Beer is growing, but premium beer is growing more. If we can stop talking about the impending craft beer bubble for a second, it looks as if the beer trend has normalized at something around the 6 percent and change growth rate. Part of that is the notion of premium beer spreading world wide and part of it, I think, is the way the big beer companies are throwing their weight behind the mid-level beers. For our purposes, these are $10 per six-pack beers as opposed to large format or four-packs which are “High Premium” and growing just fine, thank you.
Distribution deals are a little bit like marriages in that when they go bad, they do so pretty quickly and with a ton of bile. Whether they protect either the brewer or the retailer remains to be seen. Also, there’s something of a personality roll of the dice. Some brewers are fortunate and have awesome, engaged sales people. Others, do, well, less well. I’ve met a ton of really great sales people who have moved from the distributing side to the brewing side. You’re starting to wonder how many personalities are left.
We’ll speculate here about how this is done, but also why it is done. One of the things it is important to remember is there’s a pretty significant divide between people who care what they drink and people who don’t. Same goes for food, obviously. The real fun will be in discussing the hows. The whys are beyond us all.
This is a pretty complex story, especially in the wake of the recent Grainfather demonstration, which went really, really well. On one hand, you feel like Whirlpool should either do the market analysis and mass produce this thing, or not. On the other, though, you feel like it is smart to say, “This is such a niche product it might be beyond any good analysis.
Also, and moreover, I don’t know a lot of homebrewers who would be perfectly happy to keep a fermenter tied up while they’re polishing off their keg. We’ll see, I guess…