Craft Beer Continues To Grow

ba
Craft brewers enjoyed continued growth through the first half of 2014, according to new mid-year data recently released by the Brewers Association, the trade group representing smaller brewers. Craft beer production increased 18 percent by volume during the first half of the year (though the new numbers are based on the revised definition of who is a craft brewer as per the BA, while last year’s numbers were compiled under the old definition). From the press release:

From January through the end of June, around 10.6 million barrels of beer were sold, up from 9.0 million barrels over the first half of 2013. “The sustained double-digit growth of the craft category shows the solidity of demand for fuller flavored beer in a variety of styles from small and independent American producers,” said Bart Watson, chief economist for the BA. “Craft brewers are providing world-class, innovative products that continue to excite beer lovers and energize the industry.”

Print

As of June 30, 2014, 3,040 breweries were operating in the U.S., 99 percent of which were small and independent craft breweries. Additionally, there were 1,929 breweries in planning. Craft brewers currently employ an estimated 110,273 full-time and part-time workers, many of which are manufacturing jobs, contributing significantly to the U.S. economy.

Print

Anchor Cans California Lager

anchor-new
Anchor Brewing announced yesterday that they’ll be releasing their popular California Lager in cans as a part of ” two unique partnerships,” in which “a portion of proceeds from Anchor California Lager sales will support the National Parks Conservation Association and the California State Parks Foundation.” Putting the beer in cans, they believe, will “offer greater convenience and versatility for outdoor activities.”

From the press release:

“Parks are one of our most precious resources that everyone from coast-to-coast can enjoy,” said Keith Greggor, CEO of Anchor Brewing Company. “Anchor California Lager already has tremendous success supporting parks in our home state and we look forward to supporting the National Parks Conversation Association’s work protecting our national parks.”

Anchor-Cal-Lager-Can

Anchor’s history, California’s first genuine lager, and our country’s state parks were born in the second half of the 19th Century. Today, California is home to 280 state parks and 26 of America’s 401 national parks. To celebrate that unique heritage, Anchor Brewing Company has partnered with the National Parks Conservation Association and the California State Parks Foundation to support their efforts to conserve and enrich the natural beauty and history of parks nationwide.

And here’s the background info on the beer:

Anchor Brewing Company’s roots go back to the Gold Rush, long before icehouses and modern refrigeration made traditional lagers a viable option. In 1876—thanks to an ice pond in the mountains and a belief that anything is possible in the Golden State—a little brewery named Boca created California’s first genuine lager. Anchor California Lager is a re-creation of this historic beer.

Crisp, clean, and refreshing, its rich golden color, distinctive aroma, lingering creamy head, balanced depth of flavor, and incredibly smooth finish are like no other lager today. Made in San Francisco with two-row California barley, Cluster hops (the premier hop in 19th-century California), and Anchor’s own lager yeast, Anchor California Lager is kräusened and lagered in the cellars of the brewery. This all-malt brew is a delicious celebration of California’s unique brewing heritage.

That should be a fun beer to take on a hike or camping, not to mention the beer helps what I consider to be a very worthy cause, our state and national parks.

anchor-can-case

21st Amendment To Build Bay Area Brewery

21A-circle
21st Amendment Brewery & Restaurant opened in 2000, and began canning their beer by hand in 2006. The popularity of their beer in cans far outpaced their ability to keep making it on-site, and production was moved to the Cold Spring Brewery in Minnesota to meet demand. But that will soon be changing, as the San Francisco brewpub has announced that they will be building a new production brewery right here in the Bay Area, with plans for the new facility to open later this year.

The new brewery will be located in the East Bay, in San Leandro, at 2010 Williams Street. In addition to a production brewery, the new space will also include a restaurant and tasting room, as well. The new facility is 95,000 square feet and will accommodate an “initial brewing capacity of 100,000 barrels, scalable to over 250,000, making it among the largest breweries in the Bay Area.” Estimated volume for 2014 is over 70,000 barrels. The building used to house a Kellogg Cereal factory.

21A-brewery

From the press release:

“Since we began packaging our beer six years ago with our Minnesota partner brewery, we have never been able to keep up with demand,” said co-founder Nico Freccia. “Building our own local brewery will allow us to continue to focus on improving quality and consistency, and to expand into new markets where our beer is in demand.”

“We look at this as an opportunity for us to bring the vision and beer home to the Bay Area where it all started when we opened our San Francisco brewpub in 2000,” added co-founder and Brewmaster Shaun O’Sullivan. “This will allow us to continue to deepen our SF Bay Area local roots and to keep having fun making great beer. Both Nico and I are excited about making more interesting beers with our unique packaging that craft beer drinkers have come to know and love. It’s every brewer’s dream to open their own brewery and this is truly a dream come true for us.”

In addition to a state-of-the-art craft brewing facility, the new location, where Pop-Tarts and Frosted Flakes were once produced, will feature a tasting room and retail area as well as the company’s world office headquarters. Phase two will commence in 2015 and will include a full restaurant/pub, beer garden, event and meeting rooms and more. The company expects to create 20 new jobs over the next nine months and a hundred jobs over five years.

“This project will be nothing short of the number one destination spot for craft beer aficionados and beer lovers near and far. With an interactive space that will enhance each guest’s experience as they adventure around the production brewery, the plans are to repurpose the historical cereal factory in a way that celebrates the building’s industrial character and blurs the boundaries between the production space and the hospitality space,” said lead designer David Darling, of San Francisco architects Aidlin Darling Design.

21A-brewery-in

The new brewhouse will be a 100-barrel, four-vessel GEA/Huppmann, “with an initial capacity of eight brews per day.” The brewery will also include a new “state of the art KHS high speed volumetric can filling line that will be capable of filling up to 500 cans per minute.”

Contains No Bourbon

HorizontalLogoWithSpade_TexBG
After much speculation, I got a press release this morning from MillerCoors clarifying what we all thought to be the case regarding their newest creation, Miller Fortune. Here’s what they had to say:

Earlier this week, Bloomberg News Service wrote a story (“MillerCoors Seeks Spirits Fans With Bourbon-Like Lager”) about a new beer from MillerCoors called Miller Fortune, that we are launching the week of February 10.

Since that story ran, there have been several follow-up stories that inaccurately portray Miller Fortune as being a bourbon-flavored beer. That is simply not true and we’d like to set the record straight for anyone interested in writing a story in the future.

WHAT IS MILLER FORTUNE?
Miller Fortune is an exciting new beer with a 6.9% ABV. It features a rich golden color, brewed with caramel malt and cascade hops to achieve layers of flavor and a distinctly smooth finish. Our beer was brewed to deliver the complexity and depth that appeals to spirit drinkers. Spirit inspired…yes. Spirit infused…no. As many of you know, the beer industry as a whole has lost seven share points to spirits (five) and wine (two) in the last 10 years. Miller Fortune was created to fight against these losses and take back legal-drinking age spirits drinkers/occasions. So, you can say it has been inspired by the success of spirits competition and it is a darker beer that may look more bourbon-like in a glass.

WHAT MILLER FORTUNE IS NOT?
Miller Fortune is not bourbon-like or a bourbon-flavored beer.

I almost feel sorry for MillerCoors. That they would have to send out this release says a lot about the state of mainstream journalism, because that’s who got the story so wrong. What I think this reveals is that the mainstream and business press is not capable of covering the beer industry any longer. For so many years, they talked about numbers, about market share, about marketing; almost everything to do with the business, except for the beer itself, its flavor. But now that beer with flavor is kind of a big deal, they no longer know what to do. The business press booted it all over the place on this one, though Time magazine’s assigning it to a health reporter was even worse.

If I may be so bold as to suggest, the mainstream press needs to hire people who know something about beer to cover it effectively and accurately. Not business writers, not wine writers, not health writers: beer writers. I know of at least 130 members of the North American Guild of Beer Writers who would be pleased to accept a paid assignment from Bloomberg, Business Insider, Time or any number of news outlets who for years have been, for the most part, not covering beer very well, assigning beer stories to reporters who did not, and apparently still do not, really understand it. With over 2,700 American breweries, and even more internationally, there’s plenty to keep us busy. Just call one of us next time. We know the difference between a bourbon beer and one inspired by it.

HorizontalLogoWithSpade_TexBG

Miller Fortune: Bourbon & Cascades

miller
Okay, this is my third post today about Miller Fortune, the new “bourbon-like lager” from MillerCoors meant to address their loss of market share to distilled spirits. I’ll reserve judgment on the beer itself until my sample arrives and also until after it’s had a chance in the marketplace. Besides, it’s already been well-covered by Beverage Daily, Bloomberg, Business Insider and Time Magazine.

miller-fortune

But there’s certainly some oddities in the way they’re presenting it, whether by the mainstream press or by MillerCoors. As usual, it seems like they’re focusing a lot on the packaging — ooh, it’s black — and other marketing and not as much on the beer itself. One account describes the packaging as “jet-black, angular bottles meant to ‘evoke a guy in a tapered, athletic-cut suit.’” Uh-huh, that’s just what I was thinking of when I looked at it. The beer is 6.9% a.b.v., closer to an IPA than the usual light lager, though humorously Business Insider claims Coors Light is 5.9% instead of its actual 4.2%.

Then there’s trying to get bars and restaurants to serve it in a whiskey glass. Apparently, “[t]he rocks glass is intended to set Miller Fortune apart the same way the orange slice has made Blue Moon one of the company’s fastest-growing brews and its answer to the craft-beer juggernaut.” The idea is, of course, to make it seem more spirits-like, but it just seems gimmicky to me. It’s one thing to design a special glass to enhance the flavors but quite another to just pick a glass meant for something else in the hopes that people will make the association between the two.

miller-fortune-label

I don’t quite get the bourbon association, either. It wasn’t aged in a bourbon barrel, like many beers being brewed these days by smaller breweries, yet it’s referred to as a “bourbon-like lager.” The Bloomberg article says it has a “complex flavor hinting at bourbon” while Business Insider calls it a “bourbon-flavored beer.” The beer labels says it’s a “Spirited Golden Lager” while RateBeer categorizes it as an Amber/Vienna Lager while Beer Advocate has it listed as an American Amber/Red Lager. But apart from MillerCoors trying to draw an association to bourbon and spirits drinkers, and claiming bourbon makers as their inspiration, I don’t know where any bourbon flavors would be coming from.

Bloomberg brings up that they used some Cascade hops, saying it’s “a golden lager brewed in part with Cascade hops to give it a citrusy bite and caramel malt to impart an amber hue” and that “the flavor is moderately bitter with hints of sweetness, resting somewhere between a craft beer and a light lager.” So nothing about bourbon or being bourbon-flavored or bourbon-like, as far as I can tell. And the few people who’ve reviewed it on Beer Advocate and RateBeer likewise make no mention of any bourbon character. But perhaps the most hilarious statement was made by Time magazine, who states that “Miller Fortune is brewed with Cascade hops to give it its bourbon-like flavor.” That must be why Anchor Liberty and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale have all that spirited bourbon character. I can’t wait to see how this one plays out.

HorizontalLogoWithSpade_TexBG

Number Of Breweries In America Reaches 2700

ba
The Brewers Association released preliminary numbers for how many operating breweries there were in the United States as of the end of last year. That number, the highest since America’s peak in the 1870s, was 2,722. That’s nearly 400 more than at the end of 2012. Those are broken down as follows.

  • Regional breweries: 120
  • Microbreweries: 1376
  • Brewpubs: 1202
  • Large breweries: 24
  • Total: 2,722

From the press release:

98% of these breweries were small and independent craft breweries. It is interesting to note that 2013 marks the first year since 1987 that microbreweries outnumbered brewpubs in the country.

The total of 2,722 brewing facilities is the highest count since the US in around 140 years, more than when the country celebrated her centennial birthday. In 1876, the Register of United States Breweries lists 2,685 breweries. It is not however, the highest number of all-time, as the Register lists 3,286 in 1870.

In addition to the 2,722 brewing facilities, there were an additional 1,744 breweries in planning at the end of December, the highest year-end number in the BA database.

cbatus-breweries

Swan Song For Anchor Bock

goat
Anchor Brewing announced today that his year’s season release of Anchor Bock will be the last. From the press release:

Anchor Brewing Company announces the release and final selling season of Anchor Bock® Beer, a seasonal interpretation of the strong German beers that mark the beginning of spring.

Each year, breweries in Germany celebrate the coming of spring with a strong, flavorful beer. Anchor Bock Beer, a dark satiny brew with rich hints of chocolate, caramel and roasted barley, is Anchor’s interpretation of this long-standing tradition.

Bock beers are believed to have originated in the town of Einbeck, Germany and traditionally feature a goat on the labels. The Germanic term “bock” translates to “billy goat”, but has over time come to mean a beer darker and stronger than a brewery’s “regular” brew. One with, you might say, the kick of a goat.

Anchor Brewing Company will be retiring Anchor Bock Beer in 2014 making room for several new seasonals yet to be announced.

“Anchor Bock has been a beloved seasonal not only by craft beer fans, but by the folks here at Anchor,” said Mark Carpenter, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing Company. “In an effort to expand and innovate, as we have done for decades, Anchor will be retiring Bock after the 2014 season to allow room for several all-new brews, which we will be sharing with the world very soon.”

Anchor Bock Beer is available nationally from January through March in draught, 12 oz. six-packs, and 22 oz. bottles.

AnchorBockBeer6pack300ppi

Check out their short video about Anchor Bock Beer, made last year, featuring Hazel the goat.

Original Lite Beer Can Coming Back

miller-lite
These always give me a chuckle. Whenever sales are flagging, one of the strategies employed by the bigger beer companies to reverse their fortunes is to change the packaging. Earlier this month, Miller sent out a press release, “Celebrate Miller Time with the Light Beer that Started It All.” They’re bringing back the original can design for Miller Lite, their unnatural abomination of a diet beer. My thoughts on low-calorie light beer are very opinionated, and none too positive, for example read Disrespecting Low-Calorie Light Beer and No Defense For Light Beer.

MILLER LITE ORIGINAL LITE CAN

Here’s the press release:

The Original Lite Can features the familiar images of hops, barley and the words “a fine pilsner beer,” which reinforce the high quality ingredients and the unique brewing process that consumers have enjoyed for generations.

“There was a time when all that existed was heavy beer that weighed you down,” said Elina Vives, marketing director for Miller Lite. “The launch of Miller Lite broke this category convention and offered beer drinkers the best of both worlds, great taste at only 96 calories and 3.2 carbs. Miller Lite is the original light beer and this limited-edition can celebrates that innovation and helps inform consumers of the rich history behind our beer.”

In addition to becoming available to consumers in January, the Original Lite Can will appear in the upcoming Paramount Pictures’ release, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. The news team can be seen enjoying the Original Lite in the film, which will be released nationwide December 18.

The limited-edition Original Lite Can will be available nationwide January through March in 12-, 16- and 24-ounce sizes.

All well and good, but sheesh, why not just make a beer that people would want to drink, not one you have to market and advertise to death to create demand? Can people really be nostalgic for that can design? But that seems to be used a marketing tactic every few years, to change the package, the label or something along those lines. It’s indicative of a culture that’s long ago abandoned the importance of what’s inside the package and instead has been concentrating on the external. Sure, how the packaging looks is important, but it’s not more important than the beer, and for big beer companies it surely seems like marketing has trumped any other concerns for many, many years.

MILLER LITE ORIGINAL LITE CAN
Calling it a “Pilsner beer,” of course, strains the notion of what a pilsner is.

U.S. Beer Consumption Increases; Rising Demand for Higher-Priced Offerings

beverage-inf-group
According to a new report by the Beverage Information Group, “the beer industry saw gains in both dollar and volume in 2012 after a three-year downturn.” Their conclusion was that “well-marketed new products and slight improvements in the unemployment rate contributed to the beer industry’s overall growth.” Here’s the group’s press release with additional findings:

Super-premium, Craft, Imported and Flavored Malt Beverages out-performed the industry overall, as there is increasing demand for higher-priced beer. Super-premium and Premium increased 1.6%, and Craft increased 13.7% to reach 185.2 million 2.25-gallon cases. This is the largest increase for Craft beer in more than a decade.

Imported beer also increased for a third year, even though major brands such as Bass, Beck’s and Red Stripe were removed from the category because they are now domestically brewed. This 1% increase is largely due to consumer demand for a wider selection of products.

Innovations in the Light Beer category, such as the launch of Bud Light Platinum, were not enough to turn things around for the category. Light beer declined for the fourth year in a row. Popular and Malt Liquor also lost volume.

Although the beer industry saw positive changes in 2012, challenges still remain. According to the Beer Handbook, the beer industry will still see increases in the higher-priced categories such as Super-premium, Craft and Imported beer. It remains to be seen if these gains will help the beer industry maintain 2012’s positive direction.

“Today’s consumer no longer sees beer as their only drink option,” says Adam Rogers, senior research analyst, Beverage Information Group, Norwalk, Conn. “Spirits and wine marketers have been savvy in targeting consumers with flavored vodkas, rums and whiskies, as well as sweeter wines which have continued to take share away from the beer industry.”

For a mere $790, you can buy a copy of their annual Beer Handbook.

beverage-inf-group

Whole Foods To Open California Brewery

whole-foods
For a number of years, Whole Foods Market has carried a decent selection of craft beer and better imports, and has been steadily increasing their commitment to good beer. They have an especially decent selection for a national chain. Last week, they announced that they were taking it one step father, and opening a “6,000-square-foot, two-story craft beer brewery and tap room,” according to a story in the Silicon Valley Business Journal. This will be their first grocery store to include a brewery. The 27,291-square-foot grocery store where the brewery will occupy the rooftop, will be located at 700 The Alameda in San Jose. The company broke ground on Wednesday, and expects to include “a wall for growing hops.” The San Jose Whole Foods & Brewery is expected to open in the summer of 2014.

wholefoods-brewery