World Class Beverages Indiana

June 28, 2010

A Card That Needs To Be Played

Filed under: Beer Business — Jim Schembre @ 10:55 am
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While traveling in Northern Indiana to visit Three Floyds brewery one summer evening I was told about a country bar in a small town that had great tenderloins. Indiana is noted for their tenderloins and it is an Indiana tradition I love to partake in.

I arrived at the local bar with notices in the window proclaiming “We Love Our Troops” and displaying American flags in all the windows.  Upon entering I also noticed even more American flags hanging on the back wall along with red white and blue flashing lights across the bar. This most certainly was the “Heart of America”.  I also found the bar very clean with lots of people, small children, and I was sure everybody knew everybody and that I was the outsider.

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June 15, 2010

Too Big to Be a “Craft” Brewer?

Filed under: Beer Business — Bob Mack @ 2:18 pm
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It’s only fair to say that Samuel Adams beers helped to lead the craft beer revolution in this country. They were making craft beer in the eighties when most of us didn’t know what craft beer was. But a recent New York Times article about the Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams beers, focused on a brewing controversy surrounding the brewer these days. Are they simply too big to be considered a craft brewer?

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May 3, 2010

Let Us Help With Better Beer!

Filed under: Beer Business — Bob Mack @ 12:40 pm
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Some of you may have seen this thread in the “Beer Talk and Questions” forum at http://www.beeradvocate.com. If not, here’s an excerpt. The entire thread is located at BeerAdvocate.com.

Is your beer store beer rep on top of his/her game?
Nothing annoys me more than going into a beer store and finding no one with any beer sense. Thats why it’s such a pleasure to talk shop with [Retailer Name Omitted]. I stopped in there last Friday and Kane talked my ear off about sours, brown ales (my fav) and a number of other styles. Where do u shop for craft brews and do u find the head beer guy to be a world of knowledge or just an empty suit?”

What’s my point? A craft and specialty beer wholesaler like World Class Beverages wants to help retailers understand beer. It’s imperative that there be some significant level of beer knowledge in a store, bar or restaurant that wants to place some emphasis on craft and specialty beers.

The level of beer knowledge in the general population keeps getting better and better. Bars, restaurants and beer retailers need to keep pace in order to be successful.

Don’t get me wrong, a distributor representative can’t be in the store all day selling beer. There’s just no substitute for having good people working in your store. But a good distributor should be able to offer training and educational resources to make a craft and specialty oriented store successful.

If you are a bar, restaurant or retailer looking for help in this area, ask your distributor for it. If you are a consumer looking to direct your favorite bar, restaurant or store to better beer, ask them for it.

April 28, 2010

Anchor Brewing Begins and Ends an Era

Filed under: Beer Business — Bob Mack @ 3:18 pm
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On Monday, April 26, 2010 it was announced that owner Fritz Maytag of the historic Anchor Brewing Company would be selling his interest in the brewery to an investment company.

Anchor Brewing and Fritz Maytag ARE historic in the craft beer world. Fritz bought the brewery in 1965 when there weren’t really any “craft” beers available in the US. Anchor Brewing later pioneered the creation of craft beers as Fritz fought to make the brewery profitable and his efforts contributed greatly to the growing craft beer culture that we enjoy today.

It’s hard to say that Fritz will be missed as he will still carry the title of “Chairman Emeritus” at Anchor. But there’s little doubt that the change of ownership signals the end of an era for the craft beer world. Fritz started making great beer when very few people knew what great beer was. A lot of people must have thought Fritz a little crazy, especially with the craze for “Lite” beer just getting under way back then. But Fritz persisted.

An icon is moving on to other ventures and his daily guidance at Anchor Brewing will be missed. (more…)

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.

January 26, 2010

Beer & Social Media

I’m spending a lot of time on airplanes this week. Normally, that means I’m out of touch and behind on my work, but lately I’m starting to take advantage of my “air time” to listen to podcasts on social media. After listening to many stories of social media becoming a successful business tool for many people, it became obvious to me that social media and craft beer are a match made in heaven!

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December 24, 2009

Craft Beer World Coming to Indiana

Here it is Christmas Eve 2009 and as I sit in a quiet office this day it’s a great time to reflect on all the wonderful things that happened in the craft beer world in 2009, but even more exciting right now are the amazing things we have in store for us in 2010 as craft beer enthusiasts!

As I write, we fortunate enough to have seen the opening of the Barley Island brew pub in Broad Ripple. Immediately, this place became a favorite of mine with their own beers, guest beers and family friendly atmosphere (I have a lovely 16 month old daughter!) Upland Brewing also opened their Tap Room on the south side of Broad Ripple and Sun King Brewing opened their downtown facility filling growlers and samples of their terrific beers.

But 2010 promises even more great beer in Indiana and exciting events coming our way!

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December 23, 2009

Mr. Beer Guy

Filed under: Beer Business — Bob Mack @ 4:24 pm
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