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Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for NYCWFF

One of America's most storied brands — behind Sam Adams and Angry Orchard — became a face of the hard seltzer boom. Now it's a face of a bust.

  • What’s new: Boston Beer lost $58 million last quarter because of a drop-off in demand for its Truly drink.

Stat du jour: This is only the fifth time it lost money since going public in 1995 — all because a spiked seltzer bet went sour.

  • It's also its biggest quarterly loss ever, per FactSet. (Runner up: the $3.7 million it lost during the financial crisis.)

Details: Boston Beer took a $100 million charge as it wrote off spiked seltzer inventory and paid shortfall fees to vendors.

  • Founder Jim Koch told investors Thursday night: "We moved aggressively to build inventory to try to avoid the out-of-stocks that we experienced in 2019 and in 2020." But that level of demand wasn't there.

The market is supersaturated, but the reopening is also to blame.

  • One example: White Claw, owned by Mark Anthony Group, lost "significant market share this year ... partly because bars and restaurants have reopened," says Nadine Sarwat, an analyst who covers the company at Bernstein.

Worth noting: Boston Beer did ship about 200,000 more barrels than this time last year, thanks to more demand for its Twisted Tea and other brands.

The bottom line: This isn’t just a Boston Beer problem. Rival Constellation Brands just took an $80 million charge related to its seltzer business.

  • "Saturday Night Live" recently poked fun at the hard seltzer top: "Everyone's doing them — Bud Light, Corona ... J.C.Penney." See the sketch.

Go deeper

John Frank, author of Denver
Nov 19, 2021 - Axios Chicago

2021's biggest beer release is all about the barrels

The lineup of 2021 Bourbon County stouts. Photo courtesy of Goose Island

For this year's Bourbon County beers, Chicago's Goose Island is returning to what made the brewery the OG in the first place: its barrels.

What to know: Bourbon County Brand Stout debuts on Black Friday — an unofficial beer holiday — and easily ranks as the most widely anticipated beer release each year, writes John Frank, our resident beer nerd at Axios Denver.

  • The lucky Chicago-area beer fans who won the Prop Day lottery get an early preview this weekend.
Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Prosecutors charge parents of Michigan school shooting suspect

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The parents of a 15-year-old accused of killing four students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, according to court documents.

The latest: Lawyers for James and Jennifer Crumbley told the Detroit News they are "returning to the area to be arraigned," after law enforcement officials announced a search for the Crumbleys had been initiated.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

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