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Thursday, March 08, 2012

The Most-Discussed Breweries? You Might Be Surprised

I was trying to track down some information on a brewery a couple days ago, and I could find next to nothing when I consulted the Google. This then reminded me of my post last month about New Belgium, wherein I commented on their social media strategy. And these two things together gave rise to a question: if I search for a brewery name, how many results will I get? The result doesn't give you a perfect snapshot of the amount of discussion happening about a brewery's beer (the amount of time a brewery's been kicking around matters, as does its distribution), but it ain't bad. And the results were fascinating. You've probably already scanned down, but if you haven't, stop to guess: which brewery did best?

Methodology. Brewery names are problematic. Kona, for example, gets you tons of results unrelated to Kona brewing. But putting the brewery name in quote marks "Kona Brewing" is also problematic because names like "Rogue Ales" may well never be used on pages discussing these beers. So to clarify things and make them roughly equivalent, I went with the common brewery name and beer and put them in quote marks under the assumption that any discussion about the brewery would include the word beer. So, "Kona beer," "Rogue beer," and so on.

Without further ado, here are the results for the largest craft breweries. A few comments follow.

That percentage in the far right column are the number of results of the max brewery's total. So Boston Beer has about half Widmer's total, Sierra Nevada a stunning four percent of the Brothers' total. Clearly, the correlation between brewery size and Google results is not great. Breweries like Redhook and Lagunitas could really improve getting their name on websites. And MacTarnahan's? Absolutely pathetic. "Beervana blog" gets you 2,400 results. Beervana blog!

More grist for the internet mill.


  1. The problem with surrounding the search terms in quotes is that's a phrase search; Google will weight the search terms as looking for that specific phrase, which may skew your results.

    Just "Kona beer" (without the quotes) should search for "Kona" AND "beer" and might be a better determinant simply because not every relevant result you're trying to compare will use "NAME beer" as an exact phrase.

    For instance, I did 3 quick comparative searches (the terms below typed exactly as is):

    "Kona beer" - 58,500 results
    Kona beer - 5,100,000 results
    Kona OR beer - 2,180,000,000 results

    Of course results are open to interpretation, but it's something to be aware of when running these types of comparisons.

  2. Wouldn't "Boston Beer" come up with pages where people are discussing all sorts of beer in Boston, rather than just the company? Or did you actually search for "Sam Adams beer"? Could actually be a problem with all kinds of brewery/beer names.

  3. "Boston beer" has half of the results on the first page having nothing to do with the "Boston Beer Company".
    Also, Widmer was apparently brilliant in creating the "Widmer Beer Golf", as that has gone completely viral, as is responsible for a large number of the Widmer Beer references.

  4. A general comment. In doing any kind of search, you're going to run up against certain limitations. I decided to use the "brewery beer" formula because it has the virtue of consistency and accuracy. It's not intended to be a reflection of total hits, but the relative amount of chatter on a topic where most false positives have been eliminated.

    Jon, that's why I chose this formula.

    JF, d'oh! How did I miss that. Comparison: "Sam Adams beer" gets you 115,000.

    Nick, I think that success you point to with Widmer is something others might be interested in emulating. Widmer is in many ways under-appreciated for its grassroots, viral-y efforts.

  5. the scribd widget to view the results is incredibly annoying. sorted by decreasing % of max would be the most useful.