imported beer

Caveat Emptor

Brad Tuttle of Time magazine has a warning for beer drinkers: What you see on the label might not be true.

One example is deception as to a beer’s provenance. Tuttle mentions beers that are advertised as “Vermont ales” when in fact they’re brewed elsewhere. One brewer of “Vermont ale” is located in Berkeley, California; another is based in upstate New York.

“American” is a time-honored way to make products more appealing, and Budweiser exploited this tactic to the hilt by renaming Budweiser “America” last year. Problem is, the brand is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, a conglomerate headquartered in Belgium.

Some beers try to pass themselves off as “imported”. Even though they bear foreign breweries’ names, they’re brewed in the U.S. A couple of years ago, Anheuser-Busch got slapped with a lawsuit over domestically-brewed Beck’s beer. A-B didn’t admit fault, but agreed to pay Beck’s drinkers up to $50 in the settlement; and the suit apparently made it more careful about advertising claims.

“Craft” is another possible source of deception. Here the legalities get trickier: the Brewers Association has laid down criteria for what breweries qualify as “craft”, but the BA’s definition isn’t universally accepted in the industry. That said, the mega-brewers behind Blue Moon (launched as an experiment by Coors Brewing) and Goose Island (acquired by A-B) haven’t gone out of their way to disclose those brands’ current ownership.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Average price of a 1/3-liter draft beer in Lausanne, Switzerland: $17.60 (highest in the world).
  • Average price of a 1/3-liter draft beer in New York City: $9.22.
  • Average price of a 1/3-liter draft beer in Bratislava, Slovakia: $2.80.
  • Average cost of a pint of beer in 2016: $3.99.
  • Average cost (adjusted for inflation) of a pint of beer in 1952: $5.93.
  • Craft beer’s sales growth in the first half of 2016: 6 percent.
  • Imported beer’s sales growth in the first half of 2016: 6.7 percent.
  • Grams of carbohydrates in a bottle of Michelob Ultra: 2.6.
  • Grams of carbohydrates in a bottle of Bud Light: 6.6.
  • Pounds of spent grain produced by New Belgium Brewing at its Fort Collins, Colorado, brewery: 73 million.
  • Spent grain’s share of brewery by-products: 85 percent.
  • Style categories in this year’s Great American Beer Festival competition: 96.
  • Estimated number of beers expected to be entered in this year’s GABF competition: 7,000.
  • Beers to be poured at this weekend’s Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival: 1,107.
  • Breweries that will pour at the MBG Summer Beer Festival: 125.
  • Beer…By the Numbers

  • Craft beer production in 2015: 24.5 million barrels.
  • Increase over 2014: 13 percent.
  • Craft beer’s share of the market, as measured by production: 12 percent.
  • Its market share, as measured by dollar value: 21 percent ($22.3 billion).
  • Percentage of under-30 adults who said beer was their favorite beverage in 1992-93: 70.
  • Percentage of under-30 adults who said beer was their favorite beverage 20 years later: 40.
  • “Pay-for-play” fine imposed on distributor Craft Brewers Guild by Massachusetts liquor regulators: $2.6 million.
  • Craft Brewers Guild’s payoffs to bars and other businesses: At least $120,000.
  • Dollar value of Heineken’s U.S. sales during the 52 weeks ending January 24, 2016: $730.7 million.
  • Increase over the previous year: 1.9 percent.
  • Heineken’s share of the imported beer market: 13.1 percent (down 1.2 percent from the year before).
  • Years since Guinness opened its brewery at St James’s Gate in Dublin: 257.
  • Years remaining on Guinness’s lease for the St James’s Gate brewery: 8,743.
  • Flavored beers’ share of new beer releases in 2010: 15 percent.
  • Flavored beers’ share in 2015: 27 percent.
  • Beer…By the Numbers

  • Breweries that will enter a beer in this year’s Great American Beer Festival competition: 1,360.
  • Increase over last year’s competition: 610 (81 percent).
  • Breweries that asked to pour beer at this year’s GABF: 822.
  • Number of breweries that can be accommodated at the GABF venue: 726 (including 96 tables for sponsors).
  • Craft beer’s share of the U.S. market in 1988: 2.6 percent.
  • Its share of the U.S. market in 2013: 8 percent.
  • Imported beer’s share of the U.S. market in 1988: 8.4 percent.
  • Its share of the U.S. market in 2013: 14 percent.
  • Corona Extra’s U.S. sales in 2013: 7.26 million barrels.
  • Modelo Especial’s U.S. sales in 2013: 3.6 million barrels.
  • U.S. annual per capita spending on beer: $356.20.
  • Canada’s annual per capita spending on beer: $351.89.
  • Australia’s annual per capita spending on beer: $747.90.
  • Percent of American men who say they can’t go an entire week without beer: 27.
  • Percent who say they can’t go an entire week without pizza: 31.
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