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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

We Like IPA and Other Findings

In the past couple years, the Brewers Association (BA) has really stepped up their stats game, a development I heartily welcome.  Today comes a quickie update on the year in beer, and three data points are worth closer scrutiny.

We Like IPAs
Sez the BA: "According to retail scan data, IPA is up 47 percent by volume and 49 percent by dollar sales, accounting for 21 percent volume share of craft."

One in every five beers we drink is some version of an IPA--and there's a good reason to believe this understates matters.  The BA relies on supermarket scans for these data (Symphony IRI and Nielsen), so they're not seeing what people drink in pubs or what they buy from specialty stores.  The figure is probably closer to a quarter of the craft beer sold rather than a fifth.

More interestingly, keep in mind that this is a new trend.  It was only three years ago that IPAs finally eclipsed long-time leader pale ale.  The ascendance of IPA is still an incipient trend, and who knows where it will finally level off.

A Lot of Breweries
BA: Breweries are opening at a rate of 1.5 per day. In addition, there are more than 2,000 breweries in planning....  In November, the United States passed the mark of 3,200 brewers in the country."

I continue to believe that, on the whole, the craft beer segment is positioned for strong growth over the coming decade.  But holy moly, that is one king-hell lot of breweries.  I suspect that there's more than a few poor business plans among them.  I wouldn't be surprised to see brewery closings start to spike soon.

Women Will Save Us
BA: "Additionally, women consume almost 32 percent of craft beer volume, almost half of which comes from women ages 21-34."

This is one of the reasons I've long been so bullish on craft beer in the US.  Despite occasional transgressions, craft breweries have been really good about offering a gender-neutral product.  They have neither alienated women with idiotic babes-in-bikinis ads nor condescended to them with idiotic products.  They've just made good beer and assumed women would like it.  Not-so-magically, that's what's happening.

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