Tag Archives: beer economics

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 1/28/16

The week moves on and Thursday is here.  This has always been a weird day to me.  The week is almost over, but not quite.  You still have to work the next day, but you know the atmosphere is a little more relaxed.    Anyway, with legislative sessions around the country getting started this month, there is a lot of movement in the beer law front. To continue yesterday’s theme, here are a few articles on beer and alcohol laws around the country.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 1/27/16

Yesterday, I had every intention of doing the Five Articles, however, the events of the night before prevented me from having the mental acuity or consciousness to put together a string of sentences with any coherence whatsoever.  So, to get back into the groove today, I’m going to offer a roundup of beer law stories.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 1/15/16

The Five Articles are a little late this morning, but here they are.  This is the first day this year, where I had more articles than I had slots.  That is a good feeling.  The world is starting to right itself after the holiday season.  Onto the list.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 1/13/16

Laws and legislation.  Growing pains and adolescence.  One of the things that fascinate me about Major League Soccer is that we sports fans, specifically soccer fans, get to watch a top flight league grow and develop in real time.  It is a messy and confounding thing to watch.  There are 10 steps forward, two backwards, and three sideways at every phase of growth.  Craft beer is kind of in the same position.  Actually, a better analogy might be a band.  Bands form and they play any show they can get and they sell music directly to potential fans and develop a loyal and strong following if they are good.  Then, at some point, they go from being the little band that could to headlining their first tour.  Then, they stop being just a band and become a business and they have business worries. That is where craft beer is now.

  • Should the state of North Carolina be in the alcohol business? First, the state is tasked by the US Constitution to regulate alcohol in its borders, so the state will be involved in some capacity always. Second, if you want to change thegovernment’s level of involvement, good luck.  That is a decades-long fight that no one has the stomach for right now.  Politicians do things for two reasons.  The first, to get their name associated with a bill that will create jobs and/or increase tax revenue.  The second, to keep from being embarrassed.  Unless and until, OMB, NoDa, and Red Oak can prove that allowing them to self-distribute more than 25000 barrels a year the legislation will languish in committee. In this case, embarrassment isn’t working because the distributors and big beer give enough money to make it not work.
  • The point in your life when you realize you are at least partially a grown us is when you are faced with a decision between doing what you need to do to be responsible and doing what you want to do. When you start choosing the need to do direction you’re a grown up.  Breweries suing smaller breweries over potential intellectual property issues is a need to do situation.  This is my second prediction of what will happen this year in craft beer, craft beer will grow up and increasingly think of itself as a business.
  • At no point in this article is there any mention about how any “beer” that they make tastes and that is why they will never win. They don’t care about the beer as beer.  It is only a product to be sold.
  • This is one case where embarrassment is working. The Georgia legislature passed a law that was written in part by big distributors.  It has a Rube Goldberg feel to it that got exposed by the Department of Revenue.  Now they are trying to fix it.
  • Alabama steps into the 21st century as far as its beer laws are concerned. The craft beer people in Alabama did exactly what I said you have to do.  They appealed to the legislators with more revenue and jobs.  Politicians work to get reelected.  Doing things that make them look good and/or raise tax revenues without raising taxes and provide jobs is how they get reelected.  Either that or carrying the water for a lobbyist that gives them lots of money to go their reelection.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 1/5/16

I’m back at home from Asheville.  There will be a blog post summarizing the trip with photos.  There was no Five Articles yesterday because I didn’t find five articles worth writing about.  Then I got back home and slept. I start my study for the Cicerone today as soon as this is posted.

  • This saddens me. I love Ska’s beer, but this is what happens when you the number of breweries in your state explode like North Carolina.  Ska isn’t one of the huge names in brewing.  The average person who is just coming to craft beer in North Carolina has not heard of Ska Brewing. Out of state breweries like Ska, Mad River, or Alpine have a hard hill to climb to just get their foot in the door right now.
  • Here is a nice beer and cider release and event calendar for western NC and Upstate SC.
  • I honestly do not understand everyone’s fascination with party bikes. I look at them and see lots of people getting seriously injured to do something wholly unnecessary and stupid.
  • I’ll be interested to see how this works because I have questions. At what level of beer sales must you get to in order to participate in this keg program? There is no way it can involve self-distribution, which means this will only involve third party distributors of mostly big brands. I think it will simplify their lives, but no one else’s.
  • Why did it take 12 years for someone to buy this place and start renovating it? I don’t understand how municipalities let huge tracts of land and abandoned building stay dormant for so long. Those spaces, sitting empty, add no value of any kind and they usually look horrible.  From seeing this happen in other places, I think one of two things delays getting the are renovated.  In a perfect situation, there are too many people with too many ideas and not enough money competing.  In the bad situation, the property owners think what they have is worth more then it actually is and make unreasonable demands.  Eventually, someone gets enough money to make something happen and/or the property owners figure out it’s better to sell then keep paying taxes on empty space.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 12/22/15

The news gets lighter and lighter as Christmas gets closer and closer.  Today or tomorrow will be the last day most people have to work, so expect me to get experimental tomorrow and Thursday.  Friday may not see a Five Articles, but it will see something I’ve been working on for a few weeks.  Also, expect a new beer review tomorrow morning.

  • At least once a week, someone at some newspaper or local television station in this country runs an article about pints are not really pints and how consumers are getting screwed out of 3 ounces every time they get a beer. Almost every time at the heart of this complaint is a retired litigator who has a lot of money and time to worry about the 2 ounces he loses every time he gets a beer.  Here is that story from Asheville this week.
  • A Beer Institute economist says the beer industry is doing just fine. Of course, he does.  Even if the beer industry was cratering, an economist at the largest beer industry lobbying group would not say it was doing badly.
  • I’m always interested in where chefs like to eat and what beers brewers like to drink. Those are usually the best places to for a good meal and the best beers to drink. Here is a year-end brewers’ best of list.
  • Bon Appetit, five months late on reporting on the hard root beer fad. Good job, good effort.
  • I honestly don’t know why this didn’t happen sooner. Abita has been producing a good root beer for ages. As soon as they heard about the Not Your Father’s Root Beer, I expected them to start producing their own.  The advantage they will have is they make more than just a hard root beer.  That way when that market segment finishes its collapse, they can just move on back to what they do best. Here is their press release on their hard soda series.

The One Beer Article I Needed To Read And Why, 12/14/15-12/20/15

If you visit this blog often, especially in the last few weeks, you have seen posts about some changes to the posts and the schedule of posts I am planning for this space.  The reasons I want to make these changes are I am trying to make this site more thought-provoking and making myself do slightly different things in order to push my beer knowledge.  Also, I’m always looking to keep myself from getting bored by looking at beer and the industry that surrounds it.

As part of that, today is the first Sunday where there won’t be a Five Articles.  Instead, it will be a commentary or more in-depth look at the article that piqued my interest the most from the week.  In 500 words or so, I want to look at the story and explain why it interests me so much.

There were two articles that I was really interested in and read multiple times this week. One of which I won’t necessarily write about, but I will use the ideas expressed in it in a more conscious and mindful way as I taste beer.

The article I want to write about today is this one from The Coloradoan about New Belgium Brewing’s reported valuation and what it means.

We are in an important moment in the ongoing history of American Craft Beer.  The initial wave came and crested from the late-1970s to the mid-1990s.  From the wreckage of that initial bubble, the brewers most committed to quality and flavorful beer survived and newer brewers who learned from the mistakes of those before them, emerged.

One of those new and emerging brewers was New Belgium.  Since its founding in 1991, New Belgium has become one of the leading lights in the craft beer movement.  So much so that the Brewers Association has changed its definition of craft brewer to make sure New Belgium (and other similarly sized breweries) stay in the fold.

So, when the news New Belgium was requesting a valuation of the company’s total worth, many in the craft beer world were taken back.

Initial hot takes were that the company is looking to sell.  That may be true, but it isn’t necessarily what is happening.

The thing that interested me most about this article itself was how it framed New Belgium as a company in transition in an industry in transition.  Both the company and industry seem to be going through the same growing pains at the same time.  New Belgium is in the midst of a leadership transition and two major expansions at the same time the industry is exploding and being raided by big beer.

The other thing that interested me in the coverage of this story was the reaction to the story.   Maybe because this is only a valuation. Maybe the craft beer world is getting over its adolescent view of business.  However, the reaction was rather muted. Usually, craft beer people don’t think of craft as a business.  They think of it as some kind of calling to battle crappy beer. In his new book, The Beer Bible, Jeff Alworth describes it as pirates fighting against the evil big beer. On one hand, that romantic ideal is what makes craft beer so special.  On the other hand, it has little to do with the actual business of beer.

We will learn quickly how much the craft beer world has grown up when New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, or Boston Beer sells.  Either, social media will melt down or people will have really good discussions about what Craft Beer 3.0 will look like.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 12/19/15

As Christmas approaches, you would think the news would slow down, but no.  Craft beer Twitter got a big hit yesterday in the middle of the morning as some New Belgium news dropped.  Then AB continued its buying spree.

  • “Hey, our beer sucks, but look at the shiny new can!” I will say again, if this company would spend as much money on making the beer it actually owns better instead of on shiny new things that have nothing to do with the beer, they wouldn’t have to go around buying brewers that actually make good beer.
  • Cicerone.org presents its 11th Master Cicerone. At some point in the next say 5 years, this is one my goals.  First, I want to get Cicerone certified by the end of this year.  I’m not worried about the written and practical parts of the exam (I am going to start studying in earnest in 13 days) as much as I’m worried about the tasting session.  Developing my palate has been a lot of what I’ve been doing this past year. Wish me luck.
  • I was sitting and relaxing with a cup of coffee before heading into Craft for the day when on my Twitter timeline dropped a link to a Reuters report that New Belgium is looking to find a buyer after getting a valuation of $1 billion. I don’t know what that means.  Are they going to sell or are they looking for outside investors?  What it does show is that it is a brewer in a hugely transitional point in its history.
  • Meanwhile, AB continues picking off low hanging fruit. I always love when the people selling say, “This will change nothing.  We will continue to make the same high-quality beer we always have.” AB didn’t buy you for you to keep doing things the way you always have.  They bought you to bring you into the Borg Collective.  You have been assimilated.  Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but you will become part of the whole.
  • First, it’s about college football. Second, it’s about craft beer.  Third it has my alma mater sitting at #3.  There was no way this was not going to get linked in the Five Articles.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read and Why, 12/18/15

The Friday before Christmas means many, many Christmas parties.  We had 4 at once last night.  If you’ve been to Craft, you know it’s not that big.  Anyway on to the Five Articles.  It is the end of year and writers are looking back at the year in beer.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 12/17/15

Today’s Five Articles coming at you like a 1980s mobster in New York shaking you down for protection money.  That may seem like a forced analogy until you read two of the articles and realize that is exactly what they talk about from a corporate sense.

  • We start in Charlotte where a local restaurant chain, Queen City Q, has pulled all AB products from its 4 locations. Why? Because AB is running pay for play at bars and restaurants across the country. They call it “marketing” but really it’s just, “We’ll give you an extra $10000 if you let us keep 5 taps all year.”  Normally, I try to be more circumspect in my accusations like this, but I know this stuff is true and it happens.  Here is my whole problem with AB: It is a large multinational company that may as well make widgets.  They ultimately don’t care about the quality of their beer product they just care if people buy it.  That is the difference between them and almost every craft brewer.  The craft brewer wants people to buy his/her product but wants to win that market share through quality beer and not marketing.
  • This is tangentially about beer but stay with me. Most breweries and craft beer bars have live music at least once a week.  They also play music over their speaker systems during the day. Recently, shakedown artists from music publishers have been going around to breweries and bars demanding money if they have live music.  This is literally a shakedown.  It is, “give us an exorbitant amount of money or we will sue you.”  I am a person who never used Napster and has paid for every bit of music he owns, so I think artists should get paid for their work. However, these thick-necked jerks don’t work for the artists, they work for the publishers, groups who have historically been the ones screwing artists.
  • Here is an article about some cool and overpriced gadgets that will improve your beer enjoyment about 2%. Except for the Pico.  The Pico is awesome and I want one.
  • Here is a good list of beer books you can get for Christmas presents or to complete your own library. The list comes from craft beer people in and around Richmond.  I can say I own most of these books already.
  • The only time I am ever really annoyed at customers is when they come in and ask me which beer has the highest ABV. They are looking to get drunk and that is it.  If you want to do that, there are many more efficient and cheaper ways to go about it.  I am of the pub culture. I want to sit and drink and ponder over a balanced highly flavored beer.  I want to actually taste the beer.  I want to notice the color, the head, the clarity, the aroma, the mouthfeel, and all the other things that go into actually tasting a beer.  That is even if I’m just sitting in a bar.  In those situations, I still take the time to look, smell, and taste the entirety of the beer.  This is one of the many areas of life in which I think I was born in the wrong time and in the wrong place.