A partial government shutdown began at midnight last Friday, due to a budgetary stalemate between President Trump and Congress regarding funding a wall on the Mexico-U.S. border. This is concerning for many reasons, one of which relates to the beer industry.
The shutdown includes the temporary closure of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the federal organization that vets things like brewery applications, beer labels, and loans. Closing the TTB could mean a backlog in beer label approvals, meaning breweries planning to release new beers in 2019 could be affected. In a government shutdown in 2013, brewery applications and label submissions were automatically rejected, delaying seasonal releases from breweries, including New Belgium.
“We hope members of Congress and the President negotiate a swift end to this government shutdown so the TTB and other agencies that impact the beer industry get back up and running so Americans can continue to enjoy innovations in their favorite alcohol beverage – beer,” Jim McGreevy, CEO of the Beer Institute, wrote.
This is the third government shutdown in 2018.
For a President who touts dedication to American industry, this shutdown is potentially harmful to the craft beer business. This shutdown could affect all facets of the beer business, from emerging brewers desperate to get an ultra-fresh new beer on store shelves, to delivery truck drivers employed by supermarkets and package stores.
Adding insult to injury? America’s demonstrated thirst for Mexican beers (more on that below). Yes, those advocating America close its southern border have concerns beyond Mexico. But we can’t demand Mexican imports and celebrate its products while trying to put a wall between us. That’s more than bad for business. It’s bad, period.
America’s Fastest-Growing Beer Brands Are Mexican
Three of America’s top five fastest-growing beer brands are Mexican, a recent report says.
U.S. drinkers are shifting away from domestic light lagers to imported lagers. The top five fastest-growing beer brands by sales increase are Modelo Especial (up nearly 127 percent), Michelob Ultra (101 percent), Stella Artois (91 percent), Dos Equis (42 percent), and Corona Light (26 percent), USA today reports.
The first American brand turns up at No. 6: Bud Ice, which saw a 23 percent increase in sales between 2012 and 2017.
These numbers don’t stand alone. BeerBoard, a draft beer management system whose clients include Buffalo Wild Wings, Hooters, and Applebees nationwide, recently reported that light lager was its most poured style. The usual suspects topped the list: Bud Light, Miller Light, and Coors Light.
However, the second most poured category, lager, demonstrates an interesting trend: Dos Equis was the most poured lager in 2018. Modelo Especial overtook Budweiser at the No. 2 spot.
The popularity of Mexican lagers is boundless. Not only are we seeing it in the increase of Mexican imports themselves; more U.S. craft brewers are trying their hand at the style, too. West Sixth Cerveza, a Mexican-inspired light lager brewed with pilsner malt and flaked corn, was one of VinePair’s top beers of the year. Earlier this month, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Blue Point Brewing teamed up with Taco Bell on a special collaboration pilsner.
The message is clear: Americans want Mexican lagers, and we want them now. Corona inspired generations to find our beach with its marketing strategy selling beer and vacation. Dos Equis caught our eye with its decade-long ad campaign that had us lusting after the “Most Interesting Man in the World.” Modelo showed up as a sponsor in the previously alcohol-immune pro-wrestling world.
Mexican lagers are as American as beach vacations and television. We thirst for their satisfying refreshment, yes; but we thirst, too, for their transportive, fantastical implications.