The beverage business blog from James Wilmore
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Which US beer brands have suffered most since 2006?
04 Dec 2012 16:28
Can the pressure Big Beer is under in the US be proved with hard stats? Apparently so.
The folks at website 24/7 Wall Street have crunched some numbers to come up with a list of brands that have suffered over the past five years. It comes under the rather hyperbolic headline 'Nine Beers Americans No Longer Drink'. But you get the idea.
Click here for the link.
Follow me on Twitter @jamescwilmore
A January detox only leads to a retox
23 Nov 2012 16:42
Alcohol Concern - a UK-based charity aimed at cutting alcohol harm - is urging drinkers to have a "dry January". But is this a credible strategy?
"Feel better. Save money. Make a difference," its website says. You can also get friends and family to sponsor you, which seems like a bit of a stretch.
But what seems particularly odd is that another leading charity, with lots in common with Alcohol Concern, the British Liver Trust said a year ago that a January detox is "medically futile".
"People think they're virtuous with their health by embarking on a liver detox each January with the belief that they are cleansing their liver of excess following the festive break," said chief executive Andrew Langford.
"You're better off making a resolution to take a few days off alcohol a week throughout the entire year than remaining abstinent for January only."
Having tried this British tradition a few times, I would have to agree. Indeed a former colleague, who used to do a January detox, always relished the prospect of a "retox" night in early February, no doubt undoing all his good work.
Alcohol Concern, which also runs Alcohol Awareness Week, ending this Sunday, must believe that people will have a month off and realise the error of their ways. But I'm not sure it works like that.
Aussie wine - From nowhere to nirvana
14 Nov 2012 16:37
How did the Australian wine industry change itself from an ignored laughing stock into world beaters?
A thoroughly enjoyable BBC4 documentary - 'Chateau Chunder: When Australian Wine Changed the World' - sought to answer that question last night. Marketing seemed to be the key... and producing damn fine wine. The whistle-stop history tour was a mixture of the serious, the silly and the surreal (no doubt inspired by the title's reference to a Monty Python sketch). Definitely worth a watch, if you missed it.
Click here for access.
Heineken's Bond adventure: Hit or miss?
13 Nov 2012 16:30
The James Bond/Heineken tie-up has caused quite a fizz. Some seem shaken by the corporate takeover, others are unstirred.
Some have poked fun, like Jay Leno.
Having seen the film, one thing struck me as odd. Arguably the most memorable scene featuring the Dutch beer brand is one in which Bond is seen as a washed-up drunk in bed, nursing Heineken's iconic green bottle.
Surely, when you've reportedly paid US$45m to have your product featured, this is not the sort of image you want projected?
I suppose it's not as bad as having a character being seen to drink your product while driving, which is what rival Anheuser-Busch InBev was jumping up and down about last week.
Still, at least they hadn't splashed any cash on the venture.
Millions of reasons Diageo is happy with United Spirits deal
09 Nov 2012 14:08
Why is Diageo so excited at the prospect of getting its hands on Vijay Mallya's United Spirits?
For one, the Indian group has 140 brands, including 22 it calls "millionaire brands", which sell more than a million cases a year.
A handy rundown of all the other juicy facts on United Spirits, courtesy of Diageo, is available here.
US election: Ale man versus abstainer
06 Nov 2012 16:59
Alcohol has often played a role in politics, but will it swing any votes in the US election?
Barack Obama has his own microbrewery in the White House, which surely must impress some brewers. (To prove it's not just a PR stunt, a short video about the brewing process and recipes for the beers were even released).
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is a tee-totaller, due to his Mormon faith. Although apparently he has "friends who own multinational breweries", according to writer Timothy Egan, who also offers a good overview of past presidents and their levels of indulgence here.
Could America really elect a man who doesn't drink at all? I'm not sure it could happen here in the UK.
Barr/Britvic deal - in the can?
31 Oct 2012 11:47
What's delaying AG Barr and Britvic cracking open the (non-alcoholic) fizzy stuff and announcing formally they will join together in corporate matrimony?
The two groups revealed today they have been granted a second extension to continue their talks over a tie-up.
According to a previous report, the final detail choking up the deal was deciding on a name for the merged company. 'Barr Britvic' and 'Britvic Barr' are the two suggested candidates. But surely such a relatively trivial issue is not still delaying them?
A source close to the situation pooh-poohed this idea. "It's a simple fact that these things just take time," the insider told me. They also flagged that when the initial announcement was made this was at a "very early stage" and the talks have gone from "preliminary" to "advanced".
One analyst thinks it could be the "conservative" and "pragmatic nature" of Barr's board, set against Britvic's slightly sticky situation. This seems a more likely reason.
The Times' leisure and drinks correspondent, Dominic Walsh suggests the deal is nearly there and "all over Barr the shouting".
Only another month, or less, to wait.
Follow me on Twitter @jamescwilmore
Pumpkin beer - not just for Halloween?
22 Oct 2012 15:55
Is pumpkin beer finally making a breakthrough as a credible style in the US?
I only ask after noticing on a recent trip to New York a number of folks ordering and taking an interest in it at bars. One overheard conversation involved a 20-something guy ordering a pumpkin beer, to which his companion responded: "Pumpkin beer? Really?" The retort was: "Yeah, when it's this cold, I like the spice".
One writer suggests, until recently, it was the Blink 182 of of the beer world - "corny, commercial, not taken seriously". Or Coldplay, maybe.
But with the redoubtable Delaware-based brewer Dogfish Head among a glut of brewers getting in on the act, perhaps pumpkin ale is about to bust out of its Halloween niche?
Follow me on Twitter @jamescwilmore
Minimum pricing fears spread Down Under
17 Oct 2012 16:04
In case you were in any doubt how much the industry wants to close down the threat of minimum pricing, wherever it rears its head, evidence has come this week. The Scotch Whisky Association, which counts Diageo as among its leading members, has responded to a consultation in Australia on minimum pricing.
The SWA's full submission can be viewed here.
With the group fighting the matter closer to home, with a two-pronged legal challenge, and the UK's Prime Minister David Cameron also keen on the idea, fighting the measure is becoming a full-time job.
Bloomberg's New York political hari-kari explained
15 Oct 2012 12:41
New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg clearly cares little for popularity. His plan to ban large high-sugar soft drinks from the city's stores and restaurants has been vilified by many. In the latest twist, the proposal is even facing a legal challenge.
But, although it may seem an act of political hari-kari, it appears to matter little to Bloomberg. For readers not familiar with the political workings of the Big Apple, under the city's current rules a mayor can only serve for a maximum of three terms. And, you guessed it, Bloomberg is in his third term, due to end next year. It's all about the "legacy" now.
Moreover, as reportedly the tenth richest person in the US, with a net worth of US$25bn, Bloomberg needn't worry about finding another job after he exits the role of mayor.