Sean Lawson makes about 100 barrels a year of some 30 “brands” of beer in his garage-like outpost outside his Vermont home, the origin of much-sought-after Lawson’s Finest Liquids. Put in perspective, one finished batch of No. 9 at Magic Hat’s Burlington digs make 150 barrels. And yet, Lawson’s had one of the longest lines at last weekend’s Vermont Brewers Festival, snaking from his taps to along the festival’s outer fencing…

When you think of Killian’s, do you think of craft? Brand manager Brad Johnson thinks you might. He and brand director Libby Mura say the brand already acts like entry-level craft in terms of pricing, age demo and how it sells on “intrinsics” at retail. Now they’re revamping marketing to harness the trend, starting with a promo this fall featuring Celtic punk rock band The Dropkick Murphys…

The numbers are in for beer’s biggest holiday. The entire category increased its case and dollar sales by millions over last year. More saliently, craft saw record highs for the 3 weeks ended July 10…

Earlier this week we reported on Sunoco’s pilot growler-filling program at 12 of its Buffalo-area APlus Convenience stores. We were interested in the progress and implications for the 600-store concept, so we pinged spokesperson Joe McGinn with a little Q&A…

Long Trail isn’t only a good study for its impressive draft and off-premise numbers. The whole system offers lessons on synergy and R&D, especially since the No. 13 brewer purchased Otter Creek around the turn of 2009, and with it, Wolaver’s organic brand. The brands are now on the uptick after a pre-purchase slump…

Let’s look at Vermont. It’s a singular market, possibly a bit like Canada, which is especially interesting for craft, considering it has the highest amount of breweries per capita – 22 – in the states. People here are crazy about all things local, from cheese, to beer, to, of course, maple syrup…

(See yesterday’s issue for the intro to Taco Mac , the Atlanta-based sports-themed craft beer chain.) Bev director Fred Crudder says the growth of Taco Mac and that of its Brewniversity program are

Last week we profiled one of the fastest growing established craft brands, Sweetwater Brewing out of Atlanta, Georgia, whose chief Freddy Bensch mentioned that they “do a lot of business with the Taco Macs of the world.” If you don’t live in Taco Mac’s tri-state area of Georgia-North Carolina-Tennessee, you might not be that familiar with this craft-forward , sports-themed casual restaurant that lets people come as they are – domestic light beer drinker or craft aficionado alike…

Last month it was a handful of Massachusetts distributors that banded together: Blue-silver distribs Burke, Atlas, Merrimack Valley, Commercial Distributors and Colonial Beverage created a strategic coalition to provide one point of contact for suppliers and statewide distribution. Now an alliance of independent distributors across Minnesota and the Dakotas are doing something similar…

We’re starting to see red. Not often, and not in overall segment growth, of course, but in terms of YTD case sales growth for a few key craft brands. Fat Tire, Boston Lager, even Sam Adams seasonals and Sierra Nevada seasonals are either slightly down or without their fair share of growth, per IRI numbers, some even with a few more points of market distribution…

Friday we broke news of New Belgium having sent letters to distributors in Ohio and Michigan seeking feedback on operations and markets. Those didn’t signify slam-dunk deals (though Brian “BK” Krueger admits Michigan’s on for early 2012). The letters are actually part of a new, lengthy discovery process NBB now makes when looking at new territories…

**Alert**

Here’s a State of the Union on one of those regionally strong brands we keep hearing about: Atlanta’s SweetWater. Other states want, but Georgia certainly loves its homeboys. SweetWater’s 420 Pale Ale is up almost 30% on a base of 90,200 cases per IRI latest numbers, strongly driven by existing outlets…

Andrew Goeler, A-B’s vice president of import, craft and specialty brands, resigned from Craft Brewers Alliance’s Board of Directors on seemingly abrupt but completely civil terms last week.

Will more beer be branded like Goose Island’s 312 across other major U.S. area codes? CBD was tipped off last week to A-B filing for word marks that correspond with some 14 major metropolitan markets. We dug in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database and indeed found the filings, including some for 619 (San Diego), 702 (Las Vegas), 303 (Denver), 415 (San Francisco), 216 (Cleveland), even 314 (St. Louis), among others. You’ll notice there are some very savvy beer towns in there…