Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Beer Innovation - or - Better Living Through Chemistry

Oh dear...

Here is the latest from the Wall Street Journal in beer-y products brought to you by the find food scientists and marketers at MolsonCoors. Good luck to them.

But what struck me is this little quote from the article:

Beer still controls about half of the U.S. "throat share" in alcohol. But liquor now has roughly a third after having gained 5.4 and 6.4 percentage points of market share in revenue and volume since 2000, respectively, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. Wine also has been winning over more drinkers.

At the same time, smaller craft brewers have been swiping consumers from bigger brands, often with novel flavors such as strawberry buckwheat honey or bourbon-barrel-aged beer.

Say what? Yes, craft beer companies do lots of interesting experimental beers, but these are not what are kicking the ass of macro brewers. Ask any craft brewer and inevitably they will have a beer, like Sierra Nevada Pale, Sam Adams Lager, some IPA or pale ale that accounts for 75 to 80% of total sales.

It is these mainstream, but more flavorful and interesting beers that are stealing the market share from macro brewers, not experimental orange peel-ginger-ginko beer. Interestingly, instead of really committing to making reasonable competitors to these beers, they choose to identify the hard liquor manufacturers as the competition.

This also raises another question, will macro beers slowly evolve into malt liquor novelty beverage manufacturers? Can a Fluffed Marshmallow Flavored Coors be far behind?


jessibeaucoup said...

I'm kind of bothered by the idea of comparing Iced Tea Coors Light to the creative and innovative small batch things that craft brewers produce. Not to mention that it sounds absolutely putrid... but it is, as your title implies, obviously something that they came up 'through chemistry' to try and get sales. I like to think, even if it may be naive, that most craft beers start in a more organic manner and with the emphasis on making new, good beers. That is at least my goal when I'm homebrewing... that and getting rave reviews from my friends!

Jack R. said...
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