Big Brands Continue To Slide

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For the last several years, sales of some of the major beer brands have been slipping, and not just the sub-premiums or secondary packages but even once mighty flagships. 24/7 Wall Street has a new list of some of these brands, characterized as Beers Americans No Longer Drink. Using data from Beer Marketer’s Insights, here are seven brands that have lost significant sales, at least 20%, between 2013 and 2008. The negative number following the name is how much sales are down in that six-year period.

  • Miller High Life -21.2%
  • Budweiser -27.6%
  • Milwaukee’s Best Light -40.6%
  • Milwaukee’s Best -57.0%
  • Miller Genuine Draft -58.3%
  • Budweiser Select -61.1%

Some additional analysis and reasons for the decline, according to 24/7 Wall St:

Another key factor in the weakening sales has been price dynamics. “Beer prices were increased more aggressively over the last five years than wine and spirits,” Shepard said. Many people in the industry believe that, as a result, some customers replaced buying beer with the now relatively less expensive wines and spirits, he explained.

Several other products were also gaining at the expense of big brand-name beers, Shepard noted. While some customers have been moving to wine and spirits, others were switching to imported beer, particularly Mexican imports. Indeed, in the five years through 2013, shipments of Mexican brands Dos Equis and Modelo Especial more-than doubled. Similarly, he added, “Some [drinkers] are moving to craft [beer]. Clearly, there’s been a trade-up in the industry.”

Craft beers have largely bucked the overall downtrend in beer sales. From 2008 to 2013, shipments of craft beer rose by 80.1% to a total of more than 16 million barrels, or 7.6% of the U.S. beer market. While the craft beer category now outsells Budweiser, it remains a relatively niche market. For comparison, the nation’s top-selling brand, Bud Light, shipped 38 million barrels in 2013, accounting for 18% of all beer shipped.

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Where America Got Its Booze

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Here’s a fun article I stumbled upon that appeared in Popular Science. “Where America Gets Its Booze” was a feature story in their May 1930 issue.

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“Where America Gets Its Booze” is an interview with America’s “Prohibition Commissioner,” Dr. James M. Doran, who was a chemist. And boy, doesn’t he look like a fun guy in that photo. According to a Time magazine article from the year before, even his wife was trying to help, as “she marshaled a platoon of reinforcements in the form of recipes for nonalcoholic cocktails. She had prepared a Book of Juices to meet the onslaught of the ‘winter social season just ahead.’ She announced a few of her recipes in advance. Explained Mrs. Doran: ‘Prohibition took something away from the American people, but we can give them something just as good—a cocktail that satisfies but does not inebriate.'” Well, that should do it.

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Craft: New Documentary About California Breweries

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This looks interesting. Jeff Smith and Fran Ellsworth are directing and producing a new documentary film about California breweries entitled “Craft: The California Beer Documentary.” They recently released their first trailer, which you can watch below. All I know at this point is from a short description of their project. “A road trip throughout California, learning from the master brewers of the state. It’ll also feature interviews with beer enthusiasts and home-brewers.”

CCBA 25th Anniversary Round-Up Video

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Early last month, the California Craft Brewers Association celebrated its 25th anniversary with a two-day conference in Santa Rosa. I gave a talk on the history of craft beer in the Golden State, and there many other seminars, including a wonderful panel discussion with three craft beer pioneers, John Martin (Triple Rock), Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada) and Fritz Maytag (Anchor), moderated by Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River). The Film Squad created a fun video showing an overview of the conference.

Did You Hear That? Only 2 Months Until SF Beer Week

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Remember hearing the music of the ice cream truck, and running outside to meet it so you didn’t miss out on getting a popsicle, or whatever your favorite frozen treat was? Well, it’s about two months until the kickoff of SF Beer Week, and they’ve created a hilarious teaser video, reimagining the ice cream truck, or in this case beer truck, as the clarion call for beer week. Enjoy.

Craft Beer Soccer Sponsorship Fantasies

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Given that many of the regional breweries continue to grow by leaps and bounds, it’s only a matter of time before they start considering some of the same types of sponsorships that in the past were usually reserved for the really big beer companies. But they certainly couldn’t afford baseball, football or even basketball prices. But what about soccer (football)? Backheel, a website and podcast devoted to American Soccer, wondered what MLS jerseys might look like if they were sponsored by local breweries. More than wondered really, as author Trevor Hayward worked with graphic designer Edward Gaug and Dan Wiersema, of the Free Beer Movement, and they created a mythical league where all the teams are sponsored by breweries, proudly displaying their logos on the jerseys. The entire project can be seen at Major League Soccer x Craft Beer Jerseys. Below are few of my favorites, but check out all of them either on Backheel or in a slideshow at Imgur.

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The San Jose Earthquakes, sponsored by Lagunitas.

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The Seattle Sounders FC, sponsored by Elysian.

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The LA Galaxy, sponsored by the Bruery.

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The Portland Timbers, sponsored by Hair of the Dog.

But that’s not quite the end of the story. SB Nation’s Center Line Soccer (part of a group of 307 sports blogs) took it one step father, wondering if Petaluma-based Lagunitas was the best choice for the Quakes, who after all are in San Jose, quite some distance from Sonoma County. While they’re both in the Bay Area, it’s roughly a one-and-a-half to two hour drive between the two, depending on the always unpredictable traffic. So they imagined a few other choices for the Earthquakes. Again, here’s a few of my faves, and you can see all of them at What craft brewery would you like to see on the San Jose Earthquakes jersey?

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The San Jose Earthquakes, sponsored by Russian River Brewing.

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The San Jose Earthquakes, sponsored by 21st Amendment Restaurant & Brewery.

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The San Jose Earthquakes, sponsored by Drake’s Brewing.

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The San Jose Earthquakes, sponsored by Bear Republic Brewing.

Beer Birthday: Christian DeBenedetti

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Today is the 41st birthday of fellow beer writer and aspiring brewery owner Christian DeBenedetti. In 2011, he wrote The Great American Ale Trail and you can check out a lot of his other work online. His latest project is building a brewery on his family’s property, Springbrook Farm, to be called the Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery. In fact, through CrowdBrewed, the dedicated beer crowd funding site, he’s in the process of raising funds to finish building the brewery, the majority of which is already in place. He’s getting close to reaching the necessary amount, around 80% there, with just one day to go. So perhaps everyone can give Christian an early birthday gift today so he can get the brewery finished and the beer flowing. There are all sorts of levels for donations and you can read all about the project and what the funds will be used for at CrowdBrewed. Join me in wishing Christian a very happy birthday.

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Christian with Stephen Beaumont at the Denver Rare Beer Tasting in 2013.

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With Vinnie Cilurzo in the barrel room during a visit to Russian River Brewing.

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With Charlie Papazian at GABF.

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With Jim Koch at Ale House at Amato’s for the book release party for the Great American Ale Trail, during GABF in 2011.

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In front of the brewhouse at Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery, his brewery under construction.

Craft Beer By State

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The Brewers Association released in an interactive infographic of sorts, showing State Craft Beer Sales & Production Statistics for 2013. Below is California, but there’s a similar chart for each state, with their respective numbers and rankings in a variety of categories. You can also follow links to find breweries within each state, along with specific state laws regarding beer and alcohol.

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Brewing: Love & Talent With Peter Bouckaert

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You’re probably familiar with Ted Talks, but there’s also independently organized Ted events, known as TEDx. Recently Peter Bouckaert, the brewmaster at New Belgium Brewing gave one at TEDxCSU, the Fort Collins extension of the talks. In the talk, “[h]e explains his personal journey of challenging limitations to “brew” together a life of creativity,” and the YouTube page describes Peter as having “made a career through utilizing innovation and working outside the box.”

A Belgian native, he is a Biochemistry engineer, with a specialization in Brewing and Fermentation technology from the University of Ghent, Belgium. Before joining New Belgium in 1996, and moving to the US, he worked in the Belgian brewery world in breweries with difficult to pronounce names like Zulte and the world renowned Rodenbach. He was the 2013 winner of the Russell Schehrer award for innovation in Brewing.

It’s only a little longer than fifteen minutes. I only wish it was longer. Enjoy.

Top 10 Beer Brands Worldwide 2014

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Last year, I posted a list of The World’s Top 10 Beer Brands . That list, from Drinks Business, was for sales as of the end of 2012. Earlier today, the Wall Street Journal tweeted a chart showing a newer list of the top ten, from Euromonitor International. Their data was accompanying a story, SABMiller Considers Best Route to a Global Beer Brand, though I couldn’t see the context, since only WSJ subscribers could see the entire article. No matter, I was keen to see if this year’s numbers were similar, as you’d expect, from last year, even though the source of the information is slightly different.

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It’s pretty close to last year’s list. The top two, both Chinese brands, remain unchanged. But Bud Light has jumped up from #5 to claim the third spot, while Bud slipped down one to #4. Yanjing Beer, which was #4 on last year’s chart, slipped to #6, while Brazil’s Skol shimmied up from seventh to #5. Heineken moved up one to #7, while another Chinese brand (owned by ABI) — Harbin — is at #8, but was not on last year’s list. Finally, Brahma and Coors Light switched placed at the bottom of the list. Last year, Coors Light was #9, this year it’s Brahma. Corona was #6 on last year’s chart, but is not on the list at all this year.