There are a number of great breweries that put craft beer on the map, but as this cool picture (from the fine folks at CraftBeer.com) shows, there are many more breweries that are helping to grow the industry. From local favorites to faraway finds, there is always a new beer style to explore and a new brewery to discover. What better way to get to know the industry than by grabbing a couple beers with good friends and talking about the latest craft beer news?
That’s why the Craft Brewing Business (CBB) crew gets together on Friday afternoons to have a beer and chat about our favorite stories from the week. But this isn’t a one-way conversation — we want to hear from you too! Let us know what stories caught your attention and what craft beer you’re looking forward to enjoying in the comments below. Cheers!
Jason Morgan, editor:
With more craft breweries getting into the game, trademark issues are quickly becoming one of the most important bases to cover when getting ready to launch your new brew. The proof is in the copy: Check out this story. Or this story. Or this story! But this trademark announcement had a different connotation — it shows off the positive side of how a trademark is used for protection. Rather than someone trademarking the ‘Boston Strong’ rallying call for profits, Boston Beer elected to trademark it and allow its use in situations where all the profits must go to charity. Very cool.
Craft Choice: Southern Tier Hop Sun
Keith Gribbins, editor:
I felt like AB InBev was pulling a Milli Vanilli this week when the company blamed its shrinking sales volumes in America on the rain (as well as taxes and consumer disposable income). It sounded like a cop-out for craft breweries stealing its market share. Well, according to the Beer Marketer’s Insights, the claim has some credence. The beer business overall in American was down 1.4 percent in the first quarter (according to Symphony IRI Group multichannel data), with an almost 10-point swing in trends between best and worst trending regions in America. Why? A lot apparently had to do with weather. For example, beer sales were up 2.5 percent in the West and down 6.7 percent in the Midwest for the first quarter. The critical beer market of Chicago had its wettest April on record, according to this AdvertisingAge article, and across the country, temperatures were down by almost 20 degrees in many areas during the first quarter, AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito said on the earnings call.
Of course, what’s not mentioned is the growth of craft beer. In an earnings conference call this week, Sam Adam’s Jim Koch mentioned that virtually all of the growth in the beer category is in high-end beers, which has caused a rush of big brewers with multiple entries trying to “premiumize” their portfolios. We quote the Koch: “We’d just be guessing but [the craft segment in the quarter grew] probably low double digits, somewhere over 10. So, it’s a very healthy growth. That would be just craft beer as defined by the Brewers Association, so not including what I would call the domestic specialty beers, the entrants from the large brewers, things like Blue Moon, Leinenkugel and Goose Island, et cetera, the craft brewers don’t include those.” In this case, we might say that the craft brewing industry is also making it rain.
Craft Choice: Dubhe Imperial Black IPA
Chris Crowell, editor:
This story has it all: Environmental impact, government cooperation, local business success and beer. a feel good report to head to the weekend. We report a lot on the growing popularity of craft brewing, and the waves of new brewers and the local ingenuity, and some times you step back and wonder, ‘are we too close the industry? Is it really making a dent the way we think it is?’ But then you see a story like this one, or the update on the Ohio craft brewing bill or the Tennessee tax changes or the other pro-brewing legislation that has popped up just this year, and you see that the larger populace is noticing. Governors and legislatures are inclined these days to alter the rules in order to help these fledgling businesses take root in local communities. The country as a whole might be deadlocked in a sequester, but we all seem to agree on the importance of beer. I’ll drink to that!
Craft Choice: Stone IPA
Sean Wright, developer:
I agree with the members of the Hawaiian Craft Brewers Guild, who spoke with us about the business and legislative issues they are dealing with. Specifically I believe that information about the products we purchase should be available to us as consumers. We wish to make our own choices when it comes to the marketplace and the businesses that provide us with goods and services but it is not possible to make an informed decision without knowledge of what we are purchasing. Enforcing breweries to label where their beer was brewed or produced will allow consumers to make these informed decisions. They will know who they are supporting and patronizing with their purchase.
As much as the craft beer scene is currently growing, it is still a very local or regional-oriented business model. That small brewery down that street is supporting its local economy and its patrons support it with this knowledge in mind. When I buy beer at the store I want to know where my money is going. By making point of origin labeling mandatory I won’t be mislead into believing the beer I’m drinking is coming from somewhere it isn’t, no matter how creative the marketing on the bottle gets.
Craft Choice: Crafted Artisan Meadery Blue Honey Melomel