Archives for


archives archives

More data that beer can be chic

More good news for the beer industry, following last week’s data about craft beer sales going strong in the first half of 2007.

From BrandWeek:

Beer sales from food, drug, liquor and convenience stores for the year ended June 2 grew 1.1% in volume, faster than spirits, which edged up 0.3% but trailed wine, which grew 2.7%, per Nielsen Monitor Plus. While Nielsen (which, like Brandweek, is owned by Nielsen Co.) touts that liquor and wine growth rates fell during that period, Impact, the New York-based trade publication, said all the categories grew in 2006 by more than 1% in volume.

BrandWeek also reports on a proprietary analysis for liquor clients by Information resources, Inc., which provided much of the information for last week’s press release from the Brewers Association. IRI found that consumers drinking less booze are substituting with high-end beer, light-calorie brews and wine. IRI figures show case sales of imports and craft beers increased 3.7% for the year ended July 15 while spirits slipped 1.1% and wine rose 4.4%.

Bump Williams, general manager of IRI’s beverage and alcohol unit, said craft beers are catching up with spirits in terms of cachet: “If they’re not drinking a martini or a vodka tonic, they want to be seen with a Corona, a Sam Adams or a Fat Tire. They’re unique, individual and chic.”

Nothing like feeling chic on a Monday morning, is there?


The tipping point, indeed

A few months agon Jack Curtin used the term “the tipping point” (which comes from Malcolm Glaldwell’s book with that title) in writing about the spread of what those of us around here understandably describe as “real beer.”

And today the Los Angeles Times joins the fray by headlining the story on the cover of its Calendar section “At the tipping point: Roll out the barrel, beer lovers are eager to taste local microbrews.” (Registration may be required.)

This look at how and why Los Angeles has finally come to “get beer” includes a lengthy list of places to drink these beers and a shorter one of brewery restaurants.

“Wine paved the way here,” Sang Yoon (of the Father’s Office, long a bastion for better beer) says. “The success of wine has opened the door for craft beer, as people now have a basic understanding of wine they didn’t have 20 years ago. People are realizing that beer can taste like peaches, or beer can taste like a coffee, or beer can taste like a chocolate milkshake. It’s a far broader palate than wine. It’s like suddenly being handed a big box of crayons.”

This story appears just a day after the Brewers Association announced craft beer sales were up 11% in the first half of 2007 and dollar sales up 14%.

And before we could even get the link to the LA Times posted, this in from the Sun Sentinel in Florida: The Sunshine State is making a name for itself with great craft brews.

What’s next, North Dakota?


Craft beer sales soar (again)

Craft beer sales

Repeat after us:

Craft beer sales soared in 2005.

Craft beer sales soared in 2004.

Craft beer sales soared in the first half of 2007.

It’s starting to seem like something other than news. But the Brewers Association did in fact have something new to report today when it released first-half data: For the first time ever craft beer has exceeded more than a 5% dollar share of total beer sales.

The volume of craft beer sold in the first half of 2007 rose 11% compared to this same period in 2006 and dollar growth increased 14%. Overall, the U.S. beer industry sold one million more barrels in the first half of 2007 compared to 2006, with 400,000 of these new barrels produced by craft breweries.

Scan data from Information Resources, Inc. provide confirm that craft beers sales are rocking. Craft sales in the supermarket channel through July 15 showed a 17.4% increase in dollar sales compared to the same period in 2006.


German kosher beer sells out quickly

A small brewery in eastern Germany has gone so far as to employ the services of a rabbi to make sure its beer is kosher, and has so far benefited financially.

Almost all German beer brewed to the Reinheitsgebot is technically kosher — fit for consumption according to Jewish law. However, Brauerei Hartmannsdorf has Berlin Orthodox Rabbi Yitshak Ehrenberg oversee the brewing and bottling process and give it official kosher certification.

“For very religious Jews the availability of kosher beer is tremendously important,” a psokeman said. “The certification takes it to the next level.”

The Jewish organization Saxonian Friends of Israel and SCHALOM, a Jewish restaurant in Chemnitz, came up with the idea of producing a certified kosher beer and approached the brewer at the Brauerei Hartmannsdorf in Saxony for help.


Sam Adams second quarter sales up 14.6%

Boston Beer Co., brewer of Samuel Adams beer, reported a 17.1% increase in revenue in the second quarter. The net revenue increase in the second quarter was primarily driven by a 14.6% core shipment volume increase and an increase in revenue per barrel of approximately 2%.

Samuel Adams sales have generally been a good barometer for small breweries, those the Brewers Association refers to as “craft breweries.”

Company founder Jim Koch said, “We feel very positive about our second quarter depletions growth of 16%. This was our sixth successive quarter of double digit increases. We believe these results are driven by drinkers trading up to our full flavored craft beers and increasing retailer and wholesaler support for the craft category and Samuel Adams.”


Beer still America’s drink of choice

Gallup’s annual update on Americans’ drinking habits shows beer again topping wine as the adult beverage of choice.

The poll received much attention in 2005 when wine – which consistently ranked below beer – jumped ahead, 39%-36%.

Beer returned to the top last year, being favored by 41% of those who drink (64% of the population), and in 2007 was at 40%.

According to a press release from Anheuser-Busch, beer represents the largest segment in the alcohol beverage category in both volume and dollar sales and accounts for 56% of all alcohol beverage servings.

Gallup points out that male, female, younger, and older drinkers have different beverage preferences, primarily in regards to beer versus wine. Beer is the favored beverage among male drinkers and younger drinkers, while wine is the top choice among female drinkers and older drinkers.

Not long after the 2005 results were released, Bob Lachky of Anheuser-Busch embarked on a campaign to improve beer’s image that turned into Here’s to Beer.

“We are very pleased with the reception the ‘Here’s To Beer’ campaign has received from our fellow brewers, as well as from the beer distributor and retailer communities,” Lachky – now executive vice president, Global Industry Development – said in the A-B press release. “Additionally, we’re encouraged by the consumer data such as today’s Gallup poll and this year’s ACNielsen global trend report that reinforce beer’s supremacy as a driver of food and beverage growth worldwide.”

Here’s to Beer will soon launch “The Beer Connoisseur” web site – an online beer university in which adults can enroll to learn about beer’s ingredients, brewing process, styles and the fundamentals of food-pairing.


More craft beer headed to China

The reception for U.S. craft beer has been so positive in China that the Brewers Association is sending more.

The BA first sent a “mixed container” in February. It contained beers from Brooklyn Brewery (New York), North Coast Brewing (California) and Rogue Ales (Oregon).

Another order was placed in May, including beers from two additional companies Kona Brewing Company (Hawaii) and Gordon Biersch Brewing (California).

Gordon Biersch president Dan Gordon said: “It really is remarkable that American craft beer is one of the few American consumer goods that are desired in China. Gordon Biersch is very excited to ship beer to China and I personally plan on working the market.”


Australian wineries woo ‘beer snobs’

New South Wales’s De Bortoli Wines, Victoria’s Otway Estate and Western Australia’s Woodsmoke Estate/Jarrah Jack’s partnership are all set to enter the beer brewing business.

University of Southern Queensland’s wine industry liaison Rob Learmonth said there is talk among the state’s wine tourism association about the growing market for boutique beers.

“At the cellar door, some people would prefer to have a beer than a wine,” Learmonth said.

Not everybody agrees the trend has legs, but meanwhile some interesting drinks might emerge.

Brewing expert at the University of Ballarat Peter Aldred said having brewers working alongside wine-makers would create some interesting flavors in their products.

“When you get brewers and wine-makers together there are definitely some interesting conversations,” Dr Aldred said.

Anyway, here’s how starts the story:

“A new breed of snooty beer drinkers is replacing chardonnay sippers in vineyards across the nation as wineries jump on the booming boutique beer bandwagon.”


Heineken puts Light in ‘slim can’

Heineken Slim CanFor the first day of summer (today), Heineken officially introduces a slim can for Heineken Premium Light.

Heineken began an advertising blitz this week with a full-page ad in USA Today, primetime TV advertising, Internet advertising, insertions in men’s publications and more. According to Brandweek, the on-premise campaign, themed “Mission Irresistible,” will feature samplers dressed as secret agents — complete with trench coats, hats and sunglasses.

The slimmer can was created by VBAT Brand Design, Amsterdam, and is designed to distinguish HLP from both Heineken Lager and domestic light beers. A company press release points out that nearly 60% of domestic light beers are sold in a can.

“The new 12-ounce slim can now offers Heineken Premium Light and domestic light beer drinkers the ability to enjoy its deliciously smooth taste on more occasions,” said Andy Glaser, director-Heineken Brand, Heineken USA. “Particularly in the summer months, beer drinkers look for ways to enjoy their favorite beverages in outdoor locations that may not allow glass packaging.”

A little over four years ago Oskar Blues in Lyons, Colo., started a mini-revolution among craft beers by packaging Dale’s Pale Ale in cans and selling craft beer places it previously was not available. Dozens of small brewers have since installed mini-canning lines.

Heineken is targeting a different drinker. The brewer said it must overcome the “Heineken Hurdle” — a perception among light beer drinkers who previously have tasted Heineken that HPL would be too robust for them.

Brandweek reports the company’s mission is sell 270,000 more barrels of Permium Light this year. HPL sold more than 570,000 barrels in 2006, the year it was introduced.


Smoking bans boosts Washington beer, food sales

What were the effects in the state of Washington of banning smoking in bars, restaurants and gambling establishments?

The Eugene Register-Guard reports that food and beer sales rose, but gambling income was down.

“The numbers suggest that bars and taverns may have lost some smokers but gained customers drawn to a smoke-free environment,” Revenue Department spokesman Mike Gowrylow said.


German beers sales up, but for how long?

German beer consumption was up in 2006, but brewers aren’t optimistic about the future.

Sales have been declining since 1995, and the increase – from 115 liters per resident in 2005 to 116 in 2006 – has been credited to the World Beer Cup (which won’t be around this year, next, etc.) Per capita beer consumption was in the 150-155 liter range in the mid 1980s.

“Ninety percent assume that in the coming five years they will decline or remain stagnant,” the accounting firm KPMG reported in a press release announcing the results of its survey.

The survey found that mixed-beer drinks and specialty beverages were growing in popularity, with breweries estimating that sales of drinks mixed with beer will increase by 6% in the next five years. Wheat beer and alcohol-free beer sales are also expected to rise.


Gluten-free Belgian beers US-bound

Green's beersU.S. importer Merchant du Vin will begin selling three gluten-free beers from U.K. brewing company Green’s Beers in July.

The beers should be available on the East Coast early in the month and on the West Coast later in July, but availability will likely vary by region.

Green’s sells gluten-free beers in a variety of styles in Europe. These three Belgian-inspired ales are brewed under contract at de Proef Brewery in Belgium. They are made with millet, rice, buckwheat and sorghum, and bottle-conditioned with a Belgian yeast strain. Green’s advertises its beers do not contain any of the following: gluten, barley, wheat, crustaceans, eggs, fish, peanuts, soybeans, milk, lactose, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame seeds, sulfur dioxide, nor sulfites.

The three beers are Discovery Amber (6% abv), Endeavour Dubbel (7% abv), Quest Tripel (8.5%).

According to government statistics, more than 2 million Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease. The genetic disorder causes stomach cramps and digestive problems and can lead to other serious health risks. People with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt. Those are the grains traditionally used to brew beer.


‘Old-fashioned’ beer fights image problem

Graphic warning: If you click over to read the following story you will see perhaps the grossest photo of a beer belly every published.

Market analyst Datamonitor forecasts beer consumption will continue to decrease in both Europe and the United States because of health concerns and image.

“Health concerns along with changing alcoholic drinks preferences are having an impact on consumers’ patterns of consumption,” said Matthew Adams, consumer markets analyst at Datamonitor.

The report also said beer is seen as old-fashioned: “The appeal of a beer belly is apparently diminishing for many consumers.”

Particularly the one the Morning Advertiser came up with to illustrate the story.


Selling craft beer in the heartland

– The Chicago Sun-Times reports on booming sales for Goose Island Brewing, up 60% this year. The reason is the deal the brewery struck less than a year ago with Widmer Brothers/Anheuser-Busch that put Goose Island beer in the hands of a large distribution force.

“We used to get a lot of calls — from Woodridge, Lake of the Hills — saying ‘I can’t find your beer,'” said brewmaster Greg Hall. “We don’t get as many of those calls anymore.”

– The St. Louis Post-Dispatch heads to Memphis on a beer selling trip with Dan Kopman of Saint Louis Brewery/Schlafly Beer (“We’re the other brewery in St. Louis”).

Schlafly is trying to carve out an identity by promoting its product as craft beer from America’s beer capital.

An interesting story about the challenges, including promoting beer in a market (Memphis) that so far has not been particularly craft friendly.