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Archive for the ‘Beer, Wine & Spirit Trends’ Category

When it Comes to Your Beer Selection, Variety Rules

Thursday, December 13th, 2012
Taphouse Grill
A few of the 160 taps at the Tap House Grill in Seattle (Picture Courtesy of

If you had to guess, which country would you say consumes the most beer? It’s not Canada, Ireland, or America, although those would be my three guesses, quite possibly in that order. It’s the Czech Republic, ringing in at 132 liters per person, per year.

That’s about 4,463 ounces of beer per person, per year. Approximately 372 12-ounce cans. About one 12-ounce beer per person, per day. And everyone doesn’t drink, so those who do are drinking more than one a day.

But I’m getting off track. America comes in heaving at 12th place behind countries like Estonia, Lithuania, and Finland. No medal, not even in the top ten. As if we have no beer bragging benefits. But wait, a tiny shimmer of hope in the distance. Diversity. Variety. Choices.

Sweet sweet America. Land of choices. While we don’t drink the most beer, we surely enjoy a variety of it. In fact, no other country ranks above the States in regards to the number of different beers brewed here. Actually, no other country comes close.

So don’t give your customers the standard "Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Coors light, Michelob Ultra, and Corona" line, when they ask about your beer selection.

While there’s nothing wrong with carrying those beers, and offering them to your customers, why not give them a few more choices? We’re not in a race to consume the most beer. There’s about 10 million Czechs out there who have that securely in their grips. But we are defending a varietal title, and also a commitment to service. So give the people what they want. Defend this varietal land.

In the Western US, Hard Cider Thrives Behind Craft Beer

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012


Craft beer drinkers are usually pretty serious about their hobby. Coupled with that seriousness is a desire to protect their beloved beer, and hard cider’s attempt to sneak onto the "scene" has been mostly fruitless (pun intended).

I proudly admit that I enjoy the tipple myself, but many are averse to it, and for all the wrong reasons. The Los Angeles Times addressed this recently in an article covering a West Coast artisanal cider producer, called Julian Hard Cider.

Many are of the opinion that only non-serious drinkers and fluffy wine-guzzlers drink cider. It’s really an image thing, like ordering a Budweiser when out with your friends at a beer bar. I’m of the opinion, however, that one should drink what they like, regardless of what others think. Further, this association has many flaws.

Julian Hard Cider is working to point out those flaws, and break that association, boasting an older one instead. One that finds its roots in the 1600s with the colonists, who according to Paul Thomas, founder and president of Julian Hard Cider, were all carrying apple seeds, and not to eat apples. "Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, they all had their own supply. America was founded on hard cider," he says.

Hard Cider

The LA Times article also points out that hard cider and applejack liquor were the drinks of choice in the 19th century before lager-style beers crowded the landscape.

Another positive of cider, highlighted by the Times, is it’s gluten-free properties, making it perfect for those with Celiac disease, or anyone pursuing a gluten-free lifestyle.

The flood of mass-produced brands made from low-quality juice and artificial sugars have also contributed to the failure of hard ciders in the past. That is, until producers like Wandering Aengus, Julian, Strongbow, and Fox Barrel stepped up. How can beer geeks reject people trying to do the same things craft beer brewers are doing? They can’t. And they aren’t.

Julian has doubled its output over the last four years, a clear sign that this libation is making it’s way back on to the American panorama through the bottled and draft lists of craft beer bars and major bars alike. And now’s the time to jump on the wagon as autumn is upon us, and there’s never a better time to convert your customers to the hard stuff! Launches Online Wine Marketplace

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Amazon Wine Marketplace

Amazon has a way of continually stretching the bounds of eCommerce. Just recently, they announced a launch for an entire new section on their website dedicated to selling bottles of wine, called the Amazon Wine Marketplace.

They’re offering 1,000 different wines hailing from wineries across the country, with bottle prices ranging from $10 to over $100. Some of the big name wineries include Eden Canyon, Francis Ford Coppola, Pepper Bridge, Hall, and Roadhouse.

The service will be available in California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia to start. But Amazon says that more states will be added soon. The problem in adding more territory lies with complex regulations that differ from state to state.

The wineries will be in charge of the copy accompanying their product; things like food pairings, alcohol content data, and other pertinent information. In terms of search functionality, consumers can narrow their search by location, professional ratings, etc.

Amazon’s biggest competitor will no doubt be, a company that’s been around for 14 years. actually announced a similar Marketplace days before Amazon. comes in with an advantage, as they ship to far more states and offer wines from countries outside the US, including Spain, Italy, France, and Australia. Amazon will bring good competition no matter their limitations, though. It’s just what they do.

The announcement has come conveniently before the holidays, which poses a significant threat to brick-and-mortar wine retailers. This time of year, retailers are relying on their holiday revenue, so they’ll need to step up their marketing and customer service efforts to be sure they keep their customers coming to the store.

5 Lessons We Can Learn From Genny

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

5 Lessons from Genny

My dad drank Genny when I was a kid. His dad drank Genny when he was a kid and although I can’t confirm it, I’m fairly certain his dad’s dad drank Genny too. I am from Rochester, New York after all.

After 234 years in business, the Genesee Brewing Company is experiencing a bit of a renaissance and I couldn’t be more impressed. As someone in the beer industry who understands a thing or two about marketing, branding, and business, I have been continually surprised by their smart decisions and the resulting successes.

This past Saturday I attended the grand opening of their Brew House and it got me thinking about everything they’re doing right. I’ve compiled a list of five important lessons we can all take away from this resilient brewery and their recent success.

5 Lessons We Can Learn from Genny

1. If You Do What You’ve Always Done, You’ll Get What You’ve Always Gotten The last couple of centuries have been good to Genny but like any company they wanted to grow, to expand, to scale. In order to do so, they knew they had to make some changes. In 2007, Norman Snyder was named CEO of the company, and announced a change in branding/packaging. They increased marketing and launched a new corporate website. Most recently, they’ve transformed their once surreptitious brewery into a welcoming destination, increased offerings, and connected with fans. The best part is, it’s working! People are falling in love with this very old brand in a brand new way.

2. It Takes a Community to Raise a Brewery Genny embraces Rochester, and Rochester embraces Genny. Whether it’s taking good care of their employees, hosting free summer concerts, or supporting other local companies in their endeavors, Genesee is becoming more and more socially active in their hometown and people are responding favorably.

Maine-based Baxter Brewing Co., BevNet’s “2011 New Brewery of the Year”, knows a thing or two about communal growth as well. The Lewiston/Auburn community is just as up-and-coming as their pride and joy brewery, and one hand washes the other.

3. There’s Strength (and Security) In Numbers Genesee is the force behind Dundee Ales and Lagers, Seagram’s Escapes flavored coolers, and Rock Wall Brewing. They have an exclusive contract to import Cerveza Imperial from Costa Rica, and they contract brew for Blue Point Brewing, Seven Kings, Brewery, Narragansett Brewing Company, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Stewart’s Shops, Big Flats (a Walgreens product), and Labatt. Individual brand growth can be limited but with acquisitions, mergers, partnerships, and joint ventures the seemingly impossible can be made possible.

4. Stories Sell Remember what I was saying about my dad? Well I’m not the only one who feels nostalgic when I’m looking at a can of Genny Cream Ale. The brewery has a great story, and they’re sharing it with anyone who wants to drink it. From Heritage Collections to interactive exhibits in their Visitor’s Center and their affinity for retro advertising campaigns, they’re really playing up their rich history and impressive longevity. Sure, not everyone has twenty something decades of material – but everyone does have a story. Find a cool angle and use it to your full advantage. People love to be engaged, and nothing’s more engaging than an interesting story.

5. Don’t Limit Yourself My craft beer friends love Genny Bock. I know people who go to great lengths to buy it in mass quantities while it’s available. My grandpa always stocked his kegerator with Genny Light and I know if he were alive today, he still would. My hipster friends like it in the can when they’re out listening to bands I’m too mainstream to know about. My fabulous cousin has plastered the very feminine salon that she owns with their vintage ads. My old man drank it when he was 18 and he still keeps a few bottles in the fridge today.

Sure, there are audiences to play to and demographics to consider – but in the beer world, honest product and good business go a long way. Why be a chick beer, a manly beer, a young beer, or an old beer – when you can just be a good beer? There’s certainly value in targeting but Genesee is proof that sometimes we create our own confines. A little bit of impartiality can go a long way.

All of that being said, should the rumor about North American Breweries being for sale turn out to be true, you might want to consider ponying up the cash. Who says one of the most established breweries can’t also be one of the most up-and-coming?

Wine Industry Growth Rate Speaks To Bar & Restaurant Owners

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Wine Industry Growth Rate

In 2011 the wine industry came in ahead of both spirits and beer with a 4.6% rate of volume growth according to Technomic’s 2012 WineTAB (Trends in Adult Beverage) Report. According to research from this part of 2012, it’s looking like performance will top the charts again.

In 2010, wine accounted for 10 percent of the total adult beverage market and that number rose 0.5 percent in 2011, reaching 329.2 million 9-liter cases.

Part of what drove the market this year and last was consumer perception. Donna Hood Crecca, the senior director of the Adult Beverage Resource Group at Technomic, said “consumers now see wine as an accessible beverage suitable for all occasions.” She also mentioned the media’s positive portrayal of wine and the exploration and embracing of wine by millennials when commenting on the industry’s impressive growth rate.

The Technomic report found that table wine comprises 92 percent of total wine volume and 89 percent of retail sales dollars. Chardonnay is the largest table wine varietal and white wine varietal, with White Zinfandel ranking second. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were the leading red table wines.

In regards to the consumer, the WineTAB report found that females are more likely to consume wine in restaurants and bars, although male consumers spend more on wine in these places. At-home consumption of wine appears to increase with age.

So who should bar and restaurant owners be targeting with their wine selection? Young women with their boyfriends who will not only buy the wine their ladies like, but buy a lot of it to impress them.

Now make sure you have the right racking and refrigeration [link to racking and refrigeration post] to house all of that money-making wine!

Craft Spirits – The Next Big Crowd Pleaser

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Craft Spirits, The next Big Crowd Pleaser

Customers want choices. They want to come into your bar or restaurant and be given the chance to do something different. Plain grilled chicken and a can of Budweiser is easy enough to do at home, so why would anyone come to you for that? That’s why you offer a variety of enticing dishes at different price points and stock your bar with a rotating selection of premium craft brews.

Now, there’s an emerging frontier that offers you another chance to set yourself apart from your competition: craft liquors. We’re in the midst of a cocktail revolution in this country, and discretionary income is being freely spent on drinks that combine unique, high-quality ingredients to provide an experience that goes beyond mere thirst quenching. Offer your customers a one-of-a-kind experience and they’ll be willing to pay for it.

To really take advantage of this burgeoning movement, you need to be educated. There are now over 200 craft distilleries in the US alone and more pop up seemingly every day. Vodka, gin, whiskey, absinthe…pick your poison.  No matter your preference (or your customers’ preference) you can find at least a handful of dedicated artisans doing their best to elevate their chosen spirit to unknown heights of subtle, jaw-dropping taste explosiveness.

With such a fast-moving landscape, you need help to stay on top of what’s hot, what’s not, and what’s an absolute game-changer for you and your business. To that end, we’ve compiled this list of websites that are worth monitoring with an open mind: A craft spirit marketing firm. Partners Alan Mihalcin and Mark Moland painstakingly research each product they represent, with the aim to ensure that anything you find on this site is world-class quality. Another marketing firm. A unique portfolio of small-batch brands worth checking out. A comprehensive compendium of liquors across the entire spectrum of spirits. Reviews, ratings, awards, and long-form, in-depth articles paint a broad picture of each drink. With over 4,000 drinks now on the site, you’re sure to find some gems!

These websites are a great place to start, but don’t stop there. Make some phone calls, talk to your liquor reps, get your hands on some stuff and start trying it. At this point, you’re really only limited by your willingness to be bold and set out in search of a taste adventure for your customers.