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Frankenmuth thrives, while neighbor G. Heileman brewery remains for sale.

Frankenmuth thrives, while neighbor G. Heileman brewery remains for sale

While a 1.4-million-barrel-a-year brewery here has been put up for sale by G. Heileman Brewing Co., a tiny specialty brewer just down the street is thriving.

It's all a matter of scale. The larger brewery is too small for economical operation by Heileman, one of the nation's top five beer companies.

Heileman, based in La Crosse, WI, and owned by Bond Corp. of Australia, has been streamlining its operation--closing, selling or offering for sale seven of its 13 breweries, including the one in Frankenmuth, since 1987.

Down the street, the independent Frankenmuth Brewery Inc., operating at about a tenth of its 50,000 barrel-a-year capacity, doesn't even try to compete with giants like Heileman, president and co-owner Fred Schumacher said.

Schumacher said volume wasn't what he had in mind when he bought the 19th century Geyer brewery, then in bankruptcy, in the spring of 1988.

He had more than 20 years of technical and marketing experience with the Schlitz Brewing Co., owned by a Milwaukee beer importing company, and envisioned a niche in specialty brews.

"You can have almost as many varieties of beer as there are with wine," he said.

"With the big breweries, that got lost," he said. "We can't compete on price, but we can offer premium beer at premium prices to the connoisseur."

That appears to be working, Schumacher said, citing sales growth and big plans for the future.

The Heileman moves are part of a consolidation of the U.S. brewing industry that's been going on since World War II, said Jeff Mendel, associate director, the Institute for Brewing Studies in Boulder, CO.

The trend was for the larger brewers to compete on price and efficiency rather than taste and variety, and by the late 1970s they were making virtually identical, standard beer, Mendel said.

J. Adams gets Pabst

The Pabst Brewing Co. recently announced the selection of J. Adams Sales Co. of Nevada as their wholesale distributor representative for Nevada and the surrounding area.

"We are very happy to have selected to represent the Pabst Brewery in our territory," said Pat Renwick, president, J. Adams. "The quality products they produce will be an excellent addition for our company and we will continue to provide the consumer with fresh, quality beers available through their favorite retail outlet."

The appointment became effective January 15.
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Title Annotation:Frankenmuth Brewery Inc., G. Heileman Brewing Co.
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Mar 5, 1990
Words:399
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