Beer, Bars & Brewers #11
This week in beer news: Soda Stream releases a instant beer carbonation machine, The Guardian takes a look at sexism in the brewing industry, fittingly the High Heel Brewing Co. releases its first beer: the ‘Slingback’, and NYT author Bob Peas takes a look at the potential impact of the impending AB InBev SABMiller merger.
If you happen to be in Hamburg from the 17th to 19th of June then head on over to the Craft Market. Lovers of all things craft will surely find their happy place in St. Pauli’s Rindermarkthalle, which is set to be filled with vendors selling everything beer, food, and design related. Perhaps some live music also? We think so. More information here.
Instant Beer Bar by Soda Stream
What has this godforsaken world come to? After last year’s launch of SodaStream Mix, a machine that produces carbonated cocktails, it seems the makers of Soda Stream have gone one step further: just last week they introduced the launch of a “beer concentrate that can be transformed into beer by adding carbonated water”. Called Beer Bar the “home beer system” is said to “enable consumers to concoct crafted beer” in seconds. Crafted or craft? This is a headache waiting to happen. The concentrate itself is named Blondie and when mixed with carbonated water (as one is apt to find in a Soda Stream), produced a 4.5% beer that has a “smooth authentic taste, and a hop filled aroma”. The Beer Bar will first launch in Europe before it’s rolled out to further markets in late 2016 and 2017. Jump for joy.
Female Brewers take aim at Industry Sexism
Sexism is nothing new in all the worlds: spirits, beer, and “the real one”. What’s new is the fact that we’ve finally come to live in a place where the perpetrators are regularly being called out on it, instead of applauded. The Guardian’s Rob Davies (oh the irony) discussed the backlash happening around brewers relying on tired, sexist tropes to sell their beers. For example, the Fem.Ale is a annual festival that takes place in Norwich and is aimed at women who brew and drink craft ale.
Project Venus was founded by a Sara Barton, director of the Brewster’s Brewing Company, as a network for female brewers (“known in the industry as brewsters”) to meet regularly and swap tips and brew together. Jane Peyton, author of Beer O’Clock, instigator of Beer Day Britain, and the first winner of the UK’s Beer Sommelier of the Year awards, does not believe that things are changing quick enough. She says “There are still brewers using that laddish imagery, which is bonkers because women are 51% of the population.
It demeans men as well as women and it’s bad for business.” She believes that if beermakers want a lesson on women’s role in beer, they should look to history. “Women were the original brewers of beer … and in the creation myths of many cultures, beer was given to humans by females.” However, she isn’t confident that beermakers will abandon their comfort zone of lads’ culture marketing. “It’s going to take a long time for that to happen,” she says. Let’s hope she’s not right.
The Slingback Beer
What an apt follow up to the article above. Fortune tackles the issue of High Heel Brewing, a brewery that just announced its first two beers, the ‘Slingback’ and the ‘Too Hop’d To Handle’. Their marketing and branding (think loud and pink) is clearly marketed to ‘ladies’, which just seems like a tired old trope (see above). Surprisingly, a woman is at the helm of High Heel Brewing, master brewer Kristi McGuire told USA Today that High Heel is the only woman-run brewery “to cater specifically to women”. Which begs the answer to this question: why do you think that’s necessary?
Fortune leaves us with this choice quote of McGuire’s: “We didn’t want to make a gimmick. We didn’t make the beer pink—we could have—but we didn’t”. Well, that certainly deserves a round of applause. Make my next beer pitch black please, because that’s what the future looks like.
A Big Merger May Flatten America’s Beer Market
Last week New York Times author Bob Pease took at look at the potential impact the Anheuser-Busch InBev SABMiller merger might have on the American beer industry. Anheuser-Busch InBev is the largest beer distributor in the United States and in several states, “the law allows the company to distribute its own beer — and most markets have only one or two distributors”. This effectively means that AB InBev can focus on building and expanding its own brand, while “effectively, and legally, shutting out competing craft brands”.
After the merger this new global corporation will control over 29% of the global beer market and thus will have an even greater ability to “hobble its competitors, at both the production and distribution levels. The enlarged Anheuser-Busch InBev will have more influence over which brands distributors carry, making it harder for smaller companies to get their products onto store shelves. Peas suggest that the Department of Justice should require Anheuser-Busch InBev to “sell off or reduce its share in its distribution network. It should also require the company to modify its anticompetitive incentives to distributors to not deliver other brands of beer. Finally, it could investigate ways to limit the number of additional independent breweries that the company can buy” in hopes of giving the American consumer a varied and exciting beer selection. If the Department of Justice chooses to listen.
Foto: Photo via Shutterstock. Post: Tim Klöcker.