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Craft Brew News

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Craft Brew News is your best source for the latest craft beer-related news, numbers and analysis. This lively, easy-to-read e-newsletter keeps subscribers up to date with the latest breaking stories alongside exclusive insight and perspective that only BMI can provide. Subscribe today to get the accurate, reliable and relevant info you need to compete effectively in this dynamic craft beer segment.

Craft Brew News

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Wiseacre sold “minority” stake to Memphis-based [financial firm/single-family office], Kemmons Wilson Companies, as part of upcoming project for eventual 100K bbls/yr brewery in Downtown Memphis (see last issue), co-founder Kellan Bartosch confirmed with CBN. Kellan and his brother/brewmaster/co-founder Davin remain majority owners, primary decision makers, and in charge of “day-to-day” operations, he assured. While co met with other potential suitors as well, locally-based Kemmons Wilson Cos had “a lot of mutual friends,” “were fans of what we did” and “realized we had an opportunity to grow.” Figure Out Potential Ceiling and Work Backwards; “Optimistic” and “Reasonable” After nearly maxing out capacity just a few yrs after opening, Wiseacre had to ask itself the “tough question”: “What is your ceiling?” and work backwards. Co realized it wasn’t trying to be the next 1 mil-bbl, or even 300K-bbl brewer, but a 100K bbls/yr brewery feels within reach, Kellan and co concluded. Then co hadda “figure out what makes sense” in terms of equipment and financing. “You want to be optimistic and reasonable,” particularly in this next phase of increased competition in craft. Co consciously avoided scenario of building “another small brewery” that it could potentially grow out of again in short order,…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2018
  • Volume 9
  • Issue # 107
Once upon a time, as craft was the it-segment across all off-premise alc bev categories, the magical mix-a-six pack offered that pesky promiscuous craft consumer the perfect chance to sample to his little heart’s content. But as craft slowed, grocery chains scrutinized their shelves, many reducing space for the complex pack if not cutting it altogether, resulting in notable decline. While not a perfect metric for mix-a-six packs, the IRI-tracked “Assorted” beer brand/vendor/segment provides a window into this trip from seemingly essential amenity for variety-seeking beer drinkers to frequently derided graveyard of dusty bottles. A way, way back in 2013, IRI’s “Assorted” beer, tracked alongside top-25 beer vendors, grew $$ sales 41.5% in grocery stores, hitting 0.33 share of total beer $$. Grocery store consumers spent more on assorted packs at near $10/6-pk than they did on Stone, Bell’s, Great Lakes or Dogfish Head beer, according to IRI data YTD thru 12/29/13. At that time, Assorted was the equivalent of the 5th largest craft brand, behind Sam Adams Seasonal, Sierra Pale, Fat Tire, Boston Lager and Sam Variety, bigger than Torpedo. It kept gaining thru 2014, +13% by $$ to 0.35 share of beer sold in grocery stores YTD thru…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2018
  • Volume 9
  • Issue # 105
More color and a lot more confidence included in full economic impact report on San Diego County craft brewers, released this week by CSU San Marcos and San Diego Brewers Guild. Recall, 130+ county craft brewers (excluding those acquired by larger brewers) contributed total of $1.1 bil in economic output last yr on $807 mil in gross revs and 1.1 mil bbls of beer produced (see Oct 12 issue). By May 1 of this yr, 148 brewing cos operated 178 brewing locations in SD County, report notes. That’s about 1/6 of the 900 breweries or so across Calif (during similar period). And TTB counted 1100 active brewery licenses in the state by end of 2017, report notes, up from less than 500 as recently as 2012. The 1.1 mil bbls produced by county craft brewers represented a little over 1/3 of the 3.29 mil bbls produced by all Calif craft brewers, according to report (again, not including about 1.5 mil bbls report estimates was produced in state at acquired brewers Lagunitas, Ballast Point, Golden Road, Saint Archer & 10 Barrel, which has brewpub in SD). Calif craft total basically flat, down about 10K bbls or 0.3% in 2017, but down…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2018
  • Volume 9
  • Issue # 103
Beer marketers have to step up their game, speakers repeated throughout the day at our Beer Insights Seminar on Monday. Somehow the consensus put a finer point to persistent, yet fuzzier concerns about “category health” and the beer industry’s difficulty growing overall volume. Lotsa questions raised during this week’s proceedings, but here’s another: how can, how will craft participate in fixing beer’s marketing problem? Craft’s biggest player shares same problem with the biggest players in US beer: its flagship beers are losing volume. And comments about improved marketing at the Seminar culminated in those from Boston Beer chairman Jim Koch (see yesterday’s issue). Jim, AB prexy Michel Doukeris and MC’s Pete Marino all shared hope that better mktg would help struggling Sam Adams, Bud and Miller/Coors brand families, respectively. In general, marketers “haven’t made beer as special as it could or should be,” Pete acknowledged. So the beer biz needs to “bring a little bit of magic back to beer.” What magic does craft have left up its sleeves? Individual companies and brands aren’t alone in these considerations. Meetings continue among trade assn leaders and many industry members, hoping to address overarching category concerns. But don’t hold your breath waiting…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2018
  • Volume 9
  • Issue # 101
Craft goes up against some easier comps thru the rest of 2018 in Nielsen all-outlet + c-store off-premise data. Recall, last yr the segment grew volume low-mid single digits thru the summer and early fall before spending most of the rest of 2017 flat-to-down in this data set. And that’s the good news. The bad news is that craft doesn’t have much momentum heading into that easier set of comps. Craft cases declined 1.9% for 4 wks thru Oct 20 in Nielsen scans. That’s better than for the 4 wks thru 10/13, but only by a tenth of a pt. Yr-to-date, craft volume still positive, but only by a tenth of a pt, +0.1%. Craft $$ down 1% for 4 wks, +1% YTD as avg price/case up 34 cents to $37.19. A key 2017 shift that sets up the segment for these easier late-2018 comps is revealed by analyzing the broad-brush dynamics in 4-wk top craft brand family trends across the back-half of each year. As Sept rolled on last yr, the combo of Blue Moon, Leinenkugel Shandies and Shock Top brand families slowed and, come Oct, slipped into decline, as the below charts show. As a group, those 3…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2018
  • Volume 9
  • Issue # 99
The number of breweries in Oregon has quadrupled in the last 15 yrs, but despite tougher competition and slowing overall sales, closures haven’t yet spiked in the state, according to recent post from OR’s Office of Economic Analysis. The brewery closure rate in the state has “barely budged” and hovered in the 2-4% range since 2008. Last yr, 6 breweries in OR closed, putting rate at just below 3%. At same time, the “All Firm Closure Rate” was more than double that, at just over 7%, the OR OEA estimates, which is down from about 10% in 2009, the peak of the Great Recession, but on par with last 6 yrs or so. “Slower growth can strain business finances, eventually leading to more closures or failures,” economist Josh Lehner wrote in post. But that hasn’t happened in OR. Yet? After massive uptick in the number of breweries, “we should see more closures given there are so many more potential places to run into issues – be they low sales, high costs, personal problems, or the like.” That may still be to come. But even with volume declines, “that does not mean the industry overall is unhealthy,” Josh argues. Say what?!?…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2018
  • Volume 9
  • Issue # 95
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