Polar announced yesterday it will put your drunk uncle’s favorite political forecast to the test. You know the one I’m talking about, right? That one uncle of yours who gets drunk at every family gathering and starts to rant about how the only way we’re going to get people mad enough to take to the streets and overthrow the government is if the beer runs out?

Well, here you have it, Tío…

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Empresas Polar SA, the country’s largest privately-held company and biggest brewer, said Wednesday that it will be forced to stop producing beer because it can’t get the foreign currency it needs to purchase malted barley.

“We haven’t been able to replenish inventory, and we only have malted barley until April 29,” the company said in a statement published on its website. “Because of that, we’re obligated to suspend the production of beer until we get access to the foreign currency necessary to procure the material.”

The mind boggles over how Gawker’s going to headline this one.

34 COMMENTS

  1. When the German Welser and the Spaniards arrived in Coro and as long as they explored the whole region up to Barquisimeto, they found the original Venezuelans drinking cocuy…and drinking and drinking and drinking.

    If Venezuelans back then could rely on the fermentation of Agave cocui leaves: why can’t we do that now, in moments of the Great Economic War?

    No pasarán! -> We will remain drunk!

    • “No pasarán! -> We will remain drunk!”

      “Preferimos acostumbrarnos aunque nos tengan pisados porque así no confrontamos, porque si confrontamos el chavismo nos da un pepazo en la cabeza.”

      Llaguno’s gunmen showed the best instrument of control that chavismo has ever had in its power: The threat of murder if the people protests.

  2. Also, it should be noted too that it’s not like ALL THE BEER IS OVER, more like ONLY POLAR’S BEER IS OVER, there are some other brands in the market, such as Regional and Zulia.

    Also, Regional belongs to the Cisneros, the same ones that own vendevisión, rojos rojitos.

    • problem with that from a business standpoint, is Polar supplies ~75% of the market. The other producers simply don’t have the manufacturing capability to meet the extra demand. Sure, they can ramp up production a little bit like they do for seasonal holidays and meet demand for a few weeks before the warehouses start running out, but someone with 25% market share can’t just take over the other 75%. Not unless the government steps in and expropriates Polar.

      And while there is still a surprisingly large group of uninformed people that somehow believe that Mendoza should charitably DONATE the $ needed for imports, the majority doesn’t think that. I seriously doubt that at this stage in the game Maduro has enough political capital left to expropriate Polar successfully.

  3. Not to worry, beer will still be around for a while, but it will be ‘Regional’, remember those XXI century thieves who are taking over Polar’s business and should be hanged together with Maduro when the chicken come home to roost.

  4. As stated by some above, the plan supposedly is to give funds to VendePatria Cisneros for their Regional brand to supposedly supplant the Polar deficiency, while setting up Grupo Polar for a Govt. takeover, a la Diablitos. But, what probably will happen, is that little/no funds will reach the Regional brand, certainly not to replace Polar’s massive market share. One thought that when corn flour became scarce/expensive, the Pueblo would react, but they didn’t, and similarly probably will not react with beer scarcity. The Petro Peon mentality is firmly ingrained, the strings are being pulled by Cuba with 50 years’ experience, and the Pueblo, anyway, has the alternative of “Pela Perro” (white lightning with Parchita/et. al. juice)….

  5. Our beer consumption went up 200% in recent years , a sign of the good times when large oil revenues flooded our economy , maybe a sign that the USD exchange rate was too low and allowed beer to remain cheaper than it deserved to be in a more rationally organized economy. Beer is made with imported stuff , if Venezuela has no dollars (most of it is now spent on servicing our huge international debt and in the import of other very essential consumption items) then it becomes more difficult to import the stuff with which it is manufactured…….and which cannot be grown in Venezuelas climate. Somehing similar may be happening to the wheat used to make bread and which all of a sudden has become so scarce and expensive. !!

    Another sign that brings home to us , how our standard of living has fallen to levels we hadnt seen in our living memory……we are fast becoming a nation of paupers !!

  6. All my years in Venezuela, from baby to young adult leaving, are tied to Polar beer.

    And I dont drink anything. But my father was a Polar salesman, rising up at 4 AM to drive his truck and start the daily task of selling the stuff to the clients in Sabana Grande.

    Polar beer paid for my food, my clothes, my everything. And there was always beer at home for my father and malta for us kids. Afternoons in the parking lot looking at him checking something in the truck, or at the “zone” doing the rounds collecting the money, or him getting stopped in the street by somebody saying “¡Oye, Polar!” as greeting…

    So this? Is a big “nail in the coffin” moment for me, in the sense of how close it is that the Venezuela I remember is dead and not coming back.

  7. One situation that many people are not aware is that with current price controls, the beer side of Polar business helps keep afloat the food side of the business which is regulated (and losing money).

    Food side of the business includes Harina Pan (corn meal), Aceite Mazeite (corn oil), and many others (see here: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alimentos_Polar )

    If the beer business has problems, the food business will follow…

    • Yes, you see, more proof that it would be better managed as a state owned company and should be expropriated!

      SORRY, I couldn’t resist. I’m kidding. Seriously.

      You make a good point there. There’s no way the food side of things can be making a profit under these conditions, but they’re practically obligated to forge on ahead anyway, in the hopes that they can survive until the turnaround without going bankrupt or getting expropriated. Killing the beer business could have some serious consequences for all of Polar….

    • Harina Pan for arepas is another staple that will disappear from the venezuelan daily consumption. I believe the Harina Pan is now been made in Colombia and probably soon in Florida where you can find it “como el arroz” . Malta and Polar beer is already been sold in Florida, USA.

  8. Other beer makers are continuing to recieve the USD they need to buy the imported hops, this is a targeted attack against Polar and its owners probably for being such succesful popular private company despite all the harasment …..Nicolas and the Food Minister have something personal against the main owner , maybe the fact that he can go to a baseball stadium and be cheered while any mention of Maduro or his regime is boohed, you can see that Maduros blood seethes when mentioned the manager owner !! He also challenges them with fact that make them appear vindictive and foolish.!! That for someone as conceited as Maduro is intolerable………!! He is truly earning the hatred that so many humble people have against him!!

    • Do the other beer makers make food? Random thought here: reading about street protests in El Marques over not having electric power for two days … whatever food they managed to get will go bad if it requires refrigeration. There’s always ice, and beach-goers will have styrofoam, but putting a refrigerator-full into those boxes, with ice, is a pain in the neck. Refrigeration units are an overlooked or taken-for-granted modern marvel.

      Setty commented on “Panem” that recommended power restrictions were misdirected.

      A year ago I had a problem with my refrigerator that took two days. I chucked almost all the food. When I got it fixed, the lights inside when I opened the door and the relief I felt honest to goodness made me think of a cathedral.

      Lights and TV I can do without for a few days – even internet. I had a cable provider problem a couple of years ago, two days worth. But not having refrigeration is a bigger inconvenience.

      • Yep. I can stretch out a hammock for a few days, take a long unplanned weekend, and wait for the power to come on. TV, whatever. Lights? I’ve got candles, a flashlight, and a box of rechargeable batteries.

        But… the refrigerator… It’s amazing how much we take that for granted. On the good side, most of the food that is scarce doesn’t require refrigeration, with the exception of beef, chicken, and liquid milk obtained at regulated prices.

        We used to cook larger pots, and freeze it for faster reheating during the week. But a while ago we started keeping less in the freezer, to limit spoilage from blackouts. This week we’re working on emptying it out even further, given current policies….

  9. “Your drunk uncle who keeps saying shit’s only going to get real when the beer runs out is about to have his theory put to the test.”

    I love this line. Esto si es mi suegro….

  10. One of the main household ítem in Venezuela that consumes electricity is precisely the refrigerator… Specially in high temperature metropolitan like Maracaibo (where AC is also popular), Puerto Ordaz, Valencia, Maracay, Puerto Cabello, Barquisimeto, probably 30 to 40% of all electricity consumption. This is why it is not practical to ask people to save 30% of their electricity use without affecting you fridge (turn it off 4 hours per day ?). But you can save 10 to 15% by Just cleaning the condenser of dust … Hoy many campaigns about this simple measure have you seen ?

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