Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thoughts on AB InBev Acquisition of 10 Barrel Brewing

The recent acquisition of 10 Barrel Brewing Company by AB InBev has brought to my mind several thoughts and questions.  First one is what does this mean for true Craft Beer?  Also is this the snowball rolling downhill, meaning we will see more and more acquisitions by AB InBev or SAB Miller?  Will this become the norm?  Good craft breweries building up their brewery sales to a certain point and then selling when it becomes realistically to expensive to expand.  Are there too many craft breweries currently?  Will the new craft breweries that are opening or planned just adding to the concern that there will be a crash of craft brewery marketplace?

At first blush my thoughts were negative towards the recent acquisition, thinking that AB InBev is trying thwart the continued double digit growth of craft beer anyway possible.  That they see their balance sheet going the wrong way, their core brands continue to see shrinking sales.  So like any other capitalistic company they search for a new way to expand their sales.  AB InBev is making these acquisitions to affect the bottom line and keep the stockholders happy.  They have not become the largest brewing company in the world by mistake.

I also had a point of view that I never thought of by someone on Facebook.   That the craft breweries that are being purchased are gaining as much benefit from AB InBev as AB InBev from the craft breweries.  Meaning that the craft breweries gain in purchasing resources and expertise in brewing from AB InBev.  The craft brewery can now purchase resources in quantities they never could before.  Also the brewers at these craft breweries can lean on the expertise of the brewers from AB InBev.  The on thing no one can argue about is the brewers at AB InBev are the master of brewing consistent beers.  Budweiser taste the same anywhere you go in the US or the world.

With that said, by definition of Brewers Association the craft Breweries AB InBev are no longer craft breweries. They are making the same beer as they did before, but now being owned by AB InBev they are out of the category.  Breweries such as Goose Island, Red Hook, Kona, Windmer and others are making beers that taste as good as ever, they just are craft beers anymore.

The numbers of craft breweries are larger than any other time and many more are opening soon or are on the drawing board.  I am sure the continued double digit growth of craft beer is behind this growth.  This also seems to have lead to many people speculating that the craft beer industry is due for a crash at any time.  This may certainly happen, but I think that the growth will continue to the unprecedented evolution of the beer drinker.  Leaving their "Dad's Beer" behind and switching to beers that are more exciting to them. 

As more and more craft breweries are out there and they continue to grow, expect to see more of them become part of AB InBev or SAB Miller.  It only makes good business sense to the craft brewer to sell out so they can expand.  Like any other industry there will be consolidation if there is money to be made.  Also the craft brewer makes a pretty penny by selling to one of the big guys. 

Not every craft brewer will have the opportunity to do this.  Some unfortunately just do not make good enough beer to be considered.  Others are perfectly happy with where they are or only want to grow to a certain point.  There will always be craft breweries and the big buys will constantly be looking to new revenues to continue making money for growth and to keep the stockholders happy.

With all of this said I see this purchase as part of the growth of the craft beer industry and is not necessarily a bad thing.  The craft beer industry will continue it's growth and yes may have a market correction in the near or not so near future.  Also we will see a continued growth in the craft beer drinker.



  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

...and now a new can

In a new marketing move Budweiser announced yesterday a new can for their flagship beer Bud, http://consumerist.com/2013/04/17/budweiser-worked-really-hard-on-bow-tie-can-shape-because-other-beers-are-so-hard-to-hold/ .InBev has designed a can that is in a bowtie shape to better match their Budweiser logo.  It is nothing more than a marketing move to sell more beer.  They are aiming this can to the loyal Budweiser drinker.  The funny thing is that the can is actually smaller and will be sold in 8 packs, so this means the typical Budweiser drinker will probably pay more for less.  I am sure that most of them will not care, because they have a "cool" new can to drink from. 

This is just another example of InBev tackling the continued decline of sales of macro-brewed beer while Craft beer continues to grow by double digits.  It is unfortunate for InBev that they have concentrated on making beers that are pretty much bland and tasteless, while there is a movement towards beer that has flavor and variety.  Another approach InBev has used is to purchase Craft breweries and maintain those brands as "independent" to cash in on the Craft beer growth.  This has had some success, like making Goose Island available throughout the United States.

When I go into a liquor store I can not help but wonder why there are so many different packages of Budweiser, Bud Light and so on.  Then I realize what it is all about, market share and making the macro-beer drinker feel unique.  All of the packages help individualize the drinking experience for the macro-beer drinker, that way they feel that they are not drinking the same beer as everyone else when they actually are.  That is what marketing is all about for the macro-breweries.

QC Beer Guy

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

QC Beer Week

I wanted to let everyone know about an upcoming event in the QC.  Starting May 4th and running through May 12th the first QC Beer Week will be happening.  To find more information just head to the following website http://qcbeerweek.com/ .  Some of the beer related places involved in the week include: Bent River Brewery, Great River Brewery, Blue Cat Brewpub, Camp McClellan Cellars and Against the Grain Brewery and Alehouse.  Hopefully more places will decide to join in the fun.  Events will be happening all during this week.  Including Big Brew Day on the 4th and a special tapping of a collaboration beer between MUGZ and Bent River.  A big thanks goes out to Tim K. for organizing and spearheading the week.

QC Beerguy

Friday, March 29, 2013

Self Update

I know I have not posted a blog in a while and plan on doing a better job from now on.  But first an update on myself and kind of a reason why I have been slacking.  With in the last month I have switched my employer and now have a dream job.  I am a Craft beer and wine sales representative for Johnson Brothers of Iowa.  That means I am now selling craft beer for a living, so yes it is a dream job opportunity.  My territory includes the Iowa QC area and Clinton, IA.  Some of the brands I represent are Bell's, North Coast, Lost Coast, Left Coast and Twisted Pine. 

So needless to say I have been a bit hesitant to blog a bunch about various subjects in beer, since I want to make sure not to do anything to hurt my new employment.  With that said from now on anything I talk about will be my own opinion and have nothing to do with my employer.  I want to continue my blog but my job will come first, if need to the blog will have to go.

Long live beer and in particular craft and home brew beer!

QC Beerguy.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Valley Inn Alehouse part 2

My wife and I, along with our daughter and her boyfriend had an opportunity to stop at Valley Inn Alehouse and eat on our way back from First Friday in Le Claire at Mississippi River Distilling.  When we arrived it was after 8PM and the place was still busy, but luckily there was a table open so we snatched it.  Since they were busy it was a few minutes before our waitress had a moment to get our drink order, but after that she was at the table on a timely basis.  When our beers came we were ready to order our food.  My wife and I split a burger, our daughter ordered the bacon cheeseburger sliders and he boyfriend ordered a turkey rueben.  There are many other delicious looking foods on the menu besides what we ordered and I am looking forward to trying them.  Our food arrived fairly quickly and was hot. meaning it came right to us from the kitchen.  We all enjoyed our food, the burger was very good but the waffle fries could of been a bit more crispy which is a small complaint. 

After our stop here for dinner I can enthusiastically say this is a good place for above average craft beer and good food.  It is worth a trip by itself or a stop when you are heading to or coming back from Le Claire.

QC Beerguy

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Valley Inn Alehouse

Recently my wife and I went to the Valley Inn Alehouse with some of our friends and liked what we found.  Among our group, my wife was the only one that had been to the Valley Inn https://www.facebook.com/ValleyInnAleHouse?ref=ts&fref=ts before the remodel and she could not believe the changes.  The interior was totally redone, no longer a "dive bar" atmosphere.  Also they had a good selection of beer on tap and bottled as well and what looked like a good food menu.

From the exterior Valley Inn Alehouse looks about the same as it always has, expect for the outside sitting and smoking area.  When we opened the door an above the door blower/heater clicked on to limit the cold air entering, a nice idea.  We were quickly greeted and told to sit where we liked.  Once we were seated the waitress was there to take our drink order.  This took a bit of time since they had a good amount of beer.  They have sixteen taps, which I would venture about half are craft beer, and probably 30 or more bottles, with about half craft beer as well.  Once we decided on our beers, the next question was what size, 16 or 22?  We all went with the larger option.  An important thing was that all of the tap beer we had was clean and tasted as it should.  Sometimes at an "alehouse" beer can sit in the line and lines are not properly cleaned so the beer can taste unpleasant.

We did not try any of the food options, but a quick look at the menu did lead us to decide we would have to come out some evening to eat as well as to drink.  One thing we were cautioned on was that they are busy on Friday nights and do not take reservations, so seating can be at a premium.  They also have food specials listed on a blackboard.

The interior is well done with a bar big enough to seat 10-15 people, nice lighting, plenty of tables and booths.  The decor is upscale pub/sports bar with a TV everywhere you look.  Also they carried over the remodel to the bathrooms.

Located in between Bettendorf and Le Claire this is an option if you are doing anything in the area for some beers and food.  We are looking forward to our next visit.

QC Beerguy

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bottom fill cup

I had been hearing a few people talk about a bottom fill beer cup and had the opportunity Friday night to see it in action.  Our local event center has switched over to these beer cups to serve Bud Light beer.  My wife and I went with some friends to see our local minor league hockey team play and it was $1 beer night.  Which meant that a cup of Bud Light for a $1, so my wife and I decided to go for it.

We walked to the beer line and waited our turn. While in line we observed the filling of the cups.  The cup is placed down on what almost looks like a sprinkler head and the cup is filled for the bottom up.  Also we noticed that once the cup was full the filler automatically stopped.  Once it was our turn we ordered our beers.  As our beers were being filled my wife chatted up the beer vendor about the beer cups.

We found out that the cups have two magnets in them, the magnet bottom and a magnet ring embedded in the cup itself.  The cups are any thing but perfect, we noticed a few leakers that did not seal properly.  Our beer vendor told us that if the cup does not come with the magnet they save them and get their money back.  These bottom fill cups are a cool invention, but I am unsure if they will actually catch on without revisions.  Namely for me a stronger seal on the bottom between the magnets, several times last night I dripped on my clothes because I inadvertently broke the seal between the magnets by tapping the bottom of the cup.  I am sure they are already working on that concern.  Here is the website to find more out about this new invention http://bottomsupbeer.com/ .

QC Beerguy