A week from today, leadership overseeing the Boston Beer suite of brands – most notably Samuel Adams beer – will present their Q1 earnings report. If recent hints by founder Jim Koch are any indication, there’s reason to suspect (conspiratorially or not) that it may not be all sunshine and roses.
The last few years have been tough for Boston Beer. Declining interest across a variety of brands accounted for a 7% drop in dollar sales for the Sam Adams portfolio in 2016, sentiment that has only continued into this year.
Through nearly the first quarter of 2017, Boston Lager dollar sales dropped around 8% compared to the same timeframe last year. Rebel, the IPA that was supposed to reinvigorate interest in the brand, got remade to start this year. It’s down 20% in dollar sales so far in grocery, convenience and other bread-and-butter stores for the company.
I, like many others, see Sam Adams as the brand that launched a lifetime of beer geekdom. But things are changing rapidly for the company. For longtime devotees, it’s not much for better as it is worse.