seasonality & Local sell Well
Tapping into holidays, annual events
and mark-your-calendar sporting events
is a proven way to promote beer sales.
According to Lori Oliver, bar manager
at the Applebee’s in Kingston, NY,
50-cent wings paired with a tall $2.99
beer was a winner during football sea-
son. More recently, the restaurant
group featured a popular 2-for-1 pro-
motional program, which, interestingly,
included Magic Hat, micro-brewed
in Vermont.
For artisanal-minded beer drink-
ers, seasonality is not about sports, but
rather limited-time offerings that liter-
ally mark the season—stronger, richer
winter ales and lighter, crisper summer
brews are just two examples. For its part,
Heineken USA has been promoting
a quartet of Newcastle brews stateside
since 2011: Newcastle Summer Ale, a
golden beer offering “a subtle citrus hop
aroma;” Newcastle Werewolf, a fall ale,
“blood red” in color; Newcastle Winter
IPA (“full-bodied and hoppy”); and
Newcastle Founder’s Ale, a “full-bodied
ale with a sweet and dry finish.”
In Saratoga Springs, NY, where horse
racing takes center stage every summer,
Niall Roche, owner of The Irish Times
pub and restaurant, naturally features a
variety of classic Irish brews and dishes
for racing fans. But, knowing that a large
proportion of visitors over the summer
arrive in Saratoga Springs specifically to
soak up the local scene, in addition to
Guinness, Harp’s and Smithwick’s on
draught, the pub also features a rotation
of upstate New York crafts, including
Davidson Brothers IPA and Saratoga
Oatmeal Stout.
Bob Kreston, owner of Kreston
Liquor Mart in Wilmington, DE,
says, “Throughout the holidays last
year, we did frequent in-store tastings,
price promotions, and we especially
featured local beers.” He reports that
while “Bud, Miller and Coors held
their own, our selection of seasonal
beers, especially during the football
season, performed strongly, including
Dog Fish from Delaware, Sam
Adams, Fordham and Dominion, the
latter two also from Delaware.” He
adds, “Craft beers now account for
25% of our beer sales, and they’re
attracting wine buyers too, who love
to experiment.”
And Dave Kunkel, manager and
beer buyer at Gold Eagle Liquors in Lib-
ertyville, IL, just outside Chicago, says
don’t forget the summer: that’s when his
Corona sales are strong. His impression
is that younger legal-age drinkers gravi-
tate to craft beers, while, all other things
being equal, older drinkers favor light
beers, including Coors Light, Bud Light
and Heineken Light.
he craft movement
clearly has caught
the attention of
large brewers: 2012
saw a number of big-
name extensions and
innovations. This bodes
well for the industry
overall as high-profile
launches cast a halo of
vibrancy. In fact, 2013 has
already brought more novelty.
To wit, Budweiser Black
Crown, a new specialty amber
brew with 6% ABV, kicked
off, so to speak, with a 30-
second commercial
during the Super
Bowl. Senior Brand
Manager Nate Scudieri
explains that Black
Crown was developed
via “Project 12,” a nearly
year-long process wherein 12
prototypes from Budweiser
brewmasters across the
U.S. were presented to
25,000 consumers at 600
events. “Black Crown was
the overwhelming favorite
of consumers at all stages of
this process,” says Scudieri,
and “84 percent of people
who try the beer want to buy
it.” The target market, he
adds, is “21- to 34-year-olds,
trendsetters and people who
want variety.”
Among the other
notable debuts of late:
Heineken’s taller,
slimmer makeover
of its flagship bottle;
and Bud Light’s
cobalt blue Platinum bottle—
now also in cans. Beck’s
newest beer, Sapphire,
is a golden pilsner (6%
ABV), brewed with German
Saphir hops, which are
traditionally used as a
finishing or conditioning
hop and contribute a
distinctly smooth finish. Pilsner
Urquell changed nothing with
its beer, but developed new
packaging and a new shipping
system to ensure freshness.
And Diageo created TV ads
to capitalize on momentum
for Guinness Black Lager
(launched in 2011).
In an original crossover
project, Wild Turkey teamed
up with Anderson Valley
Brewing to create bourbon-
barrel-aged craft brews.
Perhaps the most unusual
debut of all is MillerCoors’
Vintage Ale Collection;
two new wheat beer–wine
hybrids, Proximity and
Impulse, gaining an
added dimension from
Sauvignon Blanc and
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes,
respectively, are rolling out
nationally in 2013. These
follow in the footsteps of
2011’s Chardonnay-based
Blue Moon Vintage Ale.
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