Comment - Beer - Beaumont's Brews
By: Stephen Beaumont
Award-winning writer and author Stephen Beaumont gives us his monthly thoughts on what is keeping the global beer industry busy.
Our series of category forecasts continues. After Chris Losh shared his wine predictions last week, here's Stephen Beaumont to tell us how he sees the beer sector shaping up in 2017.
As consolidation at each end of the beer spectrum dominates the headlines, Stephen Beaumont looks at the squeeze on those in the middle. How is life for those too big to play small and too small to play big?
The Great American Beer Festival returned, earlier this month. just-drinks' beer commentator, Stephen Beaumont travelled to Denver to report from the three-day event and gauge the health of the beer category in the US.
Back in the 1990s, a demographic peculiarity began to make itself apparent at beer festivals in the US and Canada. Rather than attracting what most would have considered the predictable scores of male beer drinkers, these festivals, heavily populated by what we then called 'microbreweries', began to be increasingly patronised by females.
It's seven o'clock in the morning, and the gathering crowd already boasts a few dozen hardy souls. By the time sales actually commence in a few hours, there will be many times that number standing patiently in a line that will snake from the door down the block and likely around the corner. Welcome to the world of one-off beers.
Regardless of what country you choose or in which time period it is framed, three words can be used to characterise most early craft beer development: small, undercapitalised and ale. As much as the first two are fairly obvious – we didn't call it 'microbrewing' for nothing, and pretty much all small-scale start-ups are underfunded – the third, ale, is somewhat less self-evident. It is nevertheless directly related to its predecessors.
Can you think of a global beer brand? One that is not hamstrung by being limited to certain regions? It's not easy. Indeed, Stephen Beaumont found it equally difficult, until about two weeks ago.
With pressure from above, from the global brewers, and from below, thanks to craft brewers, the 'world beers' segment has been feeling the squeeze of late. In his latest just-drinks column, beer commentator Stephen Beaumont considers how the mid-sized companies can ease the pressure.
This month, we welcome a new beer commentator to just-drinks. In his first outing, Stephen Beaumont considers whether Asia's brewers are best placed to feast on the scraps from Anheuser-Busch InBev's table as it devours SABMiller.
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