Out of Miller Lite? Hackers May Be to Blame

Brewing and distribution has been further disrupted by a cyberattack that followed the Texas storm that shut down a Fort Worth brewery for 11 days.

Molson Coors Beverage Co., whose brews include Miller High Life, Miller Lite, Coors Light and the Leinenkugel’s family of products, is recovering from a cyberattack that has led to disruptions in brewery operations, production and product shipments.

A sign recently posted at one Wisconsin Pick ’n Save store informed customers that some Miller and Coors products are out of stock due to the cyberattack at Molson Coors.

Chicago-based Molson Coors operates a major brewery and has administrative offices on a sprawling campus on Milwaukee’s West Side, which formerly operated under the direction of Miller Brewing Co. and then MillerCoors. 

Molson Coors stated that it has made “substantial progress” in restoring its systems following the recent cybersecurity incident, the date of which has not been disclosed. 

Globally, all Molson Coors breweries are currently producing and shipping products and have been ramping up to near normal operating levels, the company stated in a filing late last month with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Company spokesman Marty Maloney declined comment on the matter beyond a March 26 statement attached to the SEC filing.

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Despite the progress led by Molson Coors employees, along with the support of leading forensic information technology firms and other consultants, the company continues to experience some delays and disruptions in its business, including brewery operations, production and shipments in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, the filing stated. 

Molson Coors noted that the cybersecurity attack followed an unprecedented February winter storm in Texas that forced government authorities to impose energy restrictions, causing the company’s brewery in Fort Worth to be offline for 11 days. 

The company estimated that the cyberattack and Texas storm will shift between 1.5 million and about 1.7 million barrels of production and shipments from the first quarter of 2021 to the balance of the fiscal year.  

“Over the past few weeks, we have faced significant and unforeseeable obstacles,” Molson Coors President and CEO Gavin Hattersley said in a statement. “While these obstacles will have a negative impact on our first quarter shipments and financial results, we believe the fundamentals of our revitalization plan are strong and our future remains bright.”

Immediately upon learning of the cybersecurity attack, Molson Coors activated its incident response plan and communicated with employees and business partners about the issue, according to the filing. “We have also engaged leading forensic IT experts and legal counsel to assist our investigation, restore operations and identify the root cause,” the company said. “We have made substantial progress in restoring our systems and all of our breweries are producing and shipping products. We notified law enforcement and are cooperating in their investigation.” 

Molson Coors stated that it has notified and is working with all relevant insurance companies to recover costs associated with the cyberattack. 

The cyberattack and the Texas storm have had minimal impact on Molson Coors’ innovation pipeline, according to the filing. 

Molson Coors stated that it remains “excited about our launches.”

The second variety pack of Vizzy hard seltzer and Vizzy Lemonade are already on the market, Topo Chico Hard Seltzer and Proof Point ready-to-drink mixed cocktails were expected to be launched by the end of March as planned, with new variety packs for Coors Seltzer and Topo Chico Ranch Water to follow, according to the filing.

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Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.