warren Scheidt of Cork Liquors in Columbus, IN; Vice President Steve Morris of Jorgenson's in Helena, MT; Treasurer Ray Cox from Elite Beverages in Indianapolis, IN; and At-Large Representative Don Diserens of Alton Sports Tap in Alton, IL.  They join President Chuck Ferrar of Bay Ridge Wine and Spirits in Annapolis, MD; Vice President Victor Pittman of Silver Leaf Wines & Spirits in Ridgeland, MS; Vice President Bob Sprenger of Bubba's in Marion, WI; and At-Large Representative Rob Swearingen of the Al-Gen Dinner Club in Rhinelander, WI, to form ABL's Executive Committee for the 2012-2013 term.


In June 2013, for the first time in its history, ABL will head to Washington, DC to hold its Annual Conference, giving beverage licensees the opportunity to share their stories with their elected officials and advocate on behalf of the businesses and industry.


For photos, quotes, and more information about the 2012 ABL Convention, please contact American Beverage Licensees.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012 2:00:12 PM

Source: Chicago Sun-Times


Jun 20th

There's a brouhaha brewing over how Budweiser gets doled out to Chicago bars and liquor stores that could - if Anheuser-Busch gets its way - affect the beer selection at your local watering hole.

Here's the issue: Budweiser's parent company wants to retain its 30-percent ownership stake in a mega-beer distributor, City Beverage. But attorneys for the Illinois Liquor Control Commission say that's illegal under the state's new "craft beer law." And they have recommended revoking the wholesaler license of City Beverage - which distributes beer in Chicago, Peoria and other parts of the state - until the brewer divests its ownership interest.

The final decision rests with the seven-member liquor commission, which is set to take up the matter at a Wednesday hearing.

For Anheuser-Busch, which is owned by Belgium-based InBev, this is the latest standoff with the liquor commission in a years-long push by Anheuser-Busch to increase its market share in the Chicago area - currently dominated by Chicago-based Miller/Coors - and gain more control over beer sales by also controlling the wholesale distribution to retailers.

If Budweiser gets its way, distributors and retailers say drinkers who enjoy a variety of beers could be left crying in their pints.

Michael Binstein, owner of the Chicago-based Binny's Beverage Depot chain, said if beer Goliaths such as Anheuser-Busch get to wield ownership influence over wholesalers or retailers, he might as well name his 28 stores "Budweiser Beverage Depot."

Put it this way, Binstein said, "Would the NFL allow the Green Bay Packers to purchase 30 percent of the Chicago Bears? The answer is not if the mission was to foster and protect a truly competitive and independent league. And I think that's a fair analogy."

Currently, Illinois has a "three-tier" system of selling beer, wine and liquor through independent distributors and retail outlets - post-Prohibition regulation aimed at protecting the public from the potential "social ills" of drinking, advocates of a beer-sales status quo said. And the new craft beer law states each of those tiers must be independent of the other.

An Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman declined to answer questions, but did say in a written statement that the company wants to remain involved in distributing beer "based on the local market." An Anheuser-Busch vice president argued that the company has legally had a stake in Illinois distributorships for years and should be allowed to retain its investment, according to a written statement.

The makers of Bud Light have hired clout-heavy lobbyists from both sides of the aisle to push their point of view. The team includes former state Sen. James DeLeo (D-Chicago), and former State Reps. Brent Hassert (R-Romeoville) and Coy Pugh (D-Chicago), a former gang member and convicted felon.

But don't worry, Bud drinkers, you'll still be able to buy the King of Beers in Chicago regardless of the liquor commission decision.

"There's zero chance of a Budweiser shortage," liquor commission lawyer Ivan Fernandez said. "We're not looking to hurt anyone, including the consumer."



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