Thursday, February 5, 2015

Budweiser's Super Bowl Commercial and Craft Beer's Ridiculous Reaction



I did not want to write this article. I did not want to write this article because Budweiser's Super Bowl advertisement was not that big of a deal. It didn't deserve an article. I watched it live, cracked a wry smile and continued to watch the game. Never gave it a second thought. A late night check of my Twitter feed proved I may have been the only one in the craft beer community who felt that way. As a digital media company that caters to craft beer, our timeline exists solely of breweries, brewers, bars and writers from the craft beer community. I was stunned by the over the top reactions and opinions of just about everyone. I quickly sent out the following tweet and headed to bed.
Four full days later and there are still people talking about it and asking me to expand my opinion since I seem to be the lone outlier in my beliefs. Let it be known that this is not an article about Budweiser's Super Bowl Commercial but rather an opinion piece about the commercial, the craft beer community's reaction to the commercial, and a few big picture thoughts on the community at large.

Disclaimer #1: I am an unabashed supporter of good beer. Our website is dedicated to all of the “craft” beer producing companies in New York State.  I have spent an incredible amount of time championing the cause of these New York State brewers.

Disclaimer #2: There are a lot of beer writers and brewers that I have the utmost amount of respect for.  My disagreement with their thoughts and opinions are the basis for this article.  I feel that I can criticize their opinions strongly while still maintaining respect for their work. 

Point 1 – I do not find AB-InBev or any of the other macro beers to be the “enemy”.
I have a unique background when it comes to the craft beer vs. corporate beer culture. I am a business man by trade. I studied business. I work in business (sort of). I am a marketing guy.  I love great commercials. I appreciate businesses that have taken advantage of our capitalistic society and achieved success. Budweiser has become incredibly successful. Before the buyout they employed a large number of American workers (and still do). My goal here is not to turn this into whether or not AB-InBev is good for the American economy, but rather to express my appreciation of a successful business. Do large corporations play some dirty tricks? Sure. Payola for draft lines? All the time. Guess what, there are craft brewers who do the same thing.

Why do we hate success? You can see it in the “craft” beer community. Sam Adams? Saranac? “No thanks they don't brew anything good.” “They are too big.” Really? First, they brew some excellent beers. Secondly, why discourage success?

I have always hated the fallacy that just because something is bad, its counterpart must be good. It is not logical. It makes no sense. It is for that reason that I HATE slogans such as “No Crap on Tap” and “No Fizzy Yellow Beer”. OK, you do not serve any macro beers. Does that mean that everything else you serve is good by default? What if you do not clean your tap lines regularly? What if your beer is past its “serve by” date? There are a hundred factors that influence the quality of a beer. Just because it doesn't say Budweiser or Miller on the label means that it is good. I have had plenty of beers brewed by small independent brewers that were awful.

Do I enjoy any macro beers? Not really. Do they taste awful? No, they just don't taste like much at all. Flavored water if you will. Will I have one if there is nothing else or if the occasion is right? Yes, I will. Not often, but I will. I have had a very prominent, nationally know craft beer writer tell me in a casual conversation that if the conditions are right, Miller Lite is his all-time favorite beer. If I see someone enjoying a macro, I will suggest an alternative. If they don't want to try it I move on. If they try it and still prefer their usual then good for them. Personal tastes and different opinions. That is a good thing.

Point 2 – Craft Beer fans can be humongous hypocrites.
“I don't drink anything made by large brewers. I like to support local and small businesses.” Do you know how many craft beer snobs I have seen stop for a bite to eat at McDonald's on their way home from Wal-Mart in their Toyota?

Point 3 – The commercial and our massive little brother complex.
Did Budweiser attempt to promote their product by knocking craft beer? Yes, they did. The exact same thing that craft beer fans do when they knock macro beer (See Point 1: “No Crap on Tap”. See Point 2: Hypocrites).

Is Budweiser being hypocritical by knocking peach beer after buying a brewery that brews a peach beer? Yes, they are. Newsflash, Budweiser has dozens of labels and hundreds of beers in its portfolio. While the sales numbers of their core products are trending downwards, those core products still make up an incredibly large percentage of their sales. If they can increase sales of Budweiser and Bud Light while decreasing the sales of one beer brewed by one of their comparatively tiny subsidiaries, then they are all for that. The marketing people who made that commercial did so with the intent to sell more Budweiser and Bud Light. Their goal was not to promote every product in the portfolio.

I was the oldest of four siblings so there is nothing I hated more growing up than the little brother complex. Craft beer fans have this complex in spades.  Here is the fact of the matter:  

Sales of craft beer are up. Way up. There has been tremendous growth over a sustained period of time. Sales of macro beer are down. They have been trending downward for a sustained amount of time. Customers tastes are switching. Lawmakers are noticing. Everyone knows this. If you don't, craft beer fans will quickly show you a bar chart to prove it. I don't see craft beer vs. the macros as a battle, but plenty of people do. It is obvious to everyone including Budweiser. They know it, and that is the reason they made the commercial. Ten years ago, no macro beer company would even acknowledge the idea of flavorful beer. Now Miller is emphasizing the hops they brew with. Budweiser took a shot at peach beer (and bearded guys drinking dark beer out of a snifter).

My internal reaction was “Huh. Took a shot at beer nerds. Kind of funny.” I thought that would be the prevailing reaction, but I was very, very wrong.  Instead of laughing at the desperate attempt, the craft beer world reacted with outrage.  

Do I fuss over my beer? Of course. Our website has developed its own, incredibly complex rating system and has scored over 500 beers using that system. Are there times that I have no desire to rate a beer, but rather just pour and enjoy it for what it is? Countless times. Fuss over it. Don't fuss over it. Who cares? It is beer, it was invented to be enjoyed. Sip your Double IPA in your specially made IPA glass? Go for it. Pour your light beer into six red, plastic cups and throw ping pong balls into it? Be my guest. As long as you are doing it responsibly and not hopping behind the wheel to drive, I don't care. There is no right or wrong way to enjoy beer. There are just different ways. Let's lose the self-righteousness and just enjoy the beer you prefer.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spiegelau, Left Hand, and Rogue Ales Release New Stout Glass

April 3, 2014 - The new Spiegelau x Left Hand Brewing Company x Rogue Ales Stout Glass was developed over a yearlong series of design workshops and tasting panels led by Riedel crystal glassware owner Georg Riedel and Spiegelau VP, Matthew Rutkowski. Eric Wallace of Left Hand Brewing Company, Brett Joyce of Rogue Ales and experts from each brewery tested a selection of stouts ranging from Rogue Ales’ Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout to Left Hand Brewing Company’s Milk Stout.

Matthew Rutkowski shares, “Witnessing Stout beers explode onto the American craft beer scene was a light bulb moment for me… I realized we could do for Stout what we did for IPAs. Left Hand and Rogue are known leaders and innovators in the field of Stout brewing, so they were obvious partners, and I was thrilled when they wanted to get on board.”

Hundreds of glasses pulled from Spiegelau’s glassware archive were tested against a variety of the brewers’ own stouts with the ultimate challenge of finding a glass shape that had the most profound effect on the aromas and flavor profiles of each Stout beer.  After narrowing the archive glass options down to a handful of shapes, Spiegelau’s German factory created six, final prototypes for testing all stouts, varying by several millimeters in height, bowl width, angle and capacity. After many deliberations, Left Hand Brewing Company and Rogue Ales separately and unanimously determined that the Prototype “C” Stout glass delivered the optimal taste, aroma and mouth feel to enhance Stout beers. 

Brett Joyce of Rogue Ales shares, “John Maier, our brew master, was intimately involved with the tasting and selection process of the stout glass. His proprietary palate and knowledge of the ingredients used in brewing was essential in choosing the right glass to highlight the rich, roasted malts that we grow on Rogue Farms... The final glass that Spiegelau designed and we selected highlights the flavors and nuances of stouts best."
Eric Wallace, President and Co-Founder of Left Hand Brewing Company agrees, “At Left Hand, we are committed to constantly improving beer quality and the beer drinker’s experienceglassware that directly impacts beer flavor is yet another step towards our goal, and Left Hand Brewing is proud to be a part of this.” 

"Spiegelau is thrilled to have worked with both Left Hand Brewing and Rogue Ales in creating the world’s first stout-specific beer glass. Their expertise in the development of this unique glass was invaluable." - Matthew Rutkowski, VP of Spiegelau. 

 
Voluminous, open bottom glass base drives beer and aromatic foam upward into main bowl. Ultra-pure quartz material makes for unsurpassed clarity and flawless, true color presentation of stout beer
         Wider, conical bowl significantly amplifies aromas and also provides superior flow to mid palate, improving the taste, mouth feel and finish of complex stout beers
          Stark, angular shape and open base creates dramatic visual cascading effect into glass as beer is poured

Monday, March 31, 2014

Brewers Association Lists Top 50 Breweries of 2013

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Boulder, CO • March 31, 2014 - The Brewers Association—the trade association representing small and independent American craft brewers—today released its annual lists of the top 50 craft and overall brewing companies in the U.S., based on beer sales volume and the craft brewer definition in 2013¹. Of the top 50 overall brewing companies, 38 were small and independent craft brewing companies.

“In 2013, craft breweries reached new all-time highs in production volume and dollar sales,” said Bart Watson, staff economist, Brewers Association. “Beer lovers continue to demand high-quality, fuller-flavored and local beers from small and independent craft breweries.”

Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies
(Based on 2013 beer sales volume)

Rank
Brewing Company
City
State
Rank Change
1
Boston Beer Co.
Boston
MA
0
2
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Chico
CA
0
3
New Belgium Brewing Co.
Fort Collins
CO
0
4
Gambrinus
San Antonio
TX
0
5
Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Petaluma
CA
1
6
Deschutes Brewery
Bend
OR
-1
7
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Galesburg
MI
0
8
Duvel Moortgat USA
Kansas City & Cooperstown
MO/NY
N/A
9
Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn
NY
2
10
Stone Brewing Co.
Escondido
CA
0
11
Matt Brewing Co.
Utica
NY
-3
12
Harpoon Brewery
Boston
MA
-3
13
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Milton
DE
0
14
Shipyard Brewing Co.
Portland
ME
1
15
Abita Brewing Co.
Abita Springs
LA
-1
16
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Paso Robles
CA
4
17
Alaskan Brewing Co.
Juneau
AK
-1
18
New Glarus Brewing Co.
New Glarus
WI
-1
19
SweetWater Brewing Co.
Atlanta
GA
5
20
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Cleveland
OH
-1
21
Anchor Brewing Co.
San Francisco
CA
0
22
Long Trail Brewing Co.
Bridgewater Corners
VT
-4
23
Summit Brewing Co.
St. Paul
MN
0
24
Oskar Blues Brewery
Longmont
CO
3
25
Full Sail Brewing Co.
Hood River
OR
-1
26
Founders Brewing Co.
Grand Rapids
MI
4
27
Rogue Ales
Newport
OR
-5
28
Victory Brewing Co.
Downingtown
PA
-2
29
Ballast Point Brewing Co.
San Diego
CA
17
30
Ninkasi Brewing Co.
Eugene
OR
1
31
Southern Tier Brewing Co.
Lakewood
NY
6
32
Cold Spring Brewing Co./Third Street Brewhouse
Cold Spring
MN
-4
33
Flying Dog Brewery
Frederick
MD
-4
34
Odell Brewing Co.
Fort Collins
CO
-1
35
Stevens Point Brewery Co.
Stevens Point
WI
0
36
Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Cloverdale
CA
-2
37
Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe
Eureka
CA
1
38
Left Hand Brewing Co.
Longmont
CO
5
39
CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc.
Chattanooga & Louisville
TN/CO
-7
40
Breckenridge Brewery
Denver
CO
1
41
Karl Strauss Brewing Co.
San Diego
CA
-2
42
Blue Point Brewing Co.
Patchogue
NY
-6
43
Sixpoint Brewery
Brooklyn
NY
New
44
BJ's Chicago Pizza & Brewery, Inc.
Huntington Beach
CA
-4
45
North Coast Brewing Co. Inc.
Fort Bragg
CA
-3
46
Uinta Brewing Co.
Salt Lake City
UT
3
47
Allagash Brewing Co.
Portland
ME
1
48
Saint Arnold Brewing Co.
Houston
TX
-3
49
Gordon Biersch Brewing Co.
San Jose
CA
New
50
21st Amendment Brewery
San Francisco
CA
New





Top 50 Overall Brewing Companies2
(Based on 2013 beer sales volume)

Rank
Brewing Company
City
State
Rank Change
1
Anheuser-Busch Inc. (a)
St. Louis
MO
0
2
MillerCoors (b)
Chicago
IL
0
3
Pabst Brewing Co. (c)
Los Angeles
CA
0
4
D. G. Yuengling and Son Inc.
Pottsville
PA
0
5
Boston Beer Co. (d)
Boston
MA
0
6
North American Breweries (e)
Rochester
NY
0
7
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Chico
CA
0
8
New Belgium Brewing Co.
Fort Collins
CO
0
9
Craft Brew Alliance, Inc. (f)
Portland
OR
0
10
Gambrinus (g)
San Antonio
TX
0
11
Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Petaluma
CA
2
12
Deschutes Brewery
Bend
OR
0
13
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Galesburg
MI
1
14
Duvel Moortgat USA (h)
Kansas City & Cooperstown
MO/NY
NA
15
Minhas Craft Brewery (i)
Monroe
WI
-4
16
Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn
NY
2
17
Stone Brewing Co.
Escondido
CA
0
18
Matt Brewing Co. (j)
Utica
NY
-3
19
Harpoon Brewery
Boston
MA
-3
20
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Milton
DE
0
21
Shipyard Brewing Co. (k)
Portland
ME
2
22
Abita Brewing Co.
Abita Springs
LA
-1
23
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Paso Robles
CA
6
24
Alaskan Brewing Co.
Juneau
AK
0
25
New Glarus Brewing Co.
New Glarus
WI
1
26
SweetWater Brewing Co.
Atlanta
GA
7
27
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Cleveland
OH
1
28
August Schell Brewing Co. (l)
New Ulm
MN
-3
29
Anchor Brewing Co.
San Francisco
CA
1
30
World Brews/Winery Exchange (m)
Novato
CA
-8
31
Long Trail Brewing Co. (n)
Bridgewater Corners
VT
-4
32
Summit Brewing Co.
St. Paul
MN
0
33
Oskar Blues Brewery
Longmont
CO
3
34
Full Sail Brewing Co.
Hood River
OR
-1
35
Founders Brewing Co.
Grand Rapids
MI
6
36
Rogue Ales
Newport
OR
-5
37
Victory Brewing Co.
Downingtown
PA
-2
38
Ballast Point Brewing Co.
San Diego
CA
New
39
Ninkasi Brewing Co.
Eugene
OR
3
40
Southern Tier Brewing Co.
Lakewood
NY
8
41
Mendocino Brewing Co. (o)
Ukiah
CA
-3
42
Cold Spring Brewing Co./Third Street Brewhouse (p)
Cold Spring
MN
-3
43
Flying Dog Brewery
Frederick
MD
-3
44
Odell Brewing Co.
Fort Collins
CO
0
45
Stevens Point Brewery Co. (q)
Stevens Point
WI
1
46
Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Cloverdale
CA
-1
47
Pittsburgh Brewing Co. (r)
Pittsburgh
PA
-10
48
Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe
Eureka
CA
1
49
Narragansett Brewing Co.
Providence
RI
New
50
Left Hand Brewing Co.
Longmont
CO
New


The Association's full 2013 industry analysis, which shows regional trends and sales by individual breweries, will be published in the May/June issue of The New Brewer, available in May 2014.

For additional statistics, see the Brewers Association’s craft brewing statistics and 2013 craft brewer sales.

¹The definition of a craft brewer as stated by the Brewers Association in 2013: An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional. Small: Annual production of beer less than 6 million barrels. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition. Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer. Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewer's brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.

Note: The Brewers Association updated the craft brewer definition in 2014. The new definition can be found on the Brewers Association website and will be used to collect 2014 data, published in 2015.

2Top 50 U.S. Overall Brewing Companies notes: (a) includes Bass, Beck’s, Bud Light, Budweiser, Busch, Goose Island, Landshark, Michelob, Rolling Rock, Shock Top and Wild Series brands. Does not include partially owned Coastal, Craft Brew Alliance, Fordham, Kona, Old Dominion, Omission, Red Hook and Widmer Brothers brands; (b) includes A.C. Golden, Batch 19, Blue Moon, Colorado Native, Coors, Keystone, Killian’s, Leinenkugel’s, Miller and Tenth & Blake brands; (c) includes Pabst, Schlitz and 28 other brand families; (d) includes Alchemy & Science and Sam Adams brands; (e) includes Dundee, Genesee, Labatt Lime, Magic Hat and Pyramid brands; (f) includes Kona, Omission, Red Hook and Widmer Brothers brands; (g) includes BridgePort, Shiner and Trumer brands; (h) includes Boulevard and Ommegang brands; (i) includes Mountain Crest and 10 other brand families; (j) includes Flying Bison, Saranac and Utica Club brands; (k) includes Casco Bay, Sea Dog and Shipyard brands; (l) includes Grain Belt and Schell’s brands; (m) private label brands, primarily for grocery store chains; (n) includes Long Trail, Otter Creek, The Shed and Wolaver’s brands; (o) includes Butte Creek, Kingfisher, Mendocino and Olde Saratoga brands; (p) includes Cold Spring and John Henry brands; (q) includes James Page, Point and Whole Hog brands; (r) includes Iron City and 17 other brand families.

# # #


About the Brewers Association
The Brewers Association is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The Brewers Association (BA) represents more than 70 percent of the brewing industry, and its members make more than 99 percent of the beer brewed in the U.S. The BA organizes events including the World Beer Cup®, Great American Beer Festival®, Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America®, SAVOR℠: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The New Brewer magazine and its Brewers Publications division is the largest publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today's craft brewers and homebrewers.

Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at CraftBeer.com and about homebrewing via the BA's American Homebrewers Association. Follow us on Twitter.

The Brewers Association is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital/familial status. The BA complies with provisions of Executive Order 11246 and the rules, regulations, and relevant orders of the Secretary of Labor.