Friday, December 7, 2007

Craft Beer question follow up

I have got a lot of great emails and posts and even blogs on the subject I broached the other day regarding what is a "craft" beer these days. Then I see an article that was published today regarding the advertising of BIG beer and what they are doing to change it. Here is just a snippet from the article in Forbes.
But now comes the ultimate irony. For years, makers of small-batch "craft" beers have been chipping away at the market share of the three beer giants. Now the big brewers are playing the same game. But this time, they avoid using the parent company's name on the labels for their craft beers. Anheuser-Busch (nyse: BUD - news - people ), for example, lists Green Valley Brewing Co. as the maker of Wild Hop Lager. Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. is owned by SABMiller PLC. Blue Moon Brewing Co. is a subsidiary of Molson Coors Brewing Co. (nyse: TAP - news - people )

And without their big brand names, the retail sales of these big company craft beers grew nearly three times the rate of the real craft beers.

Does that mean that the big brewers have at long last seen the errors in their line extension ways?

This guy didn't hit on what we discussed but he did hit on the subject a little and how the advertising they did increased their sales of their "craft" beers 3 times faster than real craft beers. Granted, when you have the distribution channels it is pretty easy to do, but if you don't sell it, it really doesn't matter. The main point of the article was that they (BMC) has long confused it's buyers with the company name being in the lead of every style, i.e. Bud Light, Bud Select, Bud Ice. After awhile the consumer gets confused and just picks one to buy. I would say it wouldn't matter because they all taste the same, or don't taste at all.

One of the best suggestions from a couple people have been to just educate the consumer on sites like this and in public forums (bars) on what is a craft beer and what makes it craft in nature. It would be pretty easy to argue that even Boulevard, Sam Adams and New Belgium have reached beyond that artisanal quality that is craft and into micro status, not that that is a bad thing, but you see the dilemma. Anyway, enjoy the article.

1 comment:

CJ said...


I think there is a big difference IMHO between "craft" beer, and small batch "artisanal" beer. I personally believe that Sam Adams and New Belgium produce a quality product. Those two breweries may not be pushing the envelope, but they produce quality beer.

Beer, to me anyways, is not JUST about small batches and exclusive tastings! Beer can be good even when made in huge batches. I have drank beer from some of the biggest names in the world, and in thier back yards. Some of those breweries produce a product that is not that distinctive. But some of those breweries produce pure excellence.

Examples include stuff from InBev as being generally not that distinctive. But drinking Pils in the Czech Republic is a heavenly experience. And drinking Brains Cask ales less than 3 blocks from the brewery in Wales is pretty darn ok too IMHO.

Small batch artisanal beers offer the drinker something different and distictive though. Drinking small batch beers is like an adventure in each and every glass. Some times you hit pay dirt, and sometimes you would rather eat dirt. Overall, I think that small batch brewers consistantly keep the drinker coming back for more. But not always.

My point is that some folks drink craft or artisanal beer for the "I am different" perspective, and some people drink craft beer because they feel as if they are "more sheek" or "somehow superior". But I drink good beer because life is just too darn short to drink BMC products. But, we have to remember that in America the majority drinkers don't see things the way that we do on this blog. But things are slowly changing in this country.

On a counter point. I would challenge all readers of this blog to read the book Ambitous Brew, by Maureen Ogle. It may surprise you all to learn that Anheiser Busch won many awards for thier name sake product when it was first released. And that Budweiser is modeled after a Czech beer called Budweiss. And that the dumbing down of American beer had more to do with a Great Depression and two World Wars, rather then the greed of a few beer barons.

But anyways...I will get off my soap box now.

Peace out