The fight for independence in beer is raging stronger than ever in certain circles, but craft breweries may have hit an impasse. UBS, a wealth management firm, recently released a study on U.S. alcohol consumers that found that 45 percent of drinkers don’t care if the beer they drink is from an independent brewery.
The survey took input from around 1,200 Americans who said they are alcohol consumers. Only 30 percent said that independence was extremely important when deciding what beer to purchase, while 25 percent said it’s somewhat important. What’s more, just over 40 percent of people said that the quality of beer stays the same after a brewery is purchased, and 11 percent said they believe the brand would improve.
There’s always the caveat that surveys have a lot of room for error — especially surveys of only 1,200 people. But there’s still something to be said when the survey reflects the market. Sales of breweries like Goose Island and Wicked Weed to AB InBev caused a huge uproar among craft beer fans, but the beer still sells and will continue to sell in more locations thanks to AB InBev’s distribution network.
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So the question for craft breweries really becomes: Can the 30 percent of drinkers who actually care if their beer comes from an independent brewery support more than 5,000 breweries? With the recent slowdown of beer consumption and the struggles of some of the bigger craft companies like Boston Beer Company, the answer may be that the market is just oversaturated. Craft beer is relying on too few people to sustain the current growth patterns.
So how do independent craft brewers and the Brewers Association make more drinkers care where their beer comes from? Judging by the fanaticism over New England IPAs, niche sales seem to be working. But beating AB InBev, Molson Coors, and Heineken outright in the craft business? That seems to be getting harder every day.
On a lighter note … Oktoberfest is nearly upon us
There’s no better time to be a fan of German-style beers than the fall. First off, you get all the delicious Märzens that breweries pump out both at home and abroad. Secondly, you get Oktoberfest-themed, beer-proof shoes. Finally, you get world records like this: The beer-mug-carrying champion of the world.
Oliver Struempfel set a new world record on September 3 after he carried 29 liter mugs of beer 40 meters without spilling more than 10 percent of the beer. He told Reuters that he trained (presumably without beer) at the gym three to four times a week since February to beat the previous record of 25 he set in 2014.
“When I think about it, it’s 200 hours (at the gym) for about 40 seconds of walking,” Struempfel told Reuters.
And it shows. This guy is jacked.
Beer-brewing monks are helping rebuild an Italian town
Last year, an earthquake devastated the city of Norcia, destroying ancient buildings and taking lives. One of those was a monastery where Benedictine monks lived and brewed Belgian beer. Before the earthquake, they were making around 30,000 bottles a month and exporting around the world. Then their brewing system was taken out.
Today the monks are rebuilding, and helping rebuild their town as well. It’s an uplifting example of what a true community brewer looks like.