Beer is Suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder

Since 2009, Oregon’s Ninkasi Brewing has been producing Maiden the Shade, a “summer IPA” created to help celebrate an annual fair.

It recently received a new look, bringing it to my attention for the first time, thanks to East Coast selection bias and that peskiness of distribution. I can say nothing for the beer, having never had it, but the forethought of that brand sure caught my attention. In recent years, the prescience of the Pacific Northwest in regard to beer and love of all things hop seems like a future that had long been planned, but perhaps America’s love affair with IPA wasn’t always a guaranteed thing.

Either way, the idea of a “summer IPA” sounds pretty damned smart right about now.

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Who Are the Millennial Beer Drinkers? Part 2: Why Craft Beer is ‘The One’

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This week I’m working on posts to respond to a question posed by reader Briana, who took interest in my (now ongoing) series about the cross section of craft beer and Millennials, who range from 18 to 33.

Mainly, she was curious about whether or not young drinkers have an affinity for buying cheaper beer to get more, rather than spending extra money on craft beer and ending up with less.

The way we left things in my previous post showed that while buying cheap beer for the sake of binge drinking may certainly be a case for some Millennials, available data suggests it’s heavily skewed toward 18 to 24-year olds and most likely, college students.

So if that’s the case, let’s get back to the original question from Briana:

…why are the young, broke, and cool more interested in spending $5 or more on a craft beer when they could be buying a cheaper beer and getting more of it?

To me, there are actually several sociological and cultural patterns that may lend themselves to answering this question. Aside from the natural response, “because craft beer tastes better,” of course.
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Who Are the Millennial Beer Drinkers? Part 1: Do We Have a Problem?

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Tip of the hat to fearless reader, Briana, who chimed in on my previous post regarding Millennials and a preference for craft/local beer. That post, which ran down a list of reasons I believe locally-produced beer is the beer of choice for young drinkers, inspired these questions from Briana:

…why are the young, broke, and cool more interested in spending $5 or more on a craft beer when they could be buying a cheaper beer and getting more of it?

…ultimately their wallets are taking a bigger hit than their conscious on corporate responsibility ever will. While false advertising, local support, and the story all matter there is still something missing.

Specifically, Briana points out her interest in the habits of younger Millennials, which as a whole is an age group that spans 18 to 33 year olds. She asks about 21 to 26 year olds, with curiosity if the “main goal/instant gratification is getting drunk on a budget.”

Thanks to Briana for raising the issue and as I often do, I was tempted to dig deeper. While there may not be absolute, direct correlations to tie drinking patterns together, I do believe there’s a series of preferences and behaviors that leads us to a conclusion.

Let’s dive in…
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Why Local Beer is (More and More) a Young Person’s Game

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Because I have a hard time finishing a thought in just one post, I wanted to add something to my comments on AB InBev’s problem with Millennials.

While my original goal was to answer some of the “why” regarding young drinker’s lack of interest in Budweiser and Bud Light, it occurred to me that the other side should be examined – why are Millennials so damned interested in craft beer? Lots of reasons, surely.

Why are young, small craft breweries different than AB InBev? In a lot of ways, but when it comes to the main reason of my original piece – influence on Millennial-aged drinkers – I think today’s breweries are at an advantage because they HAVE to be open, honest and connected to succeed in a local marketplace. They rely on their community for financial support, but they also rely on them for word of mouth and emotional support.

drink_local_logoLocal is the name of the game now for food and drink. There’s a reason that Millennials – craft beers biggest fans – flock to brands their parents and grandparents aren’t as interested in.

When we say young people love craft beer, it’s easy to point toward key aspects of innovation and taste, both which are leaps and bounds (purposefully) above Budweiser or Bud Light.  But I’d argue that there’s more to it than that.
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Everything is the Milleinnials’ Fault Because They’re the Worst [Guest Post]

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The following is a guest post from Angry Old Man Next Door, who contacted me after reading Friday’s post about how Millennials are ruining things for Budweiser. The following is his unedited submission.

Look here, Mr. Drunk. At least that’s what I assume your name must be, given your inappropriate name for the Web Log.

I’ve got a bone to pick with you. I’d come talk to you in person, but you’re probably buried so DEEP in your mother’s basement you haven’t seen the light of day since you were born in 2003. It’s nice that you and your blogger “friends” have gotten off my lawn, but that doesn’t mean you have to ATTACK my way of life.

You see, Mr. Drunk, back when I was your age and not fighting any wars as part of the Greatest Generation, we had a choice of beer. Our choices were Schlitz or Budweiser AND WE LIKED IT. Now you and all your spoiled companions are complaining because those aren’t good enough for you. Because they won’t make for good PHONE CAMERA pictures taken on your mantle next to the 29 soccer trophies you earned for finishing in 6th PLACE – but you tried really hard! In my day, our cameras were OUR BRAINS and we’d remember EVERYTHING forEVER.

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This is what you kids are doing out back in the alley, aren’t you, Mr. Drunk?

I found your Web Log post because my grandson thought it was a hoot. Next time try not to write so long. It took me four hours to read the whole thing because the computer mice wouldn’t scroll. I remember when we didn’t have mice, we just had the written word printed on a page you COULD FEEL instead of ruining your eyes by looking at a screen for so long you’ll go blind. I hope your mother is delivering you carrots to the basement.

So you want to make fun of Budweiser for not being too HIP or COOL? I’ll tell you what’s “cool,” Mr. Drunk. Having to walk uphill both ways IN THE SNOW to get some Budweiser. Just like I did and the rest of the Greatest Generation. Don’t be so LAZY ordering beer on the interwebs. I don’t even know how they get you beer through all these TUBES. I had my great-grandson draw you a map of what I had to do, in case you couldn’t understand from all those HTMLs and Twitters you write all day:

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I bet you can’t even MAKE your own beer, Mr. Drunk. You’re probably too busy TWERKING and high fiving that Miley Cyrus while you two drink all the RED BULL. My great-grandson told me about Miley Cyrus. She sounds like a JEZEBEL.

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He drew that, too.

You talk big and highfalutin, but I know your type. You think you’re just living the dream in your mother’s basement, staring at your computer screen, damaging your thankless Millennial eyes, Mr. Drunk. All the CARROTS you can EAT and you sit around all day playing games and drinking $50 bottles of beer poured into a fancy glass by some man named PIERRE with a curly-Q mustache. You think Budweiser isn’t trying hard enough? I think they’re trying JUST FINE.

Next time you find it proper to disparage one of the GREATEST American businesses, think twice, Mr. Drunk. But don’t think twice about STAYING OFF MY LAWN.

I want to thank Angry Old Man Next Door for his perspective. If you’re interested in writing a guest post, drop me a line on Twitter. I’m @bryandroth.

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

AB InBev is (kind of) Losing and It’s All the Millennials’ Fault (Again)

lazy_senior_millennial_beer_drinkingClick here to read a “rebuttal” to this post.

The end is nigh!

At least that’s what we keep saying about Big Beer. As craft continues to eat up market share, macro breweries like AB InBev are clawing to try and maintain their hegemonic grip on the world of beer.

But as these Goliaths slowly begin to fall to the ground, they’re putting up a hell of a fight. Take for instance the most recent news out of Anheuser-Busch InBev, which announced this week it had invested $150 million to create a new, 16-ounce, resealable light metal bottle for Bud Light. In an age when beer drinkers are seeking craft beer because of the variety of tastes it provides, AB InBev is the tiger trying to change its stripes. (We’ve seen it before)

Here’s the thing. While sales of Budweiser and Bud Light slump and force AB InBev to look toward new ways of finding interest in their products, the bottom line is doing OK:

Volumes fell by 1.3% during the last quarter, but the company still delivered an increase of 3% in revenue for the period due to raising prices.

The number of units sold is decreasing, but AB InBev is finding new ways to pick up the slack. I kid you not, this is what Paul Chibe, vice president of U.S. marketing for AB InBev, said about plans for their new Bud Light bottle: consumers think the bottle is “more premium, more refreshing.”

And this brings me to my point: parents just don’t understand.
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Apple of Their Eye: Why Beer Companies are Getting Fruity

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Anyone hear the clinking of glasses coming from Boston a couple weeks ago? It wasn’t because the Red Sox are having a good season.

It’s because Boston Beer – the company that produces the Sam Adams brand of beer – is having a hell of a year financially. But it’s not just because of the new Sam Can.

Boston Beer announced their second quarter earnings Aug. 1 and they were good. The company showed a net revenue of $181.3 million, an increase of 23 percent from the same year-ago period and enough to get “Boston Beer” splashed across all sorts of headlines deeming the company’s stock as a top-notch investment.

But how did Boston Beer perform so well? Was it the Sam Can? Was it the release of fan-favorite Summer Ale? Was it a renewed interest in Boston Lager?

I’d argue it could have nothing to do with beer at all.
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The Ultimate Pairing? TV and Beer

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Forget pairing your IPA with Indian curry or dessert like carrot cake. Wouldn’t the hop-forward brew go well with an episode of Breaking Bad?

But wait, the show already has its own beer, courtesy of Albuquerque’s Marble Brewery:

To mimic the dark side of Walter White’s character, Heisenberg’s Dark is a 6.5% ABV Indian Black Ale. Brewmaster and Marble Brewery co-founder Ted Rice describes the beer to have a roasty malt profile and a lovely citrus punch courtesy of Australian Galaxy hops.

The family man side of White is represented through Walt’s White Lie, an India White Ale. The 7.5% ABV brew is a smooth and earthy malt base with big tropical notes from Galaxy hops.

Such is the marketing age we live in, where your most popular shows on television aren’t just destined for an life on DVD and Blu-Ray, but also in a bottle sitting in your fridge. When a show has millions of rabid fans, like Game of Thrones, why not capitalize? That’s what HBO and Ommegang did earlier this year with Iron Throne Blonde Ale:

HBO Global Licensing explained the partnership this way: “The collaboration between Ommegang and HBO is focused on developing truly unique beers that directly tie into themes, characters and nuances of the series of the medieval-like fantasy realm of Westeros and surrounding kingdoms.”

Of course, there’s also It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Dayman Coffee IPA.

I suppose where we once had “TV dinners,” now we have “TV beers.” In the fast-paced world of marketing and cashing in, the most important thing to consider is this: are these beers any good?
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