Trendy Beers: A Bad Business Decision?

Boston Beer Company’s slumping sales have been a topic of conversation in the craft beer community. Author Jeff Alworth blames the company’s propensity to chase trends. Alworth explains:

Boston Beer has made a series of decisions that may have resulted in short-term profits–spinning off alcoholic apple juice, tea, and seltzer divisions–but they enhanced the sense that this was a big company as bland and personality-free as Kellogg’s or Proctor and Gamble. No one could ever fault Sam Adams for failing to release new beers, but the ever-multiplying new lines of random beer types (IPAs, barrel-aged beers, nitro cans) has created a brewery with no there there.

Trend-chasing isn’t limited to Boston Beer. Breweries across the country are scrambling to bring out their versions of grapefruit IPAs, golden ales, and New England IPAs. If the past is any indication—remember the wheat beers of the 1990s?—today’s fad beers stay trendy very long.

According to Alworth, breweries that specialize in trendy beers fail to establish a connection with their customers. That connection is more important with beer than with other consumer products. He cites four examples—Sierra Nevada, Hill Farmstead, Schlenkerla, and Genesee—each of which has a distinct “personality”. Those personalities are built in collaboration with their drinkers, who expect the beer will embody that personality.

The Friday Mash (Day of the Dead Edition)

Today marks the second day of Mexico’s Day of the Dead observance. During the 1990s, this tradition inspired Rogue Ales to brew Dead Guy Ale for Casa U Betcha in Portland, Oregon. The ale, perhaps the best-known of Rogue’s beers, is now available in much of the country.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Virginia, where the Capitol City Brewing Company’s offer of a free pint for an “I Voted” sticker was found to be in violation of state law.

Your family Bible doesn’t mention beer, but according to Dr. James Bowley, a professor of religious studies at Millsaps College, beer culture flourished among the Israelites of Old Testament times.

During his contract negotiations with the Washington Redskins, Chris Cooley asked the club to throw in a case of beer. Cooley didn’t say which brand.

Here comes another brewing industry merger. Cerveceria Costa Rica agreed to buy North American Breweries, which owns the Magic Hat and Pyramid brands and also sells Genesee and Labatt beer in the U.S.

If you have $540,000, and would like to own a brewery, here’s your chance. Dan Humphrey, the owner of the Michigan Beer Cellar, has decided to sell his business. He’s had it with 16-hour days.

Pete Brown’s latest book, Shakespeare’s Local: Six Centuries of History Seen Through One Extraordinary Pub, is now in print. It’s the story of the George Inn, London’s last surviving galleried coaching inn.

Finally, Dr. Michael Lewis, a professor at the University of California, Davis, says that the familiar “shaker pint” is an awful glass for serving fresh beer because it’s wider at the top than at the bottom.

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