World Class Beverages Indiana

June 22, 2010

Down Economy Helping Craft Beer?

It’s counter-intuitive to say the least. People usually spend less money in slow economic times and craft beer is typically more expensive than the national brand alternatives. So we’d expect people to switch to lower priced brands, right? But spending less doesn’t always mean buying less expensive beer.

We’re well into thesecond year of a sluggish economy and craft beer sales are looking great while the rest of the beer industry struggles. In fact, 2009 saw an increase of 7.2% in the sales of craft beer while the overall beer industry struggled with a 2.2% decline according to the Craft Brewers Association.

Clearly, the economy has not yet hurt the craft beer category, but is the down economy actually helping the sales of craft beer?

The US economy continued to decline from 2008 to 2009 in a variety of measurements including the growth rate of gross domestic product (GDP), one of the key measurements of economic productivity. Craft beer sales, already healthy coming into 2008, grew even faster in 2009. From 2005 to 2009 the US GDP declined in growth rate each year while craft beer sales continued to rise.

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June 18, 2010

1st Annual Beer Bloggers Conference Coming November 2010

We’re excited to say that World Class Beverages will be a sponsor of the first ever Beer Bloggers Conference coming up this November 5-7  in Boulder, Colorado. What better place to write about and drink beer?

Who should attend? This event is a no-brainer if you write about beer or are involved in the blossoming world of social media surrounding beer. But perhaps more importantly, this event will have some tremendous content for those of us (like me!) who just love great beer and are genuinely interested in helping to promote it. I cannot imagine that there is a better way to prepare yourself to be an “influencer” in the world of beer than by attending this event.

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June 16, 2010

Craft and Specialty Beer Update: June 16, 2010

Filed under: New Product Releases and Placements — Bob Mack @ 4:43 pm
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Each week we try to give you the low down on what’s happening with our craft and specialty brands in the state of Indiana. We highlight new products, expected shipments and arrival dates for each brewery and importer in our portfolio.

US Craft Brands -

Abita (Louisiana): Satsuma Wit is in stock now. Also, a special pilsner called S.O.S (Save Our Shoreline) will be bottled and shipped to Indiana in August.  75 cents of each bottle of S.O.S. will benefit recovery efforts of the Louisiana coastline. From Abita: “This unfiltered Weizen Pils is made with Pilsner and Wheat malts.  It is hopped and dry hopped with Sterling and German Perle hops.  It has a brilliant gold color, sweet malts flavor, and a pleasant bitterness and aroma.   It is 7% ABV and has 35 IBU.”

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June 14, 2010

Beer Review: Barley Island Barfly

Filed under: Beer Reviews — Bob Mack @ 4:41 pm
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I’m an IPA guy. In other words, a hophead. So I like to think I know a little bit about this sort of beer. I’ve certainly had plenty of them. I love trying new ones and old favorites from all parts of the country. But they say that “there’s no place like home” and Barley Island’s Barfly IPA, brewed right here in central Indiana, has become a home, of sorts, for me.

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March 25, 2010

New Beers to Indiana – March 25, 2010

There are a bunch of new beers to Indiana this month and next, with most of them hitting store shelves this week on into April and May. In addition, Bell’s Oberon makes it’s long awaited return to Indiana on March 29th. A complete map to all Indiana bars and restaurants who will be pouring Oberon draft on March 29th is now available at the World Class Beverages website.

It’s March Madness, World Class Beverages style!

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March 10, 2010

Less is More? Are There Too Many Beers?

(Left to right: Harry Schumacher - Beer Business Daily, Dale Katechis - Oskar Blues Brewery, Steve Hindy - Brooklyn Brewery, Jim Schembre - World Class Beverages)

Plenty of great discussion took place at last week’s “Beer Industry Summit 2010” in Phoenix. One of the surprising topics that has reared itself repeatedly at the Beer Summit is the proliferation of brewers and products in the beer industry as a whole, including and especially in the craft beer category.

Are there too many brewers in the US? Are there too many beers? It sounds a little bit like crazy talk, but there are a fair number of brewers who seem to feel that this may be the case.

Right now, the Brewer’s Association will tell you that there are almost 600 breweries in the United States that bottle, can, keg or otherwise distribute beer. That number doesn’t count the many hundreds of brewpubs that brew beer for sale in their restaurants. In most markets, there are only 2 or 3 beer distributors that will carry and sell craft beer, which leaves a theoretical total of 200 to 300 brewers per distributor in any particular area, not including the wide array of import brands that are currently available.

The problem becomes this: no one really believes that any single distributor can properly handle 100, 75 or even 50 breweries. Even the best salesperson doesn’t have the time or opportunity with their retail customers to make proper presentations for that many breweries. For a distributor with such a large portfolio of brands, the larger volume brands are going to get a lot of attention, but the rest will suffer. In theory, the top 10 breweries out of 50 may flourish and the remaining 40 will get neglected.

World Class Beverages of Indiana handles about 25 different US based craft brewers and even we get criticized by brewers for having too many brands. Many other craft distributors carry even more brands than we do.

One brewer I spoke to this week worries that his brand doesn’t get enough attention and becomes “clutter.” That means he’s concerned that his beer gets stale on the shelf and that shipping and logistics become troublesome and expensive due to small volumes. Yet another brewer has suggested that distributors should focus only on their top 10 (or so) craft brands, thus streamlining their operation and making it possible for them to make more frequent and more in depth presentations for those remaining brands.

Those brewers are absolutely right to be concerned. They need to protect the integrity of their products and help us to maintain freshness and selection, but I know that most of our consumers seem to prefer that we increase our selection and product list.

Are there too many beers?

According to the Brewers Association, the craft beer industry grew 7.2% in 2009 over the previous year. However, the total number of “craft breweries” grew from 1485 in 2008 to 1542 in 2009, representing a 3.8% increase in the number of craft breweries. In addition, many of the existing craft brewers in 2008 expanded their capacities in 2009, some to dramatically higher levels. And while statistics on overall capacity growth are not readily available, it is hard to imagine that the 3.8% increase in the number of craft brewers plus the expansion of production capacities by existing craft brewers couldn’t have accounted for all of the 7.2% growth in the craft category in 2009. Perhaps there was no actual growth in 2009 at all?

Growth in the overall beer market was actually down in 2009 from the previous year, but that drop in overall sales volume is represented entirely by the major, non-craft, brewers who saw significant declines in consumer demand. However, there were no new brewery entries into the major brewer category either and no significant expansion of capacities for the major brewers in 2009.

In the end, most brewers and wholesalers would love to see the market continue to grow and I believe strongly that the craft industry will continue to grow. But might we already be at a point where the industry itself is growing faster than consumer demand, and if so, what does that mean for many established, quality brewers who may find that their share of the craft beer pie is shrinking, even as the pie continues to grow overall.

The Beer Summit is a terrific gathering of brewers and distributors that is organized by Beer Business Daily, one of the pre-eminent trade publications in the beer industry. Visit Beer Business Daily at www.beernet.com.

February 5, 2010

Have a little Hair of the Dog

Alan Sprints, owner and head brewer at Hair of the Dog Brewing of Portland, Oregon has been kind enough to send 3 of his acclaimed beers to Indiana. Cases of Hair of the Dog Adam, Fred and Ruth just made their way to Indiana this week, but in very small amounts of only 24 cases each, so get them while you can!

Just to give you a little insight into the quality of these beers, here are the individual ratings from RateBeer.com: Adam – 100, Fred – 99, Ruth – 84.

Yea. They’re that good.

Hair of the Dog only makes about 500 barrels annually and their distribution is limited to a handful of states, mostly in the Pacific Northwest. We’re grateful to Alan for sharing a little bit of these tremendous beers with us!

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