Another popular craft beer brand files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

U.S. beer sales finished 2023 on a positive note, rising 1.4% from 2022. But it wasn’t success from domestic brewers that drove the figure higher.

A $1 billion, or 9.1%, increase in sales of imported beer pushed the industry over the top year-on-year, the data provider NIQ, which tracks sales in supermarkets, drugstores, mass-merchandise stores, convenience stores and liquor stores, reported, according to NACS.

Related: Popular craft beer brand files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Modelo Especial replaces Bud Light as top-selling beer

Modelo Especial in May 2023 overtook Bud Light as the top-selling beer in the U.S. That followed a slump in sales of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s  (BUD) – Get Free Report Bud Light after the singer-songwriter Kid Rock in April 2023 called for a boycott of the brand. 

That call in turn came after the company partnered with the transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney on a March-Madness-themed social-media post.

Aside from the difficulties Bud Light had in 2023, several smaller craft breweries around the country struggled for various other reasons, which forced some of them to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing began having financial problems after Japan-based brewer Sapporo Holdings purchased the company in August 2017 for $85 million. By June 2023 the beer brand ceased national sales before filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2023 and closing permanently.

A much smaller Colorado craft brewery, Guanella Pass Brewing, on Dec. 30 filed for Chapter 11 protection to reorganize its debt. 

Then, after ringing in the New Year, Zydeco Brew Werks of Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 11 filed for Chapter 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida with plans to close its main brewery and restaurant location on 7th Avenue in the Ybor City area of Tampa on Jan. 21.

A man holds his beer glass in his hand in a bar. Photo: Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez/dpa (Photo by Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez/picture alliance via Getty Images)

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Lease dispute leads to craft brewer’s Chapter 11 filing

Unfortunate circumstances are continuing to drive more small craft brewers into bankruptcy this year. 

Cherry Hill, N.J.-based craft brewery Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing filed for Chapter 11 protection on Jan. 12 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey. It was facing economic hardship after the company’s owner was not allowed to renegotiate its lease with the brewer’s landlord.

Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing’s owner, Jamie Queli, on Jan. 12 posted a message on Meta Platforms’  (META) – Get Free Report Facebook site thanking its customers and supporters and explaining the company’s predicament.

“We have vigorously tried to sign a lease extension with our landlord to no avail as our next door neighbor has leased out the space from underneath us,’ Queli wrote. “We are extremely disappointed and quite frankly, appalled at the actions of both companies and their adamant refusals to negotiate with us.”

The building’s owner is Endurance Real Estate Group LLC, and the building at 1940 Olney Ave. in Cherry Hill is also occupied by the brewery’s neighbor, Bestwork Industries for the Blind Inc., NJBiz reported.

Endurance and Bestwork did not immediately respond to requests for comment from TheStreet. 

The brewery will maintain regular business hours and serve its tasting-room visitors through its final day of operation on Feb. 29, the message said.

“While this chapter is coming to an end, we hope that Forgotten Boardwalk will continue, possibly in another form, in the future. In the meantime, we are welcoming any and all business opportunities for Forgotten Boardwalk,” the message said.

Forgotten Boardwalk opened its brewery in 2014 in Cherry Hill at the former location of Flying Fish Brewing Co. Coincidentally, Flying Fish also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the District of New Jersey in late December 2023 after a proposed sale of the Somerdale, N.J., craft brewery to Cape May Brewing Co. fell through.

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