Have you ever seen non-alcoholic spirits... ON WEED?!
Plus: Nashville whiskey union, more cringe stunt booze, "The wifes are out fellas" + more
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🧾 The Settle-Up
— Non-Alcoholic Weed Whiskey (“Upon Federal Legalization,” Of Course): Big “future of booze” news broke Thursday as Canadian cannabis conglomerate Tilray announced its acquisition of Colorado’s Breckenridge Distillery (no relation to Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Breckenridge Brewery.) The firm, which scooped up Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Co. last year, says it’s got its eye set on “THC-based product adjacencies upon federal legalization in the U.S.” So non-alcoholic whiskey… on weed, I guess? “Non-alcoholic spirits” were already a strain on the language; if we’re gonna start putting weed in virgin liquor look-a-likes, it’s probably time to just establish new vocabulary entirely. May I submit: weedskey, cannabooze, potohol… man, this is gonna suck.
— Workers Unionize at Nashville Distillery Owned by Constellation: Little bit of breaking news from the Volunteer State, as ~35 workers at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in Nashville went public with their union drive midday Friday 12/10. Nelson’s Green Brier, maker of Belle Meade bourbon and some other stuff too, is majority-owned by Constellation Brands, a major macrobrewer/importer that owns Corona (in the US), Mondavi wines, Svedka vodka, and others. In a petition calling on Constellation for voluntary recognition, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1995 claimed the workers were underpaid and endangered by the pandemic, and that the union would be Tennessee’s first in a distillery. No immediate comment from Constellation or Nelson’s Green Brier; will update if/when I hear back. Meanwhile, check out this union logo:
— We’ve Seen the Barefoot Wines x Oreo Red Blend Before: As you may have heard from USAToday, TODAY, and other nominally credible media outlets that don’t have “today” in their name, E. & J. Gallo’s Barefoot Wine released a collaborative red blend this week with Nabisco’s Oreo brand, which promptly sold out. This is not remarkable. As I wrote about The Red Lobster x Mountain Dew DewGarita, and then the Oskar Blues x French’s mustard beer, and then the Arby’s x Tattersall Distillery french-fry flavored vodka, this is simply the latest in a long line of liquified marketing gimmicks hustled down our willing gullets by The Brands™. I’ll probably write something bigger on all this soon, but for now, you can stop sending them to me. Or keep it up! Nothing matters, anyway.
— Budweiser’s NFT Drop Hints at a Web3 Future for Global Legacy Brands: As promised, here’s my deeper look for VinePair at the King of Beers’ (very successful!) first non-fungible token release, and what it portends for the Web3 future of legacy CPG brands’ intellectual property libraries. Spoiler alert: lots o’ money.
— Yet Another Sexual Harassment Scandal in the Craft Brewing Business: The hits just keep coming for an industry trying to turn the corner on a year’s worth of workplace discrimination- and sexual harassment-related headlines, litigation, and ousters. Earlier this week, greater Chicago’s Hailstorm Brewing announced it had removed its co-owner/head brewer after allegations surfaced on social media that he had shoved his hands down a woman’s pants at a festival after-party in August. Woof.
— Instagram Takes Down Breweries’ Promo Photos, Refuses To Explain: The Independent reported this week that Instagram is removing without explanation posts by United Kingdom breweries that depict “beer cans and other beverages.” The breweries argue they’re not violating any community standards. Meta, which is both the new name for Instagram parent company Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg’s latest effort to salvage the grotesque legacy of the website he made to rate college girls’ hotness, no-commented the paper. This may seem trivial, but an actual policy shift would be a big problem for small breweries that rely on the platform to advertise their wares and inform their customers of hours, pandemic restrictions, etc. Stay tuned.
— In the Mormon Corridor, the ‘Dirty’ Soda Rush Is On: Friend of Fingers Sam Spence passed me this offbeat New York Times item about the Mountain West’s so-called “dirty” soda shops, where caffeine-cautious, booze-free Mormons can get… like, soda mixed drinks, basically? I’d never heard of this! It’d probably be a terrific vector for hard seltzers, but for the whole Latter Day Saints’ teetotaling ways. Hmm.
— Molson Coors Goes Big with Holiday Promos, but Kills High Life Magnums: Most beer companies’ holiday promotional items tend to be lowest-common-denominator flotsam, but The House That High Life Built has released a series of actually kinda clever merch this season, and it’s only fair that we spotlight the effort.
That said, Milwaukee Magazine executive editor Chris Drosner reported this week that the powers that be at MC also chose the 2021 season to discontinue its 750mL, Champagne-style High Life magnum, which is straight grinch behavior. Fingers reached out to the brewer to learn the reasoning behind the bummer, but received no response by press time. Will update if/when. (Thanks to all the tipsters who sent this through!)
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📈 State of the Boozeletter™: free money edition
Yesterday, Substack (the platform I use to send this newsletter) announced that Fingers was one of 11 projects selected for its Grow Fellowship. Enrollment in the program comes with a $7,000 grant and a bunch of editorial/administrative resources to help expand and improve the boozeletter. Naturally, I’m fucking delighted.
Huge thanks to every member of the Fingers Fam, and in particular to paying Friends of Fingers, for your support for Fingers’ independent coverage and commentary on how America drinks. This fellowship is validation of the community we’re building here, and I couldn’t be more proud of us. WE’RE REALLY DOING IT, YOU GUYS!
📬 Good post alert
The wifes are out fellas:
Editor’s note: If you see a good post and want to share it with the rest of the Fingers Fam, please send me that good post. You can email me or DM me on Twitter.
🤝 Only for Friends of Fingers
Paying subscribers this week got full access to two pieces behind the paywall:
The 2021 Bad Holiday Gift Guide for Heavy-Drinking Frenemies™
💀 Murdered darlings: Craft brewers vs. "sUpPlY cHaIn IsSuEs" edition
I also dropped an audio read of my newsletter from November 15th, 2021, exclusively for paid-up Friends of Fingers:
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🔝 This week’s top comment
Nick Infante, who is variously a) a Fingers Founding Member, b) a former beer industry marketer from way back when, and c) my father, had a few choice words in response to Wednesday’s column about the logistical mayhem craft brewers are grappling with these days:
Good one David. "Just-in-time" my ass.
My ass, indeed. Good comment, Dad, nice job, Dad. Remember Fingers Fam: commenting privileges are exclusively for paying subscribers. To join the conversation... well, you know what to do!
📲 Everyone’s favorite Fingers meme this week
Presumably fired up about Other Half’s latest super-limited, double-dry-hopped DIPA release ($28/4pk, limit 2/pp, NO MULES), the Fingers Fam double-tapped this meme more than any other posted to the boozeletter’s official Instagram in the past seven days.
If you haven’t followed Fingers on Instagram yet, you’re missing out on free daily original content about the booze business. Don’t do that! Do this instead:
Your feed will thank you. (Not really, that would be weird. But you know what I mean.)