Monday, November 5, 2007

Major Pennsylvania brewery sold

The Lion Brewery, in Wilkes-Barre, has been sold.

Details when I get them, but it's a solid story. Been a lot of rumor on this one for the past three months, now it looks like it's really happening.

Update: Some details are starting to trickle in from a variety of in- and out-of-house sources. The buyers have backgrounds in soda distribution -- not a bad thing -- and plan to continue the expansion begun by the current owners, perhaps to include a canning line...finally. They want to increase the distribution and sales of the Lion's own brands, too, a welcome sentiment.

Might I suggest to the new owners: get some good salespeople on the streets in the Scranton & Wilkes-Barre area! It's still way too hard to find Lion beers on tap in this home area, something that Yuengling always had, and still does -- Yuengling sales make up something like 45% of beer sold in their home county. You gotta have a base to build from. Hey, I saw some Lion product placements in a recent episode of The Office (Lionshead and Pocono): follow up! And spend some money on promotion. Spending on the plant's great, but like the song goes, "How can you win the world if nobody knows you're there?" ("Hey Look Me Over", from Wildcat) You've got a great product in Steg 150, one that should be on in every bar in Wilkes-Barre, but nobody knows about it.

Oh, and just for me? BRING BACK SUMMER STOCK LAGER! Had to be said. What a great hot afternoon beer. A sixtel of Summer Stock should be the official softball beer of Pennsylvania.

Just some thoughts.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope this doesn't mean an end of Stegmaier Gold Medal returnables!

Anonymous said...

Although I hadn't heard that they were for sale, I do hope they will maintain production of their house brands. Solid beers from a brewery that's been solid for a good long time!

Anonymous said...

Stegmaier Gold Medal returnables are on their way out (slowly) anyway, from what I've heard. As with most breweries (really only two in PA now that use them), the bottle soaker is a high-maintenance piece of equipment, new glass is only available from one manufacturer, and it's not cheap. The package has been available only intermittently for the past six months or so, and I see them going away within the next year or two. This may, indeed, speed up that process. I'll miss them, too! There's always Straub, who recently made a big ($250,000) commitment to the package.

LandmarkBeer said...

Any truth to the rumor Pabst is involved in the purchase

Lew Bryson said...

No mention of Pabst in anything I've heard so far.

LandmarkBeer said...

I've heard rumors about Pabst/Lion/Southampton from some good sources.

Rich said...

I have to agree with you Lew, I never really knew about the Lion until I read about it in PA Breweries and I live in PA, but then again this is Yuengling country here. You just don't see too many of their beers on the shelf and it is virtually non-existent on tap around here.

Anonymous said...

Brewery Hill pale ale was my stable for years. When it turned into Pocono the hops went south to me. But Lions seasonals are nice to have. Love to see them with a Dobbelbock.

Eric

Loren said...

Suggestion?

Open a freaking brewpub in that godforsaken beer wasteland!

Sheesh!

Lew Bryson said...

Loren,
Amen to that, although the Arena and Cooper's are arguments against the word "wasteland." (Did I hear that the Par Four finally closed?)

sam k said...

Speaking of brewpubs, Pittsburgh Brewing had plans to construct a brewpub on site at the Liberty Avenue location 15 years ago. It never got off the ground, but think of what the concept could have done for the reputation (and bottom line) of that now withering regional. Why not one at the Lion? They already have a reputation for very good, often great beer, and one of the highest-profile public awareness brewery events anywhere in their outstanding Oktoberfeat (If you haven't gone yet, put it on next year's calendar NOW). They had 16,000 attendees this year, 12,000 on Saturday alone. GO LION!

Anonymous said...

what about the rumour that yards was sold to the lion?

according to beer advocate, the lion is now the holder of a fictitious name for yards.

how does the sale effect yards move to the new brewery and will they be producing beer there or in wilkes barre?

Lew Bryson said...

Well, considering the amount of total smack that was traded about the whole Yards/Philadelphia Brewing situation on BeerAdvocate... I wouldn't have much to say about that rumor.

bill mc said...

Hey, I know you've got other fish to fry, but what's shakin' with the main website????

Lew Bryson said...

Well, Bill...mostly, this has become the main website. I didn't even get a Buzz up this month. I'm just buried, trying to get New Jersey Breweries finished, editing an issue of Malt Advocate, and doing two major stories (and two small ones) all at the same time. I screwed up my scheduling, what can I say? Something had to give, and it was the website.

I'm re-thinking what to do with it, because what I'm doing now isn't working. Might just split it up into a couple blogs and a seriously stripped-down site for book updates.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the new owners will reconsider the discontinuation of liebotschaner cream ale-- which is (was) a VERY good beer that no one really got, mostly because of its price and people being afraid of the name and the 16oz returnables.

Anonymous said...

according to steve mashington @yards, the beer advocate "rumor" is true about the lion having a relationship with yards.

Yards has a contract with Lion to brew beer for yards "if needed."

Lew Bryson said...

Well, actually, the "BeerAdvocate rumor" was some bizarre speculation that either Yards had bought the Lion or that the Lion had bought Yards...neither of which had any truth to them.

Tom Kehoe has prudently put a contract in place with The Lion to brew Yards in case the new brewery he's building on Delaware Avenue in Philadelphia doesn't get done in time to ensure a steady stream of Yards to the market. It's not something you can do at the drop of a hat, so he's got it in place now. Smart.