From the Belgian Shop newsletter:
Alken-Maes, owned by Scottish & Newcastle, announced the closure of its brewery in the town of Jumet, Le Soir newspaper said January 19. It will transfer its production from Jumet to its main site in Alken.
Less than two years ago S&N spent $6.5 million to increase production at Jumet.
The Brewers Association has hired Julia Herz as director of craft beer marketing. Herz replaces Ray Daniels, who remains with the Brewers Association as the director of Brewers Publications.
“Julia has a passion and a vision for craft beer,” Bob Pease, Brewers Association vice president, said in a press release. “We are excited to utilize Herz’s knowledge of the beer and wine industry coupled with her sales and PR experience to further the ever growing craft beer market.”
Most recently Herz was the vice president of Redstone Meadery in Boulder, Colo. She is also one of the founding members of the International Mead Association, organizer of the International Mead Festival.
Prior to working at Redstone Meadery, Herz served as the sales manager for the Brewers Association (known then as Association of Brewers) for three years.
Just so you know what the biggest brewing companies are thinking.
– Earlier this week we had Miller shelving its Man Laws commercials in favor of emphasizing the taste and heritage of Miller Lite. So you can expect to see more of the spots with Miller workers hanging banners show off Lite’s awards.
– Today the Wall Street Journal (paid subscription required) previews what to expect from Budweiser during the Super Bowl. “In the past couple of years, Bud has largely focused on ads promoting the quality of its brew, leaving the funny spots to its sibling brand, Bud Light, which is targeted at a younger audience,” the Journal reports, explainingg there will likely be a change, with lighter, funnier Bud spots as well.
Bob Lachky, executive vice president, global industry development, said “the humor of the two brands is different, reflecting their different target audiences. Budweiser, which targets a 28-plus, predominantly male and blue-collar crowd, uses humorous ads that aim to put a ‘smile’ on people’s faces, he adds. Bud Light, which targets the 21-to-27-year-old age group, uses a more slapstick or sophomoric approach.”
As previously announced, Guinness is testing its new new Guinness Red, using a lighter roasted barley for a ruby red colour and less bitter taste, in 142 British pubs.
The trial is expected to last three to nine months, and is one of a number of tests Guinness has and is conducting. Currently, Guinness mid-strength with an alcohol content of 2.8 percent is on trial in Irish pubs.
John Bebow, executive director of the Center for Michigan, a self-styled centrist think tank in Ann Arbor, says raising the beer tax should be an option to address the state’s looming budget deficit.
He suggests boosting the tax on a 12-ounce package 10 cents, a pretty sizable boost.
Does he have another agenda? Well he does say raising taxes on beer has the added benefit of helping “curb irresponsible behavior” by reducing consumption of alcohol.
Mike Lashbrook, president of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association, points out that Michigan’s excise tax on beer is already higher than many neighboring states, he said, and consumers still pay the 6% state sales tax on beer.
Keith O’Brien offers an explanation at Boston.com on why it makes a difference that Anheuser-Busch has brewed a gluten-free beer called Redbridge.
“I think it is the tipping point for people suffering from celiac disease, diagnosed and undiagnosed,” said Alice Bast, executive director of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. “The fact that Anheuser-Busch has taken such an interest, a lot of food companies – major food companies – are going to get into the marketplace. And maybe even some beer companies will get into the marketplace to compete against them.”
Several other breweries also brew beer that is gluten free, including St. Louis Brewery, producer of Schlafly beers. The brewery sells it only in its Bottleworks brewery-restaurant.
“We’re very founded on our local market,” said Schlafy vice president Dan Kopman. The brewery has strong ties to the local Slow Food movement, participating in events at both restaurants as well as elsewhere. Bottleworks also hosts a weekly growers market in season.
“We’ve had demand from local celiacs, and that’s why were doing this,” Kopman said. “I don’t see this as an area for small brewery to expand, to build our core business around sorghum beer.
“We are appealing to a segment of the population that wants to eat out and drink out and wants it to be gluten free.”
Nothing wrong with that.
Investors Business Daily has more on Bud.TV:
Anheuser-Busch will spend $40 million on Internet marketing in 2007, analysts say. That’s about 10% of its overall media budget. A big chunk of that will go toward Bud.TV.com, analysts speculate. Anheuser-Busch wouldn’t say what it’s spending on Bud.TV.
And the content?
Bud.TV.com will feature mainly two- to five-minute “Webisodes.” Anheuser-Busch plans to draw upon its many sponsorship and marketing relationships. Ponturo says Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be featured in some video clips.
The beer maker also plans to partner for content with men’s magazine Maxim and New York’s Tribeca Film Festival.
In Chicago, Anheuser-Busch has filmed short Webisodes called “What Girls Want,” which critique pickup lines men use at a bar. Another vignette features a chimp acting as a used-car salesman.
Where does beer fit in?
Coors, which distributes Dutch-brewed Grolsch, in the UK is rolling out Grolsch Weizen in London and plans to take it national later this year.
The Morning Advertiser reports:
Unlike InBev’s Hoegaarden, which hails from Belgium and leads the white beer market, Grolsch Weizen is a German-style wheat beer, which the brewer hopes will give it a point of difference.
Might we end up seeing this beer in the United States as well?
England Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) – a consumer advocacy group – has mounted a campaign against cheap beer prices, pointing out some supermarkets are selling beer for little more than water.
CAMRA, members of parliament, trade press and pub industry chiefs are calling for urgent action to prevent promotions that serve to exacerbate the problem of binge drinking.
Legistlations would “call on supermarkets and off licences to curb irresponsible alcohol price promotions and stop using alcohol as a loss leader.”
Beer prices may soon rise for consumers because of the increasing costs of barley and other raw materials.
The Associated Press story focuses on larger breweries, since they sell most of the beer.
“Raw material costs have gone up so much in such a short period of time, it’s unavoidable that you will see some price increases eventually,” said Morningstar analyst Matthew Reilly.
One of the culprits is barley. The story reports on North American production, but barley/malt prices have also been ramping up in Europe after a tough growing year. That means that even craft breweries that use continental malts also face higher prices.
Meanwhile, input from one craft brewery owner:
The situation may improve later in the year – a prospect smaller breweries are counting on to help with costs. Mark Stutrud, president and founder of Summit Brewery in St. Paul, Minn., said he’s hoping prices fall somewhat in July and August.
“If there’s an increase in the amount that cultivated, that would be good news,” Stutrud said.
Summit Brewery is the third largest brewery in Minnesota and makes more than 60,000 barrels of beer a year, including an extra pale ale popular in the Twin Cities area. Its beers are available from distributors in 13 states in the Midwest and Great Plains.
Stutrud has had to increase costs modestly each year since early 2000 to keep up with price increases and inflation.
The Washington Post reports the long-expected sale of Old Dominion Brewing could be announced any time.
Sale would involve Ram’s Head Tavern, a Maryland brewery chain, and beer giant Anheuser-Busch.
“We have signed a letter of intent with someone, but we are not confirming or denying any of the other stuff,” said founder Jerry Bailey, adding that he was selling the company in order to liquidate his equity.
The Seattle Times reports that Redhook Ale Brewery and Widmer Brother Brewing plan to start merger talks.
The Times’ story points out why this makes sense: “Redhook brews Widmer beer on the East Coast, and they share a sales and marketing operation in the West. More than a third of each company is owned by megabrewer Anheuser-Busch of St. Louis.”
Interestingly, the possible merger was revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by Anheuser-Busch on Wednesday. The Anheuser-Busch filing says it anticipates Redhook would be “the surviving company in any transaction” with Widmer.
Redhook and Widmer considered a merger in 1996, Redhook founder Paul Shipman says in the story, but it “didn’t come together.”
“If you name breweries around the Pacific Northwest,” he says, “it wouldn’t take long before you named one that we had discussions with along the way.”
The following information was posted at WineBusiness.com:
New findings presented by the Wine Market Council during a trade event in New York City last week indicate that a whopping 14 percent of all wine consumers are drinking either less beer and less spirits (or both) but at the same time are drinking more wine.
Curiously, the research indicates that these are largely younger consumers. The conventional wisdom has been that older consumers eventually cut down on beer and spirits consumption while drinking more wine. Fifty-two percent of the “trade-off” consumers making the switch are under 42 years old, as they are either part of the Gen X or Millennial generations, according to the data.
The information was obtained by surveying wine consumers, and WineBusiness.com bills itself as “The Home Page for the Winde Industry” so keeps those things in mind. And remember that when they write beer they mean all beer, not craft beer.
Consider this scenario:
”Frat guys, 2021: Dude, it was so weird. My frat brother John had his wacky uncle Russ in town, and he came to our Alpha Alpha October bash. Old dude, in his 40s, but still likes to party. He actually brought an entire keg of beer to the party. Who was going to get through that? I think we all had one or two, but it doesn’t mix well with vodka, so there was a ton left over. You know anybody who still drinks this stuff?”
Futurist Eric Garland offers this in the book ”Future Inc.: How Businesses Can Anticipate and Profit From What’s Next.”
The book isn’t really about beer, but Garland uses beer often to illustrate points. The same method that he uses to forecast the future of beer, he writes, can be applied in all other spheres. The crucial element of that kind of ”futuring,” Garland writes, is thinking of everything within the context of society, technology, economics, ecology and politics.
What he writes about beer – that it continues to lose ground to wine and spirits – is hardly news. However he does see globalization as the hope for the future of American brewers.
”I have heard of Americans visiting Ireland expecting to see everyone drinking pints of Guinness, and instead shocked to see people in dance clubs pounding Budweiser and Bud Lights,” he writes.
Fortune Small Business takes a trip to Colorado and writer Christopher S. Stewart writes about “Small breweries, big beer” – giving attention to assertive beers from Great Divide, Oskar Blues and Avery.
He finishes with a sample of Avery’s The Beast (14.9% abv):
“At first there are outward signs of normalcy – the dark color, the unctuous texture and the fizzle when it’s poured into a glass. But when the smell of molasses gets in your nose, and the first thick drop hits the tongue, and you taste the myriad dark fruits and this buzz goes on in your head, it’s just not normal. But I like it. I think.”