A Landscape View Of Beer For The Next Session

session-the
For 102nd Session, our host will be Allen Huerta, who writes Active Brewer. For his topic, he’s asking us to look at the big picture, the entire landscape of beer; yesterday, today, and/or tomorrow, or as he more fully explains what he has in mind for the August Session in his announcement, “The Landscape of Beer:”

SURPRISE, SURPRISE! The Landscape of Beer in America is changing. It has even begun influencing beer in countries all around the world. Everyone has their opinion on Local vs Global, Craft vs Macro, and Love vs Business. Those who were at the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference in Asheville this past weekend had a brief talk about how “Small and Independent Matters”. Something that quite a few people say matters to them, but where is the upper limit? Does a purchase of another brewery still allow a brewery to fall into the Small and Independent camp?

Our topic this month is, “The Landscape of Beer“. How do you see that landscape now? What about in 5, 10, or even 20 years? A current goal in the American Craft Beer Industry is 20% market share by the year 2020. How can we get there? Can we get there?

Whether your view is realistic or whimsical, what do you see in our future? Is it something you want or something that is happening? Let us know and maybe we can help paint the future together.

tigercr_barley_landscape

So start painting your thoughts in broad strokes, and give us your take on the beer landscape. To participate in the July Session, leave a comment to the original announcement, on or before Friday, August 7.

beerlandscape-view

Duvel Invests In Firestone Walker

duvel firestone-walker-long-cask
Earlier today Firestone Walker Brewing — in a carefully worded press release — announced that Duvel Moortgat and Firestone Walker “will combine their two companies in the USA.”

Here’s they said it on their website, at Firestone Walker news:

FW-Announcement_Letter

And this was the press release sent out:

July 16, 2015 – Kansas City, Mo., & Paso Robles, Ca. – In an agreement signed earlier this week, Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Duvel Moortgat will combine their two companies in the USA. The California brewery will continue to operate independently in Paso Robles under its current leadership of David Walker and Adam Firestone.

David Walker and Adam Firestone, joint founders of Firestone Walker said: “The Firestone Walker and Duvel Moortgat families have combined forces to broaden their capacity and scope as brewers. Long admirers of each other’s beers, culture and breweries, the two teams saw the perfect fit for an alliance. The partnership will allow Firestone Walker to develop our capacity across the US in a conservative and thoughtful way by consummating a life long tie with this family-owned international craft brewer, who continue their commitment to participating in the American Craft Revolution.”

“The relationship I have built with David and Adam made Firestone Walker the perfect fit for future growth,” said Michel Moortgat, CEO of Duvel Moortgat. “We share the same values; have a great mutual respect for each other’s achievements and a deeply-held belief in exceptional quality as a platform for long-term success. Bringing Firestone Walker together with Boulevard, Ommegang, Duvel and the other craft breweries in our family creates a stronger platform in the USA for us both and allows us to collaborate on brewing in different locations across the USA”

“The most important thing that we can do for Firestone Walker is to help David and Adam manage the exponential growth that their team and their brewery is experiencing right now by providing financial and production capacity to support them,” said Simon Thorpe, President of Duvel Moortgat USA. “We are not integrating our organizations. Both Boulevard and Ommegang are also enjoying tremendous success and we still have much to do in realizing our dream for both these breweries.”

The transaction between Duvel Moortgat and Firestone Walker is expected to close later this year. It is an agreement between two private, family-owned companies, so no financial or contractual details will be disclosed.

It will be interesting to see how this is the same or different from the deal Duvel did with Boulevard Brewing almost two years ago, from which Boulevard seems to have emerged unscathed and doing well, both in terms of quality and public perception. At this point, it appears it may be similar, with very little changing in terms of day to day operations of the brewery and with all the key people remaining in place.

FWB_Primary_Logo_2COLOR

Nielsen Beer Numbers Show Where Growth Is Happening

sales-chart-up
Earlier today, Bart Watson, the BA’s economist, tweeted a chart from Nielsen entitled “Craft Beer is a Staple Out West and Growing Across the Country.” The chart is from a new report released yesterday, called Tapped In: Craft and Local Are Powerful Trends in the Beer Aisle. It shows three columns of data, including dollar share, percentage change of dollar volume versus last year and changes in dollar share versus last year. This is for “craft beer,” which Nieslen defines slightly differently than the BA, if memory serves.

craft-table-2

The top five markets for share of craft beer are on the west coast, three of them in California: San Diego, San Francisco and Sacramento. The bottom five are all midwest and east coast, though only Washington DC is a particularly large market, with the other four being somewhat smaller. The top five each represents market in which craft enjoys roughly one-third of all beer sales, which is amazing to me given where we were just ten or twenty years ago.

In terms of change, Birmingham, Alabama is the surprise winner with an astonishing 63.1% growth in volume over last year. Although equally surprising is San Diego who despite being the third largest market for craft, also grew 22.5% more on a large base, and was the fourth highest in volume growth.

Of the categories Nielsen tracks, cider is the one most on fire, with volume up 43.2%. Next is craft beer with 10.2%, tied with Mexican beer, although craft has the edge in percentage change in value, though I’m not entirely sure how that’s calculated. Super Premium, Premium, and Sub Premium are all trending down, with negative numbers, though not by much. Sub Premium is losing the most ground, down 3.5% by volume.

In addition, Nieksen surveyed beer drinkers about how much they care about their beer being local.

Newswire template

If you’re unfamiliar with Nielsen, they track sales data in primarily larger, chain outlets like groceries, convenience stores, liquor and drug chains, etc. as opposed to beer stores and more independent or unique sales avenues. But because they’ve been collecting consistent data for a number of years, their information is usually pretty reliable and a decent snapshot of what’s going on across the country. Here’s some more of their analysis regarding where people are buying beer.

At the end of June 2015, craft beer accounted for 11.9% of the total dollar volume of the beer category in the U.S. It’s worth noting, however, that craft’s market share varies significantly by channel. For example, it has a much larger share in the grocery channel (20.1%) than the convenience (4.6%) and drug (8.7%) store channels, largely because grocery stores have significantly more floor space available, which allows for greater assortment and options for consumers. That said, however, the convenience channel holds the title for being the leader for overall beer sales, and craft is making a strong run there, growing at a faster pace in the convenience channel (+21.4%) than in grocery stores (+13.7%) for the 52 weeks ending June 20, 2015.

AB-InBev Buys Pioneering Brazilian Brewery

colorado-brazil
Cervejaria Colorado was one of Brazil’s first small breweries when it opened in 1995. I met founder Marcello Carneiro in Argentina when I was there for beer judging in 2011. He’s one of the most fun-loving people I’ve ever met and I’ve since seen him in Brazil and also stateside a few times. He announced earlier today on Facebook that AmBev would be acquiring his brewery. Here’s the Google translation of the announcement:

Dear friends of the bear, we are very happy to formalize you that now the Colorado it becomes part of the group Ambev, along the breweries beer! In 1995, our founder, Marcelo Carneiro, started his journey in the country and put the breweries Colorado on the international market, solidifying a company that today bill around $18 million per year. 20 years ago we work with dignity and fight for the cause brewery, we gain strength and tread a path of large awards, authenticity and it will now be even better! We will continue to develop Brazilian genuinely revenue, our DNA. The Union of the brands will make it possible to increase the capacity of distribution of Colorado and, of course, to our dear Marcelo to devote even more to research of ingredients. Our commitment to the lovers of good beer is still strong and the dream that unites the two pubs is the recovery of the Brazilian beer, with ingredients Brazilians and produced for consumers from north to south of the country. Unite is to make this dream a reality, the dream of the Brazilian school of beer! A toast and hug from bear.

AmBev, you may recall, is the Companhia de Bebidas das Américas, a Brazilian brewing company, and the largest in Latin America and 5th worldwide. It was established by a merger of Brahma and Antarctica in 1999. After more business dealings, mergers and acquisitions, today is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev. AmBev makes Antarctica, Brahma, Bohemia, and Skol, and in addition has a controlling interest in the popular Argentine brand Quilmes.

AmBev also released a statement, which I’ve used Google Translate to make more understandable as my Portuguese is worthless:

COLORADO NOW IS THE TIME OF THE BREWERY BOHEMIA

Breweries unite the passion for beer and the search for innovation

The dream of creating a Brazilian school of beer, based on the valuation of culture and national ingredients, joined our Brewery Bohemia Brewery and Colorado. The mark of São Paulo is now part of our team, bringing their tradition, quality, passion and daring.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to achieve my dream with Cervejaria Bohemia. When I founded the Colorado 20 years ago, always wanted to give a national touch to recipes and create a Brazilian school of beer, as there is the German and Belgian. I know that together we will make it happen, “says Marcelo Cerneiro, founder of Colorado.

Wakswaser Daniel, director of marketing for Cervejaria Bohemia, also celebrates the partnership: “It’s a time of celebration for the Brazilian culture. Our union allows further spread the knowledge brewing across the country. Consumers will have more choices, varied beers, unusual income and undisputed quality. ”

The Colorado follows with manufacturing in Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo. All labels will be maintained and the union with Bohemia Brewery will bring innovation to the portfolio. With the alliance, the distribution of power increases, enabling the brand to bring more beer enthusiasts throughout Brazil.

So it appears that the acquisition will merge Colorado with AmBev’s premium division headed by Cervejaria Bohemia, just as Wäls did in February, when AmBev bought them, as well. Also, in May, they acquired the Bogotá Beer Co., which is/was Colombia’s largest craft brewer.” So it appears there’s some long term plan for Latin America, just as we’re seeing here in the United States, too.

Marcelo’s also announced what his role will be going forward. “My job is international consultant, for a minimum of five years. My task will be to open new roads for Colorado, talk to business partners, represent the brand that I fought for 20 years. My fight has always been and will continue to facilitate the consolidation of a typically Brazilian brewing school, and it will never be abandoned.”

P1040880
Bia Amorim, me and Marcello after a beer dinner in São Paulo in 2011.

Jeremy Warren Leaving Knee Deep

knee-deep
Knee Deep Brewing Co. founder Jeremy Warren announced earlier today via Facebook that effective August 3 he’ll be leaving the brewery he started five years ago. Here’s what he’s saying so far:

The past 5 years has been a great ride with Knee Deep Brewing. From my half bbl home brew in my garage to 11,000 bbl in an 18,000 sq. ft. warehouse! I want to thank each and every one of you for your support and encouragement.

Your constant kind words and criticism keeps us Brewers on our toes in making the best beer possible.

With that said, it is with a bittersweet feeling that I’m announcing my separation from Knee Deep Brewing effective August 3rd.

Don’t freak out! I will be announcing my new project soon!

I will not disappoint!!

So it sounds like he’s already cooked another project and will leave Knee Deep intact, which is great. Join me in wishing him well on his next adventure.

UPDATE: The Sacramento Beer published a follow-up yesterday about Jeremy’s resignation that includes speculation that he’ll be opening his own brewery, which naturally is what we’re all thinking. But co-founder Jerry Moore, who’s also apparently the majority owner of Knee Deep, states “he was not surprised by Warren’s decision and he insisted that Knee Deep will not skip a beat.” He then adds this:

“Knee Deep owns those recipes and I own Knee Deep,” said Moore, noting that Warren has been a minority owner. “Knee Deep will continue to make all of the beers we’ve been making. We have four full-time brewers who have been making these beers.”

I don’t want to read too much into that statement, especially since I don’t know Jerry Moore, but it’s hard not to see it as inferring an issue or issues that led to Warren’s departure.

jeremy-warren
Jeremy Warren from a recent article in Sacramento Magazine.

Lagunitas Announces Third Brewery

lagunitas-circle
I’ve been traveling most of this week, so I missed the announcement Wednesday by owner Tony Magee when he unveiled plans for a third brewery on Twitter. When I interviewed him for a profile piece in in Beer Connoisseur magazine in 2012, he was already thinking about a third location after Chicago was up and running, but at that time was leaning toward New Orleans. But it turns out the new brewery will be in Southern California in the town of Azusa, which is in the San Gabriel Valley and is part of Los Angeles County, about 25 miles east of the city of L.A. This third brewery is a whopping 178,000-square feet and will reportedly have “an initial capacity of 420,000 barrels” which can be raised to one million barrels over time. By contrast, Chicago, when completely finished, will be able to brew 1.2 million barrels a year, and when an expansion in Petaluma is done, they’ll go from a capacity of 450,000-bbl to 750,000-bbl.

Lagunitas-Azusa
Tony teased out the new space on Twitter with this blueprint.

It’s location is also “spittin’ distance” from the Miller facility in Irwindale. Construction has apparently already begun and is expected to open by early 2017. The decision was prompted by nearing capacity in Petaluma, which is expected to be at 85% in about 18 months. Magee said the L.A. space will be “similar in scale and operation to their Chicago brewery,” so that’s pretty promising. If it’s anything like the Chicago brewery, which I just visited Monday, it will be spectacular.

UPDATE: Lagunitas posted some photos of the ongoing construction which has already begun in Azusa.

Azusa_Lag3_1

Azusa_Lag3_2

Azusa_Lag3_3

Azusa_Lag3_4

First Time Craft Beer Drinker’s Slow-Motion Reactions

sour-face bitter-face
This reminds me quite a lot of those BuzzFeed videos my wife and kids are always showing me of people trying different national or ethnic foods for the first time, although this one is showing the reactions of various people trying different styles of beer for the first time. Each person is shown naked (or at least as far down as we can see) and we’re also shown the style they’re trying and then their reaction is shown in slow-motion. It was created by Bierdeluxe, a German online beer store. From a main page of craft beer, there’s a picture of each person representing the broad styles from the video, which has as its title “If you’ve never tasted Craft Beer, then you’ve never tasted Beer!,” and clicking on each takes you to a page where the beers they have for sale in that style are displayed for purchase. It’s an oddly effective way to shop, if a little weird on several levels, but it’s also kind of funny, displaying that German knack for knowing what’s funny and/or odd but still not being able to work out which one it really is in the end.

Cancer Charities Grow Cancerous

ribbon-pink
One of the byproducts of keeping a close watch on prohibitionist groups and other so-called non-profit organizations is that I’ve become quite jaded not just about those particular ones, but about the charitable industrial complex in general. It’s really become big business and, in my opinion, most have strayed very far from the (hopefully) good intentions that spawned them. Longtime readers will recognize this thread, that many of the charities and organizations that choose to attack the beer community from the high moral ground, are themselves often in no position to take such a lofty nose-in-the-air position.

In recent years, several cancer charities have criticized the alcohol industry for our fundraising efforts while hypocritically working with KFC and other unhealthily partners, as I detailed a few years ago with Biting the Hand That Feeds You. Between several of these cancer charities, and the usual prohibitionists, people who work in the alcohol field who want to do good and raise money for a cause that’s dear to them are routinely insulted and criticized for doing so. But taking a closer look at the charities themselves, as I started doing a few years ago, it’s not always clear how much actual good they’re really doing.

Just how many charities are there? In the U.S. alone there are a staggering 1.5 million non-profit organizations, the vast majority of them characterized as public charities. That’s essentially one charity organization for every 213 people in America. Of those, I don’t know how many are involved with cancer, but you can bet it’s a lot. In a partnership between the Tampa Bay Times, the California-based Center for Investigative Reporting, and CNN (who joined the partnership in 2013), they examined all of the charities and created a list of America’s 50 Worst Charities. Of the top ten, the second worst charity in the U.S. is a cancer one, the Cancer Fund of America. In fact, fully four of the top ten are cancer charities. In the full list of the top 48 worst charities, ten of them involve cancer. A surprising number of them are also about missing children, veterans and police and fire fighting groups, sad to say.

cancer-cells

But what prompted this was a report on Mashable I saw recently entitled Cancer charities allegedly misused $187 million for concerts and dating sites, U.S. says. Apparently, “Law enforcement from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, along with the Federal Trade Commission” charged four of them — Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society — “with taking money that donors had given to help cancer patients and using it to on themselves as well as their families and friends,” in an amount in excess of $187 million. The money was used “to buy cars, trips, luxury cruises, college tuition, gym memberships, jet ski outings, sporting event and concert tickets, and dating site memberships,” and even for providing lucrative jobs to friends and family. Two of the charities, Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society, will be shut down. I don’t know why the other two would continue.

The Washington Post also detailed the story, and also published their 5 reasons why it took the feds so long to catch on to the cancer charities scam.

I find it incredibly sad that the state of charities has become so deplorable. It’s to the point where you don’t know whether you can even trust someone soliciting donations, no matter how worthy the cause might sound. The odds are becoming increasingly likely that it may very well be a scam. And undoubtedly that hurts however many charities remain that are actually staying true to their purpose, because at least in my case I’m not giving to anybody until I’ve had a chance to look into the charity asking for my donation. And without the time to adequately do that most times, my default position is a blanket no. So I think the state of the charitable industrial complex has itself become a cancer of sorts, eating itself. With trust in non-profits understandably plummeting, what will that mean for the good work of the few? The sham charities are harming not only the people they bilk out of their cash and savings, but making many others, I have to assume, reluctant to donate to any charity without first knowing more about them. There must be a special circle of hell reserved for these people, praying on people’s better natures with their own worst.

sham-cancer-charities

Beer Excise Taxes By State 2015

tax
Back in 2009, I wrote a post about Beer Excise Taxes By State, based on data from by the Tax Foundation, and they also created a nice map of the 50 states with the individual beer excise tax brewers in each state has to pay in addition to the federal excise taxes, too.

They’ve now updated that map with more recent tax rates as of January 1, 2015. As they note, “[t]ax treatment of beer varies widely across the U.S., ranging from a low of $0.02 per gallon in Wyoming to a high of $1.29 per gallon in Tennessee.” They also acknowledge that “taxes are the single most expensive ingredient in beer, costing more than labor and raw materials combined,” citing an economic analysis that found “if all the taxes levied on the production, distribution, and retailing of beer are added up, they amount to more than 40% of the retail price.”

Beer-Excise-Tax-Rates-2015

The Top 20 Most Popular Beers Sold In America

usa
Despite being primarily a wine site, Vinepair often has some interesting beer content. A few months ago, they created a chart of The 20 Most Popular Beers in America. The rankings are based on IRI data from 2013, which is a little odd since more recent figures are undoubtedly available. But in the top sellers, they don’t change all that often so it’s likely still reasonably accurate.
top-20-beers-in-america-2015
In the “Details” below, the twenty beers are listed with a number of pieces of other interesting data, including the number of cases, price per case and their Beer Advocate score.
top-20-beers-in-america-2015-details