Beer, Bars & Brewers #6

The sun is out and there’s never been a better time for beer! Cheers! Welcome back to our latest edition of Beer, Bars & Brewers.

This week we see the first collab brew, produced in Germany, between Sierra Nevada and Kehrwieder, Brlo is air bound, American craft beer sales are rising, and Smuttynose is changing the distribution system of its limited editions. Good stuff, we hope you enjoy!

First German Collab Brew between Sierra Nevada and Kehrwieder  

In celebration of Kehrwieder’s new brewery Oliver Wesseloh, of creative brewer Kehrwieder, and Scott Jennings, of Sierra Nevada, decided to come together and create a strongly hopped Double India Pale Ale. The two brew masters go way back, having met during their studies in Berlin and bonded over their shared love of Johnny Cash, VW vans, and hops. The result? The Old Skool, a Double IPA with a strong 8,5% Vol., 100 bitter units, and the classic hoppy aromas of the west coast (Amarillo, Simcoe, Columbus, and Chinook). Though Sierra Nevada collaborated with Brauhaus Riegele for last year’s “Oktoberfest” (which was brewed in Chico), this is truly their first collab brew that was produced in Germany. We hope, many more will follow.

Up in the Air with Brlo

Several American airlines have previously sealed the deal and are offering craft beers on board of various flights. Germany’s not one to be outdone and Berlin brewer Brlo is available on Air Berlin flights from the beginning of April. The exclusive partnership will see customers enjoying a canned version of Brlo’s Pale Ale. The 6%er makes use of an array of hops that’ll surely brighten up any long flight. Falstaff reports that the consumer now has the choice between either a Bitburger Pils or the Brlo Pale Ale.

Craft Beer Sales Rising

This really won’t be news to many of you, however it’s always interesting to see mainstream media’s take on the “craft beer sensation”. Last week Fortune published an article explaining that craft beer now makes up 12% of the beer market, doubling its numbers since 2011 and “experts say that number could go up to 20% by 2020”. Author John Kell explains the stagnation in beer sales through the spike in spirit and wine sale, though craft beer is doing its bit to chip away at macro breweries’ profits.

The Brewer’s Association chief economist Bart Watson says “The figures show that there is still a strong growing demand for fuller flavored products from small brewers”. He calls the trend Premiumization, which means customers are willing to pay more money for beers that command a higher price. The BA goes on to state that in 2015 a good 620 new breweries opened while only 68 closed down.

Smuttynose Brewing allows Buyers to call “Dibs”

“In what could be a new trend in the brewery to buyer relationship, Smuttynose debuted its Beer Vault website on March 11, 2016, an allocation tool where buyers are sent an email with the day and time a certain draft-only release is going to be released and those that log in and claim a sixtel will have it added to their distributors sales sheet”.

That’s a lot to take in but The Brewer Magazine breaks it down for you. Basically, as JT Thompson explains, many limited releases won’t really do anything for the sales numbers but they will get customers excited about the brand. What Smuttynose wants to do is get those limited releases to the market without “having our brewery sales reps and our wholesalers spend a bunch of time on it”. The first special release (‘Kisses and Kittens’ – a 3.8 percent barrel-fermented, Brettanomyces saison spiced with orange peel and coriander) sold out within two hours.

However, Thompson does not want to see this platform as a way of bypassing the second tier of distribution: “We are not trying to cut them out of anything, but if there is a better way that we can be a better partner to them where we can both focus on our bigger goals, then we want to help them and help us”. Future releases will be announced by email to every business with a Beer Vault account. Interesting approach to taking distribution into your own hands, and one that’s well suited to the digital age.


Foto: Bottles via Shutterstock. Post: Tim Klöcker.

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