Craft Beer Product Segmentation 2015: A Tale Of Two Charts

It was the best of charts, it was the worst of charts. So begins every great story. This made me laugh like the Dickens this morning, as fellow beer writer Bryan Roth tweeted a chart showing “Craft Production in the U.S.” apparently as of August 2015.


The data comes from IBISWorld, a company that identifies themselves as “one of the world’s leading publishers of business intelligence, specializing in Industry research and Procurement research.” Their website shows that they have offices in Los Angeles, New York, Melbourne, London and Beijing, although the chart claims they’re “Chicago-based.” The report is entitled “Craft Beer Production in the US: Market Research Report,” and was published in August of this year. If you want to buy yourself a copy, it costs between $925 and $1,595, depending on which purchase option you choose.

Hopefully, the chart was not created by IBISWorld, because besides mis-identifying where the company is located, as Roth points out, “the graphic designer who created alternating sized circles not dependent on their % share is bad at their job.” It’s a terrible chart, on so many levels. First, why use “stencil” as the font for the title in the red center circle? Why are the outer circles different shades of blue, for no apparent rhyme or reason. There’s no discernible pattern to that decision. Bock is the lightest color, at 3.9%, followed by Amber Ale at 10.9%, so you might be tempted to think the color is dependent on market share, lighter for lower and darker for higher percentages. But no, fruit beer is the lowest, at 3.5%, and is medium blue, while Lager, at only 8.6%, is the darkest blue on the chart.

Why are the black lines not emanating from the center of the middle? Instead, it looks like one of the webs from the 1980s video game “Tempest.” They all meet in an outer ring, too, except for Bock and Wheat Beer, which are curiously left hanging. But most egregious, the size of the circles are not even close to being proportional to the percentages expressed in them. The sizes appear to be nothing more than random, just like the color choices. So at first glance, it makes no sense and is, at best, confusing. At worst, it looks like it was designed by a five-year old, and frankly that may be overly insulting to toddlers.

Carla Jean Lauter, better known by her nom nom de plume, The Beer Babe, was similarly bothered by the chart, but decided to do something about it. She “fixed” it, making the bubbles proportional to their market share so the chart is easier to read and better represents the reality it’s trying to convey. She also chose the colors of the bubbles to be representative of the beer color of each style, even choosing pumpkin color for seasonal. As Lauter tweeted when she posted her version of the chart, “I feel better now.” Weirdly, so do I. It’s so much better.


World Beer Market: Opportunities & Forecasts 2014 – 2020

Allied Market Research, an international research company with seven offices around the world, has started selling their latest report, the World Beer Market – Opportunities and Forecasts, 2014 – 2020. If you want to buy the report it will set you back anywhere from $4,515 to $10,680, for a global user. While here at the Bulletin we’re not sufficiently well-heeled to buy our own copy, there is some information revealed to entice potential buyers on the report’s website.

For example, this chart gives several data points from the report.

Global Beer Market

And here’s the “Report Overview:”

Beer is a yeast – fermented alcoholic drink prepared from malt, and flavored by adding hops. Popular in Neolithic Europe, its production dates backs to as far as 2050 BC. By, 7th century AD the alcoholic drink was being produced and marketed by several monasteries in Europe. This drink is majorly brewed from ingredients such as yeast, water, hops and malted barley, although many fermentable carbohydrate sources or natural additives may be included. Likewise, fermentable carbohydrates like wheat, rice and maize are added to produce different styles as well as flavors. Beer style categorizes this alcoholic beverage by factors including flavor, production technique, ingredients, color, and origin etc., of which ale and lager are the two commercially popular types. Ales use top fermenting yeast at a room temperature, on the contrary lagers are made with bottom – fermenting yeast below 10 Celsius. The global beer market is expected to generate about $688.4 billion in sales by 2020. Besides this, the aforementioned industry is likely to register a CAGR of 6 percent during the forecast period 2015 to 2020. A significant increase in the consumption volume is believed to fuel the market growth in developing regions.

Worldwide, sales is following an upward trend. Many brands are now experiencing tremendous success due to a sudden rise in the disposable income and changing lifestyle. Exploiting a niche segment, matured markets are also witnessing a dramatic shift in the high calorie beer market and have developed a taste for low –calorie brew. Likewise, continuous popularity of craft brew has paved a path for a new generation of producers. It is phenomenon, that right from their debut to their annual sales the strong and light brews occupy majority of the market share in the beer industry. Alternatives to glass such as PET, makers are using durable yet ductile, affordable and sustainable packaging solutions like cans or draught. Consumption statistics also disclose a rapid growth in the number of female drinkers.

Beer Market Analysis by Type

World’s largest brands have uncorked and positioned their wide portfolio of strong and light brew in the domestic and international market, which now occupies a major chunk of the total business. The market for strong brew is expected to garner about $464 billion in sales by 2020. Besides this, the strong industry is likely to register a CAGR of 6.5 percent during the period 2015 to 2020. Many developed countries have been biased to stronger brew, a liking that has become highly accentuated with the brand image associated with such drinks. In the West, taste and refinement are the prime factors for drinkers. Thus many prefer strong brews due to their high alcoholic content. In close completion are the light brews that have low calorie count and other nutritional contents. Light brew have exploited the desire of the health conscious drinkers to stay healthy.

Beer Industry Market Analysis by Production

Breweries are categorized into macro-breweries and micro-breweries based on the production volume or size. Officially the war between them is on, with craft brew companies increasing their production capability. Macro breweries are offering quality and quantity across greater distances. At the same time microbreweries are benefitting too. Likewise, emergence of breweries in less saturated locales worldwide too is a welcome news. Recent changes in drinking preferences have considerably increased the demand for micro-breweries, which is anticipated to register a CAGR of 9.3 percent during the period of 2015 to 2020. Larger number of discerning consumers are shifting to locally produced drinks, enabling the ale industry to revive. So, with varieties of flavor as well as alcohol content, microbreweries are increasing today because distributors spotted a huge demand and took risk on imports of major microbrew brands.

Industry by Category

Better sales of even the more expensive premium, super premium and draught have shrugged off all doubts about the dip in the consumption volume. Consumers today are increasingly desirous to experiment with locally produced premium and international varieties. Many brewers now recognize that the premium brews industry would stay the most attractive new segment. Some brewers have just hyped their portfolio as premium in many countries because they are international. Producers are putting greater focus on how they should brand these premium labels. Premunization, is significant and an innovation, that aims at targeting the high–spending customers including highly trendy brews for tier -1 mavericks. The premium industry is anticipated to register a CAGR of 6.4 percent during the period of 2015 to 2020, when compared to the super premium and normal brew segment. Besides this, the super-premium brews are observing a rapid growth in the business and would grow three folds. Few major consumer behavior pattern have also given the super-premium sales a push. The grocery outlets today make up a major part of alcohol sales in terms of value. This presents a greater opportunity for the super – premium brews to grow via channel expansion. Moreover, the normal brews occupy a largest division of about 43 percent of the total industry.

Industry by Packaging

The packaging plays a vital role when it comes to influencing the customer buying pattern. Available in bottles, cans or draught these drinks are delivered with care and consideration. In line with the growing sales of brews like ales, new and flavored drinks in bottles are making waves. However with acceleration, canned brew are giving an intense competition to their bottled and draught peers. Likewise, cans are becoming more and more famous and idiosyncrasy in it contributes to the shift in the buying pattern or attitude. There is a rising demand for canned that can be easily stored as well as transported. Further, what makes canned the first choice is the fact that it protect the content from external heat. Alongside this, range of already –established draught brews are continuing to expand in the competitive business environment.

Industry by Geography

Over the 300 years that ale existed in North America, customer demands has constantly pushed the segment forward with rapid and steady growth. Next, introduction to the craft brewing technique created immense opportunity and a greater population responded to it with further support. Similarly, Europe also has an emerging market for hop lovers. Region’s relaxed brewing mandates have stabilized the consumption volume, which fell significantly in the past two years. Emerging economies are also becoming significantly important to the major international brands, as sales in some matured region still lags. Increased sales in Latin America and Asia has empowered producers to economize out complete sales growth. The Asia – Pacific market is expected to garner about $202.4 billion in sales by 2020. Besides this, the market is expected to register a CAGR of 7.3 percent during the period 2015 – 2020.

Beer Industry Competitive Analysis

To acquire a major chunk of the market, brew producers are seen expanding their distribution channels even for their less popular breeds. Merger and acquisition, rumors have hovered over the brew sector for years, with many domestic and international brewers considering tie – up at some point, inescapable. Likewise, multinational producers continue to make huge investments to grow their reach and trump up collaboration with domestic operators, to help consumers keen in exploring the local and international varieties buy them. To tap demand for expensive brews, a product segment where companies have more rivals brands decide to compete directly and launch new products.

And here’s a short “Analyst’s Review:”

The Global Beer Market would witness a steady growth in the coming years. Europe accounts for the highest revenue generating region in the global beer market followed by Asia-Pacific and North America. The growth in the North American and European region would be at a moderate pace in the future due to increasing health consciousness and legal regulations in the region. However, there has been a significant increase in the demand of beer in the developing countries of Asia-Pacific region. International brewing companies like SABMiller, Heineken have introduced especially brewed beer for the Asian market catering to the distinct taste buds of the consumers. The global beer market is primarily driven by the increasing disposable incomes and changing lifestyles. The growing adoption of craft beer and the rising number of restaurants and bars would further accelerate the growth of the beer market.

Conventionally, the male population has been the major consumer segment. However, with evolving cultural changes and modernization, there has been a significant rise in the count of females drinking beer. Women in the age group of 21 to 30 consume more beer than other age groups. Women generally prefer light beer with low alcohol content. Many vendors in the market are focusing on drinks especially made for women to increase their customer base and serve a wider audience. There has also been a rise in the adoption of craft beer as consumers want to explore different beer flavors. Craft beers include traditional brewing methods with exotic ingredients which add distinct flavor to the beer. Craft beer is widely adopted in the European and North American countries while Asian countries are still in the growing phase. Growing health consciousness, heavy taxation, and legal regulation limit the growth of the market. Stiff competition from substitutes including wine and other spirits also restrict its adoption.

You can buy the full report, and if you want to share it with me, I wouldn’t say no.

American Brewery Count Reaches 4,000 Milestone

The Brewers Association announced this morning that the American Beer Industry has hit another milestone: there are now over 4,000 active breweries in the U.S. It also appears likely that the previous high of 4,131, which was achieved in 1873, will likely be broken if not by the end of this year, then certainly sometime in 2016.

Here’s the press release from the BA’s economist, Bart Watson:

Much of the beer world’s attention in the past week was focused on the Great American Beer Festival. However, the week also brought another milestone in the resurgence of local American brewing, with the Brewers Association database passing 4,000 active breweries. Although precise numbers from the 19th century are difficult to confirm, this is almost certainly the first time the United States has crossed the 4,000 brewery barrier since the 1870s.

Van Wieren (1995) notes that the Internal Revenue Department counted 2,830 “ale and lager breweries in operation” in 1880, down from a high point of 4,131 in 1873. Given the strong pace of openings (approximately two openings/day with a net increase of 1.9/day factoring in closings), it is likely that later in 2015, or early in 2016, there will be more active breweries in the United States than at any point in our nation’s history. This is a remarkable achievement that would have been unthinkable in late 1970s, when the number of American breweries dipped below 100.

More recently, it seems only a short while ago that I was writing about passing the 3,000 brewery mark, and many of the same thoughts still apply: the continued return to a localization of beer production and the potential for future growth balanced by ever increasing competition and future challenges for breweries to differentiate themselves. I’ll also repeat what I said then:

“What it does not mean is that we’ve reached a saturation point. Most of the new entrants continue to be small and local, operating in neighborhoods or towns. What it means to be a brewery is shifting, back toward an era when breweries were largely local, and operated as a neighborhood bar or restaurant. How many neighborhoods in the country could still stand to gain from a high-quality brewpub or micro taproom? While a return to the per capita ratio of 1873 seems unlikely (that would mean more than 30,000 breweries), the resurgence of American brewing is far from over.”

The past 15+ months have borne out that statement as the map of U.S. brewing has continued to diversify. There are now breweries in more than 2,000 unique cities across all 50 states. At the same time, there are also nearly 1,000 cities with a population of more than 10,000 that don’t have a local brewery yet, and numerous neighborhoods in larger cities without a local brewpub or taproom. As America’s beer culture continues to deepen and spread, there are still ample opportunities for well-differentiated, high-quality entrants. So, to all the hard-working brewers/brewery staff that have made 4,000 breweries a reality, and to the next wave of innovative entrants to follow, cheers!

Bountiful Breweries

Blaming Overeating On Drinking

You know what makes you fat? It’s not food. It’s drinking alcohol. Wait, what? Yup, according to a study financed by the NIH, conducted by the Indiana Alcohol Research Center, and published earlier this year in the journal Obesity, researchers claim that what they’ve dubbed “the apéritif phenomenon” may be causing our obesity epidemic. Except that they’re not.

The self-described “internationally recognized news website” Inquisitr, under the category “Celebrity Health,” published an article entitled “Alcohol Sensitizes Brain’s Response To Food Aromas, Say Scientists — Is Liquor Responsible For Rising Obesity?” Naturally, Alcohol Justice gleefully tweeted the bad news as “new evidence points to alcohol’s role in U.S. obesity epidemic.” Except that, as I mentioned, the evidence does nothing of the kind.

The study that the article is based on is entitled The apéritif effect: Alcohol’s effects on the brain’s response to food aromas in women. Here’s the abstract:

Consuming alcohol prior to a meal (an apéritif) increases food consumption. This greater food consumption may result from increased activity in brain regions that mediate reward and regulate feeding behavior. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we evaluated the blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) response to the food aromas of either roast beef or Italian meat sauce following pharmacokinetically controlled intravenous infusion of alcohol.

BOLD activation to food aromas in non-obese women (n = 35) was evaluated once during intravenous infusion of 6% v/v EtOH, clamped at a steady-state breath alcohol concentration of 50 mg%, and once during infusion of saline using matching pump rates. Ad libitum intake of roast beef with noodles or Italian meat sauce with pasta following imaging was recorded.

BOLD activation to food relative to non-food odors in the hypothalamic area was increased during alcohol pre-load when compared to saline. Food consumption was significantly greater, and levels of ghrelin were reduced, following alcohol.

An alcohol pre-load increased food consumption and potentiated differences between food and non-food BOLD responses in the region of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus may mediate the interplay of alcohol and responses to food cues, thus playing a role in the apéritif phenomenon.

The Indiana Alcohol Research Center “focuses on the elucidation of the biomedical and psychosocial factors that contribute to alcohol abuse and alcoholism,” which suggests to me they’re another group like the NIAAA, or National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (whose grant created the IARC), is exclusively interested in exploring the negative aspects of alcohol. And just like the NIAAA, it’s right there in their charter.

Curiously, yesterday the full text of the article was also online, but today it’s restricted. They start with the premise that “consuming alcohol prior to a meal (their “apéritif phenomenon”) increases food consumption,” but of course that’s the point of an apéritif, or at least to enhance and make the experience of the food and/or the food and the drink better.

But as they conclude, this “pre-loading” of alcohol is what makes us want to eat more, which they believe that their study shows. When I briefly looked at the entire article, their longer discussion of the findings, as is quite common, suggested caution in drawing too many conclusions and suggesting further study was warranted. As the shorter conclusion states, these “food cues” play “a role in the apéritif phenomenon,” which is not exactly the same as saying “drinking is responsible for American obesity.”

But that didn’t stop author Alap Naik Desai from making such speculation, fueling the prohibitionist response that of course “Liquor [is] Responsible For [the] Rising Obesity” in the United States.

A research conducted by Indiana University indicated that exposure to alcohol enhanced the brain’s sensitivity and heightened its response to food aromas. In simpler words, food seemed much more appealing and appetizing, which, of course, led to extra consumption. Connecting the dots, one could also summarize that alcohol consumption was responsible for increased intake of food and hence a hidden cause of obesity.

I’m not sure which dots he’s referring to, since that’s a fairly absurd statement that isn’t contained in the study itself. But beyond that, the study involved just 35 female test subjects, no men at all. And it seems hard to extrapolate anything meaningful that could be applicable to the human population from so few people. Also, they claim that people “responded enthusiastically to food aromas after the body had been exposed to alcohol,” but not from drinking it, simply from having smelled it. Despite the lack of causation, or a robust sample size or even anything resembling reality, the lead author of the study, William Eiler, apparently told Desai that “this poses a major risk to those trying to keep their weight down.” Seriously, “a major risk” because 35 women seemed more hungry after sniffing alcohol? Desai continues. “With America weighing down under an obesity epidemic and two out of every three American adults consuming alcohol, there is an immediate need to find more connecting factors between the brain, food, and alcohol, advise the scientists.”

Except that this idea is easily demolished by one simple fact. Even in countries where alcohol consumption per capita exceeds the United States, which according to the World health Organization is 36 countries, the obesity rates do not follow the same pattern, which you’d expect if alcohol “pose[d] a major risk to those trying to keep their weight down.” According to WHO, Belarus, Andorra, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Grenada, Austria, Ireland, France, Saint Lucia, Estonia, Luxembourg, Germany, Russia, Slovakia, Portugal, Hungary, Croatia, Poland, Belgium, Denmark, Australia, the Bahamas, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Spain, Latvia, Finland, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Gabon, Romania, Nigeria, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Cyprus all consume more alcohol per capita than the U.S., based on data for fifteen years, from 1990-2010.

And as for the most obese countries, we’re number one according to several sources, including Business Insider, the Telegraph and NationMaster. Although there are some sources that claim in 2013, Mexico took the title from us, yet it, too, is conspicuously absent from the list of countries that drink more than we do, meaning they drink less but are more obese.

Of those 36 countries that the WHO data makes clear drink more per capita than we do, only half of them appear on the OECD list of the top obese nations, from their 2012 Obesity Update report. If alcohol was causing people to eat more, than it seems clear people who drink more should likewise be eating more, too, and we’d see a direct correlation between both sets of numbers.

The three sources other than the WHO list also include on their lists of the most obese nations; Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mauritania, Nauru, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Tonga, Turkey, UAE, and Zimbabwe, of which only two — Nigeria and Spain — drink more than we do. Again, if any of this were true, it seems obvious that there would be an easily recognizable correlation between both alcohol consumption and the obesity rates, but there isn’t, strongly suggesting there isn’t one at all.

I suspect the researchers know this, but the journalist who took the study and twisted it to fit a narrative probably did not. He finishes with this conclusion. “With America weighing down under an obesity epidemic and two out of every three American adults consuming alcohol, there is an immediate need to find more connecting factors between the brain, food, and alcohol, advise the scientists.” But is that what they’re advising? Because the evidence doesn’t quite measure up to that scary headline. If this were true, wouldn’t doctors be prescribing alcohol for their patients who need to eat more. I’d also say his article seems irresponsible, since it promotes an idea that it doesn’t actually support, and misrepresents the facts to get more people clicking on the link. It’s so bad that only a prohibitionist would fall for it, because facts don’t matter in propaganda, only making alcohol look bad.

Prohibitionists Picking On Past Their Primers

What is it with Alcohol Justice insulting people recently? A few days ago they called people around the world “idiotic,” and now they’re referring to the elderly as “geezers?” What happened to being an organization holding the alcohol industry to impossibly high standards? Or don’t those apply in the first person, only in the third person? Sadly, that’s probably the answer as whatever they do is championed as correct and everything — and I do mean everything — that alcohol companies and anyone who might choose to drink alcohol are doing is considered wrong.

So — sigh — what is it this time? AJ tweeted out the following this morning:


“Some geezers are hitting the hootch too hard Better wake-up before it’s too late!”

The link takes you to an article posted on the BBC‘s health website, with the far more gentle title, Elderly people warned over alcohol consumption. So why exactly is AJ calling the elderly “geezers?” According to Wikipedia, “Geezer is a slang term for a man. In the UK, it can carry the connotation of either age or eccentricity. In the US, the term typically refers to a cranky old man.” In AJ’s tweet, of course, they show three elderly women sipping what looks like wine, champagne and a cocktail, not “hootch,” or even it’s more common spelling “hooch” (oh, AJ how many mistakes can you pack into one tweet?). Yes, hooch can mean any “alcoholic liquor,” but it usually refers to “inferior or illicit whiskey,” not the good stuff. So calling these three women geezers drinking hooch doesn’t really work, does it?

The BBC article itself, naturally, is problematic, as well. The headline is that they found that “one in five people over 65 who drink” (so only 20% and only 20% of the elderly population that are not teetotalers, meaning less than 20%) is drinking their “hooch” at “unsafe levels.”

First of all, those levels they’re talking about in the UK are arbitrary and were simply made up, as was revealed in 2007, twenty years after the guidelines for the UK had been set in stone in 1987. One committee member who’d worked on the guidelines remembered that they were simply “plucked out of the air” and had “no basis in science” whatsoever, which I detailed at the time in Target: Alcohol. So it’s pretty hard to get worked up about elderly people, and a minority of them at that, who are not following capricious, arbitrary guidelines that were simply made up.

But the kicker, for me, is that final admonishment in AJ’s tweet: “Better wake-up before it’s too late!” To which my first through was exactly the same as the nearly 300 commenters to the BBC article. “Or what?” After working my entire lifetime, and finally reaching retirement age, finally able to do the things I want to do, the last thing I want to hear is “go easy, darling, mustn’t have too much to drink” from … well, from anybody. Seriously, unless I’m falling down, incoherently drunk every single day at age 70, it’s nobody’s business but my own and Alcohol Justice and their ilk can go f*@k themselves. I’m going to enjoy my twilight years, if I can, and if I make it that far on my own, I think I can manage without their unwanted intrusion and advice. They don’t care about my health, they care about controlling people and telling them what’s good for them because they know better than you and me. It’s the true national pastime.

But what I’m still unclear about is why they’ve chosen to begin attacking people with insults and epithets, people who’ve done nothing more than live their lives as they see fit, but apparently differently from how AJ believes they should live. That’s certainly not how you win people over to your way of thinking. It just pisses them off.

Beer May Lessen Chronic Pain

Here’s another study you won’t see reported by Alcohol Justice, because it goes against their propagandist mantra. A study conducted at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland essentially found that the moderate consumption of alcohol might lessen chronic pain, especially in people with fibromyalgia, defined as a “a syndrome characterized by fatigue and chronic pain in the muscles and in tissues surrounding the joints.”

Drinks Business summarized the findings:

In a study of over 2,000 sufferers of chronic widespread pain, those who often consumed above average amounts of alcohol had lower levels of disability than those who never or rarely drank.

The research into sufferers of fibromyalgia — a rheumatic condition that causes muscular pain and stiffness — surveyed patient’s eating and drinking habits to determine the effect of diet on their symptoms.

Of the 2,239 people surveyed, those who drank 21 to 35 units of alcohol per week were 67% less likely than to experience disability than those who didn’t drink.

The study itself was published on the July issue of the journal Arthritis Care & Research under the title “Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with lower risk (and severity) of chronic widespread pain: Results from a UK population-based study.”

Aberdeen also put out a pdf with the basics of the study and here’s the Abstract:

Objectives: To determine whether reported level of alcohol consumption is associated with the likelihood of reporting chronic widespread pain (CWP) and, amongst persons with CWP, the associated disability.

Methods: A population-based study in two areas of the United Kingdom. Participants self-completed a postal questionnaire. They were classified according to whether they met the American College of Rheumatology definition of CWP and whether the pain was disabling (Chronic Pain Grade III or IV). They reported their usual level of alcohol consumption. Potential confounding factors on which information was available included age, gender, cigarette smoking, employment status, self-reported weight and height and level of deprivation.

Results: 13,574 persons participated (mean age 55 years; 57% female) of whom 2239 (16.5%) had CWP: 28% reported never regularly consuming alcohol, 28% consuming up to 5 units/wk, 20% 6-10 units/wk and 24% more than 10 units/wk. Amongst persons with CWP, disability was strongly linked to level of alcohol consumption. Prevalence of disability decreased with increasing alcohol consumption up to 35 unit/wk (Odds Ratio (OR)21-35 units alcohol/wk v. never drinkers 0.33 95% CI (0.19,0.58)) adjusted for confounders. A similar relationship was found between reporting CWP and level of alcohol consumption (adjOR21-35 units alcohol/wk v. regular drinkers 0.76 95% CI (0.61-0.94).

Conclusions: This study has demonstrated strong associations between level of alcohol consumption and CWP. However the available evidence does not allow us to conclude that the association is causal. The strength of the associations means that specific studies to examine this potential relationship are warranted.

So while the researchers believe more study is necessary to confirm a causal connection, they do believe there are “strong associations” between moderate drinking and chronic widespread pain, and that those are robust enough to warrant additional study.


Nielsen Beer Numbers Show Where Growth Is Happening

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.


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.

Google Trends In Beer

This morning Jonathan Surratt alerted me to a fun tool that Google has available, known as Google Trends Explore. You can use it to compare trends in virtually any search term and even topics (which is in beta). Jonathan was comparing “craft beer” to things like potato salad and mashed potatoes, but you can do all sorts of comparisons. So just for a bit of fun, I tried a few different ones. Most are comparing searches, but a few measure topics. Five is the most comparisons you can do at one time, but that still allows for some interesting pairings. In each case, the charts show the trends from 2004 through the present, which is over ten years of data.

First, here’s the difference between craft beer vs. beer. Just beer is beating the pants off modified beer. Good.

Here’s Craft Beer, Beer and Wine compared. Wine is leaving us in the dust.

And here’s just beer and wine. But it’s not that far apart and we are gaining on them.

And this is beer vs. wine, but by topic instead of by searches. By topic it’s closer still, and we’ve even come up on top a few times closer to the present.

Here’s beer compared to four popular spirits. Vodka, not surprisingly, is leading the tightly packed spirits, but beer is besting all of them pretty handily.

And here’s five of the most popular beer brands.

This is the same five beer brands but by topic.

Craft Brewers Just Don’t Care

Nobody can piss me off faster than Alcohol Justice, the self-styled do gooders and self-proclaimed “watchdogs” of those of us in the evil alcohol empire. I just noticed this yesterday, but for at least the last week, they’ve been tweeting this inaccurate and misleading message that “High-calorie craft beer maker’s don’t care.” Here’s what they say:


You don’t have to be Noam Chomsky to parse this sentence and figure out what they’re saying. Beer has lots of calories and brewers just don’t give a shit, painting craft brewers in a negative light, something Alcohol Justice has turned in to an art form. But is that the truth? Is that even what the source of this claims? Regular readers won’t be surprised to learn that AJ once again has taken a statement and twisted into something else to promote their own agenda. Shocking, I know. The original source of this comes from an article in the Columbus Dispatch on June 26 entitled Small breweries sometimes make high-octane, high-calorie beers.

It’s all about calories and how some higher alcohol beers made by craft brewers have more calories than lower alcohol beers, which is a world class “duh.” If you claim you don’t know that more alcohol has more calories then I’m amazed at the level of ignorance you’re willing to admit. If you’re drinking an imperial stout and have convinced yourself it contains no more calories than a pale ale, you’re willfully deluding yourself, and you probably know it, even if you won’t admit it. But I’m not terribly interested in the calorie question, it’s been done to death and certainly isn’t going away anytime soon. What really annoys me is Alcohol Justice’s flippant hatred of brewers and insisting they don’t care, as if that makes them bad people. The reality, of course, is quite different. Here’s the relevant portion of the article:

Unless they’re aiming for a low-cal beer to appeal to dieters, day drinkers and the like, craft brewers say they don’t give two pints about calories. They’re after flavor and aroma and other qualities that make drinking good beer worth it. The qualities of your favorite porter or citrus-forward IPA depend upon a series of ingredient choices and the complex interplay of water, grain, hops and yeast that follows.

So it’s not that the brewers “don’t care” about higher calories, it’s simply that they place more emphasis on aromas and flavors, preferring to create beers that feature those more prominently. They’re not willfully making high calorie beers just to fatten people up and make them unhealthy, as AJ suggests. And why pick on brewers? This is especially galling since wine and sprits, with far more alcohol, has … wait for it … far more calories. Beer has the fewest calories of any alcoholic drink by ounce. I’m sure people will argue that people drink more beer so that’s moot. But the point of drinking better beer is to drink less of it. To me at least, beer with flavor is not made to pound, but to enjoy at a more reasonable pace, usually determined by the circumstances. Imperial stout is not made to be swigged, but shared in a snifter or similar glass, so the idea that it’s the same as any other beer seems at best facetious. If you’re downing pint glasses of Parabola or Ten FIDY you’re doing it wrong. Here’s an infographic that accompanied the article.


But the larger point is why do we attack beer and alcohol makers for the natural amount of calories created by the way they’re made? We don’t do that for calorie-rich desserts like cake, ice cream and pie. You know what else is high in calories? Cereal, avocados, bananas, nuts and berries, granola bars, pasta, lobster and so many more foods we love. But we’re not lambasting the people who farm, grow or make those for not caring about how high in calories they are. That’s because they’re not intentionally making them high in calories, it’s just the result of their nature. The same is true for beer. Brewers aren’t intentionally making high-calorie beers to fuck with people the way Alcohol Justice so churlishly insists. They’re making them because they taste good, and people want them, not because they just “don’t care.”

Are there no ethical standards for non-profits? Shouldn’t “watchdogs” who claim the moral high ground have to at least be honest and truthful themselves? Because even though they claim “beer makers don’t care,” they certainly don’t seem to care about their own veracity, and instead twist anything they can to fit their increasingly narrow narrative that everything having to do with alcohol, and especially beer it seems, is bad.

Your Favorite Beer State By State

Here’s another interesting map of the U.S., supposedly showing the most popular beer for each state. I have no idea how the data was compiled as the creator of the map, and presumably the data behind it, CubeYou, all day yesterday presented you with the following error message when you click on State by State Favorite Beer: “Error establishing a database connection.” And you get that same message even trying to visit their home page so either they’ve been inundated with visitors today (doubtful) or something’s going on with their website (but whatever it is has been going on for several hours). This morning it was finally back up, but we’re no closer to understanding their methodology. They state that “the Beer Map below illustrates the beer brands that have the highest popularity in each state. Popularity indicates how popular a beer is in each state compared with the national distribution.” But that really doesn’t tell us much. And not having any information about who’s in second, third, etc. also makes it difficult to rely on their data.

There are a lot of local favorites, and of course the big boys hold sway in a number of states (10 for ABI beers and 2 apiece for Coors, Miller and Pabst). A few I can’t quite make out because of the size of the map so my own analysis may be off accordingly. Lagunitas owns both California and Illinois, where they have breweries. Heineken’s got Nevada and Hawaii (damn tourists) and imports rule in a few more states, sadly. A few more curious spots: Coors in Washington, and more surprising, Alaskan Brewing in Oregon. Given how fiercely loyal the state is toward their beer, that surprises me most of all, but maybe it has to do with how many strong brands their are in Oregon and that causes them to cancel one another out (or maybe it’s just wrong).

UPDATE: Now that I’m able to see the map larger and make out all of the name on it, even more problems emerge. In Minnesota and Tennessee, Midwest Supplies is listed as those states’ most popular beer, even though it’s a homebrew supply store. Arkansas and Montana have listed “Craft Beer On Tap,” a generic logo and not a brand at all as far as I can tell. Ceres, the Danish beer, in Florida seems questionable and as a reader pointed out, Yuengling is not even distributed in the state of Maine so it’s hard to see how it could be the most popular beer there. And as another reader mentioned, Dogfish Head not being the most popular in their home state of Delaware stretches credulity, as well, and all of these issues in total are making this exercise veer toward farce or chicanery. Whatever CubeYou’s actual methodology might have been, it’s hard to see that they produced any legitimate results. I had wished once their website was back up that there would be more transparency about how the data was collected and perhaps even a way to peek into the raw data itself. Unfortunately, if anything, they seem to have gone out of their way to obfuscate how they arrived upon the results.