what’s
brewing
B
eer’s free fall is over. Last year’s
retail sales—projected to hit
$100 billion for the first time
in U.S. history—reversed
three straight years of volume declines,
according to data compiled by the Beer
Institute. Driven by increasing sales of
hundreds of craft and artisanal brews in
all 50 states, 2012 volume rebounded
from depressed levels, notwithstanding
stable sales, or slight declines, for
mainstreambrands including Bud,Miller
and Coors, which together still account
for more than a 75% share of U.S.
beer volume.
Meanwhile, craft beers were up in
strong double-digits in 2012 and are on
track to account for a record 8% share
of the total U.S. beer market, accord-
ing to Charlie Papazian, founder and
president of the Brewers Association.
The strength of the craft/micro move-
ment was also manifested last year in
start-ups: the number of “active brewers”
in the U.S. hit 2,751 as 250 more new
breweries opened in 2012. The Brewers
Association predicts that crafts, micro
and artisanal brands could more than
double their present share of the U.S.
beer market by 2017.
Big brewers are well aware of the
craft-ification sweeping Beer Nation,
and it’s not such a bad thing. “I think
[the craft beer revival has] woken up
a lot of folks who have not considered
beer and is bringing them into the
category,” Tom Long, chief executive
at MillerCoors, told the
Wall Street
Journal
recently. Indeed, perhaps even
more significant than the debut of
scores of new micro labels in 2012 was
the carefully cultivated introduction
of new expressions and packages by
established brands (see sidebar on
opposite page).
Canned Heat
The craft beer boom is certainly borne
out by the experiences of retailers
across the nation. “People are trading
up to micros and craft beers,” says Jason
Galpin, beer buyer at Liquor Depot in
New Britain, CT. Noting the improv-
ing economic picture locally, Clark adds,
“Bud is strong, Coors Light is always a
big seller, so are Heineken and Corona,
but we now have 250 SKUs of micros
and crafts.”
The latest trend, Galpin notes, is
the arrival of artisanal brews packaged
in aluminum cans. “Customers love the
convenience, especially during summer
and for picnics.” (Cans, first developed
in 1935, now account for for about 52%
of all beer sold in the U.S.) Galpin also
cited the growing popularity of large
bottle format bottles, which he dubs
“bombers.” These are 22-ounce bottles of
brands like Lagunitas, Sam Adams and
Sierra Nevada as well as a full range of
Belgium imports, which retail from $5
to $12.
At B-21, a full service wine, liquor
and beer retailer in Tarpon Springs,
FL, near Tampa, “Craft beers are what
customers are coming in and looking
for,” says Justin Hammer, vice president
and co-owner. To stimulate trial and
sales, Hammer says the store conducts
beer tastings every Saturday. The store
recently expanded its artisanal beer sec-
tion to 500 different brews.
Beer Outlook: 2013
Mainstream Brews Rebound & Innovate
As Craft Labels Energize the Market
By dAvId LInCOLn ROss
BOTTOMS
UP
Change in U.S. beer shipments
from previous year
(12-month rolling average)
Source: Beer Institute
3%
2%
1%
0
-1%
-2%
-3%
2007 ’08 ’09 ’10 ’11 ’12
AUGUST
19 million barrels
+1.4%
1...,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43 45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52,53,54,...92