Thus does Harry Schuhmacher sum up the state of the beer world as 2011 draws to a close in this morning’s edition of Beer Business Daily:
Yes, craft was the big winner of 2011. But that’s not news. It’s the degree to which craft won which is news. The days of thinking of craft beer as this little player that plays on the fringe are gone. Perhaps this is why A-B has placed renewed effort on distributor “alignment” of late. They are afraid. Craft beers were by far the largest share gainers in off-premise Symphony IRI channels for 2011, gaining 0.6 share points. The next largest beer category share gainer was imports, up 0.3 points. The difference is that craft gained share while also increasing its average price per case by 55 cents. Imports were up only 34 cents per box. Clearly craft brands are gaining not only in sales and share, but also in brand equity.
Yeah, I know, most of you don’t recognize Blue Moon either and even more of you probably laugh at the idea of Shock Top as craft.
Harry offers up anecdotal evidence to support the statistics: “roughneck” oil workers ordering craft beers in “crappy cinderblock bars on dusty street corners” in Texas and three draft taps at similar bars where not so long ago there were none and the idea would have been unthinkable. He suggests that a factor in the growth is clearly that younger drinkers are not only seeking flavorful beers but also higher ABVs, more bang for the buck (this latter makes me wonder if the patting-themselves-on-the-back attitude that seems to be taking hold among session beer aficionados might become the new beer snobbery meme).
All in all, very good news to start off the week.
Should I begin Christmas shopping yet?