Boston Beer Co was disappointed with the "slow pull" on new spring seasonal beer, Samuel Adams Hopscape

Boston Beer Co was disappointed with the "slow pull" on new spring seasonal beer, Samuel Adams Hopscape

The founder of Boston Beer Co has said the company's beers will emerge from a craft beer shakeout among the strongest in the category. 

Speaking following a disappointing set of full-year results yesterday, Jim Koch told analysts the company would continue to support its Samuel Adams brand through hard times. The brewer reported a 5% drop in depletions for 2016, driven by its flagship brand. 

"The shakeout is going to take a couple of years. And we intend to continue appropriate levels of support for Sam Adams, so that we emerge from this transition period with the strongest or one of the strongest brands in the craft industry," said Koch. 

The company highlighted a continued influx of new craft beers but a slowdown in retailer and consumer enthusiasm. 

Boston Beer CEO Martin Roper said retailers in the US are beginning to "simplify their shelves a little bit, particularly some of the larger ones." He said simplification of the craft category was "good" for Boston in the long term because the "fragmentation on the shelf has affected our brands". 

Koch said that the percentage of growth coming from new craft beer SKUs has been declining for the "last three years". 

"2016 was first year in a long time where there was more craft growth that came from existing SKUs and from new SKUs."

He said retailers may be seeing the effects of the "paradox of choice" where too much variety "depresses consumer purchases in that category". 

"I've heard speculation from a couple of retailers that perhaps the fact that there were too many choices has in fact turned consumers away from craft with its extraordinary variety and category clutter and confusion and pushed them to something simple," he added. 

Koch maintains that craft beer, cider and FMBs are growth categories. "We have strong brands within those growth categories. So our best strategy is to continue to support strong brands and growth categories to generate the most shareholder value in the long run."

The company's comments echo those made last year by both Anheuser-Busch InBev and Molson Coors.