My fellow beer geeks:
When historians write about 2010, they may say that it was the year that craft beer started moving from the underground scene into the mainstream. Televisions shows are showing characters drinking craft beer. Sam Caglione has…er, had…his own reality program. There are a number of shows about beer history, beer creating, beer drinking, beer travels… this spring, a documentary about Indiana craft beer will make its debut on Bloomington’s WTIU. Hell, even I made it onto television (I brought Ted Miller along as my sidekick). Seriously, what does that say about craft beer?
“It shows that craft beer is getting the respect it deserves.” –Mat Gerdenich, President, Cavalier Distributing
“We got a ton of calls, emails and tweets asking for us to get more Bitches Brew right after the initial episode (of Sam Caglione’s “Brew Masters”) – so I know people are watching and reacting positively to it.” –Bob Mack, World Class Beverages
“Our beers on “Parks & Recreation” certainly supports the idea that craft beer is being recognized as a marker for local culture/identity – they called us, we didn’t call them (and we think Amy Poehler is awesome).” –Doug Dayhoff, Upland Brewing Company
While “Brew Masters” focused mostly on Mr. Caglione, there were some Indiana connections on the show:
“It's great to see Greg Christmas in some of the episodes. Previously Greg lived in Noblesville and we did a GABF Pro-Am beer with him. The show will boost the whole category.” –Jeff Eaton, Owner/Brewer, Barley Island Brewing Company
But how many new drinkers are these shows bringing in?
“I doubt it has much impact to attract someone away from what they usually watch on TV, but it keeps the people that are already passionate about beer engaged. I say that seeing people drinking beer on television is good all around, but I don't think the average person relates it to any particular market segment. Those of us passionate about beer see it differently. In the same way that people have been told girls in bikini's will come over and play volleyball with them on the beach if they drink BMC, I think we need to be just as careful not to convince people that craft beer is an exclusive drink reserved only for a certain type of beer drinker. Craft beer is unique and varied and should be appreciated by everyone.” –Dan Valas, President, Great Crescent Brewery
There are a lot of characters in the Indiana craft beer market. I suspect that we could build shows around some of them…
“A Roger Baylor / New Albanian show would be most interesting.” –Gerdenich, Cavalier Distributing
I’m betting Roger could get a show on FOX News…
“Blaine Stuckey (Mad Anthony) really should have his own show. Not only is Blaine ruggedly handsome and tastefully telegenic, but he also has the moves, and he is ready for prime time. As an example: Back in 2008, a group of Indiana brewers were being transported to a party somewhere completely unknown in suburban St. Louis, sprawled in the back of a Third World conveyance called the Pickle Wagon. All of us very well lubricated after a day’s work guarding Otto’s fresh hopping machine at a Schlafly Bottleworks function, and as the Pickle Wagon rumbled forward, Blaine shrewdly passed out. When the vehicle shuddered to a halt, Blaine’s eyes popped wide open, he bolted upright, and then ran straight inside. Fortunately, it was the right house, and he was the life of the party. As soon as we got back into the Pickle Wagon – boom, out went his lights -- again. What a gamer! It was a classic performance, and made for basic cable. When the light goes on, he delivers.” –Roger Baylor, Carnival Barker, New Albanian Brewing Company
I’m thinking that Blaine’s reality show would be a good fit for Bravo. Or maybe an MTV show called “Fort Wayne Shore”…
“100 Indiana craft beer personalities deserve a TV show: I can think of several brewers and bar managers who could double for Sponge Bob, The Fonz, Knight Rider, Miami Vice and several characters from pro wrestling (cool classic WWF and dorky new WWE). BIG could field a great WTTV lineup. ” –Dayhoff, Upland Brewing Company
Sounds like a Nick at Nite lineup.
“John from Broad Ripple Brewpub.” –Chris Stanek, Manager/Co-owner, Crown Brewing
BBC America. That was easy.
“A Hoosier show on craft beer couples could produce some interesting segments. Jeff & Linda - Barley Island, Ted & Shannon - Brugge, Greg & Nancy - Lafayette. I know my youngest daughter would get in her dinner table line of "are you guys talking about beer again"!” –Eaton, Barley Island Brewing Company
Sounds kinda prime time…“How I Met Your Beer Drinkin’ Mother”
“Jim Schembre of World Class Beverage would be a great person to contact. He got me interested in micro brews with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale over 20 years ago. He introduced many micro brews and imports to Indiana before going to work with Monarch Beverage. He is a good talker too! Great bull shit artist.” –Kwang Casey, Owner, Oaken Barrel Brewing Company
Perhaps a Discovery Channel show…instead of “Dirty Jobs” it could be “Natt’y Beers”.
It looks like we have enough Indiana shows to cover the entire channel spectrum. Except we don’t have one yet for Oprah Winfrey’s new channel. I nominate Nick Floyd to develop that one. I’m assuming those Chicagoland superstars hang out together…
While on the subject of superstars, let’s look at the superstars in craft brewing…
((applause with some Arsenio Hall-style woofs))
((applause; standing ovation; audience members start to throw undergarments onto the stage))
“It seems the IPA are the fastest growing market. The people who dabbled into micro brews have grown up to the big IPAs. It's similar to wine drinkers who tried a Pinot Noir as their first red wine, then graduating to hearty Cabernets or Bordeaux. Once you get people to drink an IPA, it's not hard to convince them to try barrel aged, spiced, or other exotic types of beer.” –Casey, Oaken Barrel Brewing Company
“I still see room for imperial styles. Barley Island will launch some 4-pack bottles of big beers in 2011, many of which have been brewed as test batches for our pubs. ” –Eaton, Barley Island Brewing Company
But these big, wild beers aren’t the only popular kids in class. Sessionable beers are quickly gaining momentum. Opposite ends of the spectrum? Sure. But there is room for both.
“I believe in the future of session beers. To me, Sun King has really hit that nail on the head. Their main beers hit in the 5% abv range and come in cans, making them convenient in a variety of settings. I also believe that while Indiana has a small market % of craft versus the rest of the country that we can bring more people into the craft category with “session” beers rather than 80 IBU ales that might scare some folks. So I feel that the session beer is a trend that can help lead the category. But the growth in the IPA category is not going away and while sours are popular among many veteran beer geeks, I’m not sure they can forge a true trend outside of that niche. But please don’t take the 70 IBU and sour beers away from me! ” –Mack, World Class Beverages
“Extreme on the high end is great, but I believe the attractive price points in months to come are going to be in session beer territory. Session beers can have big flavors at lower consumer prices, and with fewer ramifications at the highway sobriety checkpoint. Key to me is educating consumers about the pros and cons of extreme vs. session. At NABC, we feel that our product line is anchored on both these ends.” –Baylor, New Albanian Brewing Company
“I think as our consumers get more educated that they realize that they cannot drink high ABV and high IBU beers all the time and they are the consumers that are now looking for more sessionable beers. Our approach to market is to get and give what consumers want and we are still seeing the growing trend of the high abv and ibu beers but we are even seeing growth in the sessionable beers as well. We think there is also going to be a lot of growth in the Sours. As consumers taste get even more educated. So watch Sours, Sessions, as well as the Big Beers.” –Jim Schembre, Manager, World Class Beverages Indiana
“We first produced a well received 4% session IPA (Where Lizareds Dare) this last summer which continues to be in demand. While the majority of our brews are bigger, 7-10 ABV, we are also continuing to explore full flavored lower ABV offerings.” –Tom Uban, Figure Eight Brewing
“We always do our best to keep a variety of beers on tap. We want to make sure we include the big beers, the medium beers and the sessionable beers. As more macro drinkers make the switch to micro drinkers there has been an increased in requests for a variety of sessionable beers. We always keep our Crown Light(Blonde Ale) on tap to welcome the converts. The Crown Light is a comfortable and welcoming transition for the Miller Light drinkers in the area. Although that is usually the first beer they try, they quickly start expanding their idea of beer. It seems that many people are used to drinking a larger quantity of macro beer, so the idea of a high alcohol ten ounce beer is something they are not yet ready for. We will be releasing more beers that are readily suited to drinking in quantity this year. We want to convert the local macro drinkers and make it an easy transition. We want to welcome and educate as many macro drinkers in the our local area this year as possible. Although, we will continue to brew big beers for the seasoned craft beer drinkers and offer many more varieties of barrel aged beers.” –Stanek, Crown Brewing
“Blending of two beers at the tap is continuing to grow, not only with our beers but customers are starting to blend some of the guest beers on tap at our Broad Ripple location. ” –Eaton, Barley Island Brewing Company
“These trends are all reflected in the beers that people are brewing and are releasing today. While big beers are still huge, there is definitely a momentum toward session beers. We have several breweries that have just released or are planning on releasing year around session beers to their core selection. Another trend we've seen and will continue most likely is the popularity of domestic craft Pilsners. Because the style is so close to the macro-domestic beers that craft beer distances itself from, there hasn't been a ton of interest in craft Pilsners in the past. However, we've seen a big increase in sales and production of craft Pilsners over the last couple of years and this style in particular, along with session ales, will be a trend to stay moving forward.” –Greg Blackman, Sales Manager, Cavalier Distributing, Inc.
“Our Blonde Ale is tied in sales with our IPA and Dark Mild sells strong whenever it's available. I think all beers can be popular if they are well made. Personally, I like drinking beer and I want to be able to have more than one when I go out (or entertain at home). I really like getting a sampler at a brew pub or packaged beer and trying them all. Our next packaging step is getting into some sort of variety pack, I think it's been proven that beer drinkers of all types want some variety and not just hoppy, strong, high ABV beers.” –Valas, Great Crescent Brewery
To be concluded…
Coming up …legislative impacts on the industry and its consumers…and a look at 2011 and beyond…