The President’s Daily Brief (coolly called the PDB) is a top-secret document produced and given each morning at 7:45 a.m. to the President of the United States. It provides the prez with the juiciest international intelligence warranting attention and analysis. We feel our Monday Beer Brief is not unlike the PDB. Some minor differences: ours is once a week; comes at 10:30 a.m.; is very public; deals mostly with beer; and will occasionally rely on Dune and Voltron jokes to make it readable. These are small discrepancies. Both briefs have their merits, but if you’re a brewing pro or beer super enthusiast, this is the intel you need for your Monday morning.
First, enjoy this video making fun of the craft pseudo-intellectual
It’s Monday, right? So don’t even bother reading this. Reading sounds difficult. I can’t believe you’ve even made it this far. Hey, try writing this weekly bag of wank. We had our Christmas party this weekend, and my brain’s still not working. It only wants to watch, so enjoy the moving images above. They come from Third Leg Studios, which describes itself as one of the U.K.’s most successful and prolific independent production companies.
From the website: “Please give us work, we will quite literally do anything for money.” Hey, fun mission statement. And hey, they do good work too. The video above might even crack a smile on that uncrackable thing you call a face. After watching that, tackle this cheeky Irish video making fun of craft beer. Then feel free to fall down a hole of YouTubes till about 5 p.m.
Let us chart the premiumization of the beer market
We noted last week in a report that while the American alcohol market is only so big, dollar sales continue to increase as consumers gravitate toward more premium spirits, wine and beer products. Those premium products include craft beer, yes, but also aged spirits and certain Americana-tilted categories (like bourbon). The Brewers Association Economist and beer soothsayer Bart Watson also recently wrote an excellent article on the premiumization of booze (beer specifically), where he produced some pretty cool numbers.
I pulled the IRI scan data for every beer brand for the full year of 2011 and 2016 YTD and the changes are remarkable. Although the dominant four brands still account for the plurality of volume and dollar sales, their contributions have rapidly declined as the market has shifted upward under their feet. The table [here] shows share of dollar sales in scan in those two years. In 2011, the largest four brands were 44.6% of dollar sales and all brands priced above them were 31.4%. By 2016, the leading four brands had declined to 37.0% of dollar sales whereas brands priced above them were now 7.5 share points larger, at 44.5% of total dollar sales YTD.
More and more consumers are favoring more expensive selections such as craft and imported beer, but it probably won’t always be like that. Watson warns: “The premiumization wheel has already turned multiple times in the beer industry and will continue to turn in the future.” Using the data mentioned above, he also breaks down which premium product segment has the most hurdles. He bases his monetary numbers on the average “case price” (24 beers) of a craft brand (ranging from $26 to $65)
As you can see on the graph, much of the struggle for craft as a category this year has occurred in the $25-$35 range, which is an increasingly crowded segment of the beer market. In addition to a growing number of craft brewer brands, that range includes the growing premium plus brands from the large brewers, newly acquired brewers that are being scaled up, many import brands, and more. Brands that can position themselves above that range have found more greenfield space and have been on average more successful (albeit at lower volumes), as seen by the aggregated figures.
Don’t use rape puns in your beer names
It seems like commonsense, but we just wanted to let you know. Alas, Milwaukee-based MobCraft Beer Inc. found out the hard way. The brewery basically got caught up in a dumb thing, which maybe wasn’t exactly their fault, but I guess it kind of was. Like its namesake might imply, MobCraft crowdsources its beers as a business model, which is cool, allowing people to vote online for new recipes to be brewed. In one of its latest rounds of voting, some turd named one of the final beer recipes Date Grape, and it still made it into the voting process. According to this Journal Sentinel article:
Schwartz took to Twitter and Facebook to explain and make amends.
“As many may know, there was an offensive name of a user-submitted beer in this month’s vote. Our monthly votes let people submit ideas for the beers; we did not have a process for screening names before the vote rounds started. I feel horrible that this oversight happened, the beer name has been changed and we now have a process where our team vets names before they ever appear publicly. We would never promote rape culture as it is a very serious issue, never to be joked about. Again my deepest apologies for this.”
Well, the internet is full of creeps, and sometimes it’s hard to stop them, but I still think MobCraft is a cool idea.
BeerBoard gets featured in Buffalo Wild Wings commercial (for like a second)
BeerBoard does lots. For instance: BeerBoard monitors more than 50,000 draft lines and 35,000 products through its Integrated Beer Management and Guest Display System. BeerBoard can use that system to create cool data analytics for clients. This makes beer BeerBoard cool; just read its stats report from September.
BeerBoard also created the BeerBoard Display, a digital consumer-facing menu display, and the BeerBoard Menu, an automated print and website menu (on top of a consumer mobile application). Just recently, in one of the latest national commercial spots by Buffalo Wild Wings, the BeerBoard and its BeerBoard Display platform get a good few seconds of airtime (even though the onus of the bit is about “walls made for sports”). The spot first played on December 5, and it’s above. To the press release!
“As a company, BeerBoard is thrilled to play a role in this national spot by Buffalo Wild Wings,” said Mark Young, BeerBoard founder and CEO. “We take pride that one of our premier services, BeerBoard Display, has grown to be a valued component of the operations and guest experience at a national leader like Buffalo Wild Wings. To be featured in a national commercial is not only validating, but fun to share with our partners, followers and friends.”
What exactly is the BeerBoard Display? Welp, it’s a consumer-facing digital menu screen, allowing for operators to display real-time draft menus and nutritional information (that latter part might be law eventually). The BDubs commercial series plays in heavy rotation on ESPN, NBC Sports Network and Fox Sports 1. It is set to run through December 31 and includes the voice of famed Lebowski-bud John Goodman.
The U.K.’s oldest large-scale brewery, Mortlake/Stag, is selling its equipment
Mortlake is a suburb of the “London Borough of Richmond upon Thames,” which as you might expect is on the south bank of the Thames. Historically, its economy has been a bedrock of malting and brewing (and farming, watermen and great tapestry works!). The Stag Brewery, also called the Mortlake Brewery, began brewing commercially in 1700 but most recently produced Budweiser beer. Now its Bud days are over.
The contents of the historic Mortlake Brewery are to be sold via private treaty and online auction by Eddisons. In the press release, Eddisons notes the iconic site’s use as a brewery since 1487 (that’s before the Stag name). The online auction of ancillary and maintenance equipment, parts stocks and process equipment will be live on eddisons.com/auctions.
The Mortlake site was also famous as the home of Watney’s Red Barrel and Pale Ale beers until the 1980s. The Watney family were the main partners in the Stag Brewery, Victoria, for much of the 19th century. When the Stag Brewery in Victoria was demolished in 1959, the name was transferred to Mortlake Brewery. According to the press release:
[Mortlake Brewery] was one of eight huge London breweries still operating in the mid-1970s, which between them generated one in every five pints of beer drunk in Britain. For the past 20 years, the brewery produced vast quantities of Budweiser, with more than 60,000 bottles of lager an hour processed by its bottling line for distribution in the UK and across Europe. The plant’s yearly brewing capacity was 2.35 million hectolitres (235 million litres).
Developer Reselton bought the brewery site in 2015 for £158m. Dartmouth Capital Advisors are currently developing plans for a mixed scheme consisting of residential, community, recreational and commercial use on the site next to the River Thames. The plant’s Steinecker brewhouse, fermentation block, chip cellar and bottling line, along with grain handling equipment, over a hundred 100-and-200-hectolitre brewing vessels, yeast plant and energy centre, will all be sold by private treaty. Hundreds of lots of ancillary assets will also be sold in an online auction on 16 January 2017 with an 11 January view day.
Jason Pinder, national head of machinery and business assets at Eddisons said: “The vast scale of the contents of this iconic brewery is likely to attract the interest of global brewing businesses as well as those in developing countries. This is a rare opportunity to invest in high quality, large capacity brewery plant. We expect high levels of interest in the plant and urge interested parties to contact us sooner rather than later”
To see the brewery, watch this video footage of Mortlake.