Depletion growth estimate of 6% to 8%, reflecting the continued strength of the Kona, Redhook and Omission brands offset by softness in the Widmer Brothers brand. Previous guidance was 8% to 10%.This just mystifies me. Kona is a solid label, and their seasonals are exceptional--but their regular offerings like Longboard Lager are pretty pedestrian beers. Redhook has a similarly pedestrian line of beers augmented by specialty beers that sometimes (but not always) wow. Widmer, on the other hand, is one of the most innovative brands in craft brewing, and I could survive on nothing but their 23-beer line-up this year if I had to. They throw a lot of experiments on the wall, and some don't stick. It would not stun me to learn that Kill Devil didn't fly off the shelves. But the rotating IPAs, the fruit gose, the really lovely oatmeal porter--and on and on--these were fun, wonderful beers. So why the market softness?
I sometimes like to fancy myself an astute observer of the beer market. Sometimes I think I understand which beers will sell and why. But then I read a report like this and am reminded how hard the beer biz is, especially when you're dealing with the mass-craft market. (CBA has already brewed 550,000 barrels of beer this year.) If you're a 5,000-barrel brewery, I think the success calculus is a lot simpler: make excellent, distinctive beer. When you're a 500,000-barrel brewery? No clue.
Sages of the beer biz, please comment if you can help 'splain this for the rest of us.