With the stroke of a pen Wednesday morning, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak cleared the way for local brewers to start serving beer straight from their breweries.
“We’re making it easier for Minnesota beer drinkers to drink Minnesota beer and create jobs here,” Rybak said. “Sales of pints on site will also grow the local beer economy by lowering the barriers for entry for new breweries, which will allow them to hit the ground running. And it complements Minneapolis’ burgeoning local food economy that is creating new businesses and even more jobs.”
Story here. I agree it will make it better for the local economy, but I don't buy the jobs angle. The ordinance will improve the local economy because the brewhouses want to have the taproom and beer drinkers want to sample the fare at the plant, so to speak. It gives both sides more freedom and both sides will be better off.
But on the jobs angle, who is going to visit the taprooms - locals or non-locals? How many non-locals would have come to Minneapolis anyways? My guess is that most of the tap room visitors will be folks from the Twin Cities area (not just Minneapolis) who would have spent time in Minneapolis anyways. In that case the ordinance would simply redistribute economic activity rather than create it
But I like the ordinance because it gives people more freedom of choice. I just disagree with the jobs angle.
IPA's are not just uber-hoppy pale ales any more. Apparently, calling a beer an IPA is synonymous with being hoppy, meaning that the beer doesn't have to actually be "pale" (i.e. golden). Yes, Virginia, apparently there is such a thing as a Black IPA.
Of course some brewers just use the term "India" rather than use IPA to tell consumers the beer in the bottle is hoppy. I think I prefer the use of the term "India" even though the 19th century English, to my knowledge, didn't ship anything other than hopped-up pale ales to India to quench the thirst of their soldiers stationed there.
I recently brewed a hopped-up cream stout. I used Kent Goldings hops which are a silky-smooth hop with candy-like flavors, a hop that IMHO compliments the creaminess of the stout. I suppose that I could call it an India Cream Stout.
A measure that would raise the excise tax on a 750 ml bottle of wine
from 4 cents to $5.11 has been cleared for circulation by the Secretary
of State. Proponents can begin collecting the 433,971 signatures needed
to put the initiative on the November ballot.
The measure would push the tax on a six-pack of beer from 11¢ to
$6.08, and raise the total tax on a 750 ml bottle of distilled spirits
from 65 cents to $17.57.
The wine country in California is already hurting as I described in this recent post. This, if it passes, isn't going to help that industry recover.
Via Craig Depken who correctly thinks this will drive more people to make their own at home since the ingredients are probably subject to a typical sales tax. Moreover, for those, like me, who have made the requisite investment in homebrewing equipment and who have climbed the learning curve, it's already cheaper* to make their own beer. A tax like this only makes homebrewing even cheaper in relative terms. So what's next, a big excise tax on beer and wine ingredients too? If so, that would mean a hefty tax on things like honey, oatmeal, and coffee which are common ingredients in some craft brews and also on wine ingredients like grapes.
*The ingredients for a typical batch of yielding two cases of craft brewed beer costs me about $25 - $30 for ingredients after tax and about 5-6 hours of my time spread over two or so weeks. But like I said, I've already made the equipment investment and climbed the learning curve.
Canning is a relatively new phenomenon in the craft beer industry. Why did it take so long? If you said "demand and supply", go get yourself a bottle - or can - of your favorite brew. If this simple explanation is, well, too simple, then check out this article in Examiner.com. It offers a deeper explanation about the aspects of demand and the aspects of supply that drove small brewers to package their fare in bottles until recently. I linked to the article in the update to an earlier post on premium wine vs. premium beer, but later thought it deserved a link in its own post.
Now that Missouri has been swatted out of the Big XII men's basketball tournament by the 12th seeded Cornhuskers of Nebraska, I have a little time to spend on other forms of entertainment. One of the movies I plan to watch via Netflix is Beer Wars by Anat Baron. It's available on Netflix in streaming form. Here is Anat's IMDb profile. Here is a trailer to the movie.
I've recently written some posts on the craft brewing industry relative to the macrobrewers like InBev-owned Anheuser Busch and MillerCoors. While the cheaper macro brews have been hurting as of late, the more expensive craft brews have seen remarkable growth. See here, here, here and here.
Here is another article focusing on the brewing industry along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, particularly the Boulder and Longmont, Co area. Like their counterparts in other parts of the country, they have seen their business, and their industry, expanding. Most of the numbers reported by the author, Alicia Wallace, for the industry are the same: overall beer sales in 2009 were down 2.2% and the sales of imported beer fell by 9.9%.
But Wallace notes:
Last year's performance by 1,508 craft brewers outpaced that of 2008,
when 1,459 craft breweries reported increases of 10.1 percent by dollar
sales and 5.9 percent by volume sales. Craft breweries also gained a
little more market share to 6.9 percent in dollar sales and 4.3 percent
in volume sales, the association said.
It's important to realize that growth rates depend on the size of the industry (or portion of the industry in this case) is a driver of growth rates. The craft brew market is small which is partly driving the large growth rates. But it's nice to see more brewers set up shop. And talk about a competitive market!
Wallace writes about the canned craft beer market. Most craft beers have been sold in bottles, partly due to a snob affect*. But that trend has been bucked of late by brands such as Oskar Blues in Lyons, Co. and Surly Brewing in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. The nice thing about canned beer is that you can take it to softball parks and other areas where cans are allowed but bottles aren't. That opens up another segment of the market for beer.
Compare all this to the American wine industry where the premium brands, such as those in the Napa valley, are in a world of hurt (note the implicit attention given to derived demand).
Napa winery and vineyard loan defaults rose fourfold to 18 in the
12 months through January, according to San Diego research firm MDA
DataQuick. In the survey by Silicon Valley Bank, whose clients are
mostly high-end West Coast wineries, 71 percent of respondents said
credit is harder to get.
The recession has set in motion a "secular change," with
budget-conscious consumers trading down to less expensive wines, said
Peter Kaufman, managing partner at Pleasanton' Bacchus Capital
Management LLC, a private-equity fund that provides mezzanine, or
short-term, financing to wineries.
The dollar value of U.S. retail wine sales dropped 3.3 percent to
$29 billion in 2009 after rising every year and almost tripling from
1991 through 2008, according to Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates in
Woodside. Though consumption increased 1.9 percent to 323 million cases
last year, people are buying less-expensive labels, the industry
consultant said in a report Friday.
Sales of super-premium bottles - priced more than $15 - declined 10
percent last year, and those over $30, defined as ultra-premium, fell
at least 15 percent, according to Rabobank Nederland NV, the
Netherlands bank that finances agriculture businesses. Napa and
neighboring Sonoma County are the top U.S. producers of premium wine,
the bank said.
All this raises an interesting question. Why is it that the premium types of beer are selling like hot cakes at a time when premium wines are seeing their market contract? I imagine that there is an InBev backlash in the beer industry. In addition, the craft brew market is a younger market while the wine industry has reached some sort of maturity where the inefficient get weeded out. Are government subsidies given to wineries, which tend to prop up the weakest firms in the industry, part of the equation?
A related question: how are the wineries in atypical locations, like Minnesota and Iowa, faring these days?
Lastly, some of the wineries north of San Francisco, like this one in the Russian River Valley, sit on land that was once used to grow hops for beer. Although it is easier said than done, don't be surprised if some of these struggling wineries can move some land to growing hops to help meet the demand for craft brews.