Samuel Adams beer

Forecast for 2017: Craft Beer Turf Wars

The number of craft breweries continues to grow rapidly, while the growth of the craft sector is slowing. Which means something has to give.

Jason Notte of predicts that 2017 will be the year of the turf war; there will be less mergers-and-acquisitions activity and more competition among breweries to claim shelf space.

This could be the year that craft breweries lay off workers and make other cuts in an effort to trim costs. Industry leader Boston Beer Company has been hit hard by shrinking sales of Samuel Adams Boston Lager; the company’s shares have tumbled 50 percent from their 2015 high.

We’re also likely to see more breweries bring in private-equity firms. Already this year, Victory Brewing Company and Southern Tier Brewing Company have formed such partnerships with such firms.

And we’re likely to see smaller brewers focus on taproom traffic and food sales and avoid the battle to get their products on store shelves and on bar and restaurant menus.

Notte believes that Oskar Blues is the brewery to watch because it has been the craft sector’s trend-setter for years. The brewery was the first to can its beers and the first to build a second facility in the eastern United States. Two years ago, it kicked off the private-equity trend when it sold a majority interest to Fireman Capital. It then used some of that money to acquire craft breweries in Michigan, Florida, and Texas; the latter two states are considered underserved beer markets. Oskar Blues also borrowed from the big national brewers’ playbook. It rolled out more mainstream beers, sponsored sporting events, and put an emphasis on brand recognition.

Notte concludes, “Whether drinkers benefit from [this] turf war or become victims of it remains to be seen.”

The Friday Mash (Chili and Frosty Edition)

No, “chili and frosty” isn’t today’s weather report. Those were once the signature items of Wendy’s restaurants, the first of which opened on this day in 1969. Founder Dave Thomas named after it after his daughter Melinda Lou Thomas, known to her family as Wendy.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Germany, where an official of the national health system infuriated psychotherapists by suggesting that a bottle of beer might be more effective than a trip to the couch.

A store in Louisville sells hand-rolled cigars seasoned with Samuel Adams beer. They combine the beer’s sweetness and maple and vanilla flavors with a spicy flavor from the tobacco blend.

In many U.S. states, anti-drunk driving groups have put an end to drive-through beer stores, but they’re still common in Mexico. Some are operated by the Modelo brewery’s parent company.

Last week, the carrier U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford was launched. Founders Brewing Company, located in Ford’s hometown of Grand Rapids, released a special ale to celebrate.

Next February, the University of Kentucky will host a one-day seminar on the importance of beer writing to the craft beer industry. Garrett Oliver is the headline speaker.

Alan Newman, the founder of the Magic Hat Brewing Company, has gone back to basics. His Just Beer Project is a brewery that focuses on traditional beers. His first offering is a session-strength IPA.

Finally, some gift ideas for the beer lover who has everything. Paste Magazine’s ten best items made out of beer cans include a Christmas tree, a corset, and a World War I biplane.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • This year’s production of Pliny the Younger: 307 kegs.
  • Increase over last year: 30 percent.
  • Pliny’s alcohol content: 10.7% ABV.
  • U.K. beer sales last year: 26 million barrels.
  • Change from 2010: Down 3.5 percent.
  • U.S. total spending on beer in 2010: $101 billion.
  • Spending per household on beer: $1.321.
  • Samuel Adams’s production at its Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, brewery: 5,000 barrels per day.
  • Lehigh Valley’s share of Sam Adams’s total production: 2/3.
  • Super Bowls in which Sam Adams has advertised: 1.
  • Cities in which Old Milwaukee Super Bowl’s commercial aired: 1 (North Platte, Nebraska).
  • TV homes to which the commercial was aired: 15,800.
  • Length of the commercial: 52 seconds.
  • Dividend yield on Anheuser Busch InBev shares: 1.7 percent.
  • Yield on SABMiller shares: 2.4 percent.
  • A (Non-Beer) Geek Visits Sam Adams

    Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at who writes a “Geek Gestalt” blog. His travels have taken him to the world’s most advanced submarine, the New York Fed’s gold stash, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. And also the Samuel Adams brewery in Boston.

    Terdiman offers readers–people are technically savvy but might not be beer geeks–a lucid and accessible description of how Sam Adams brews its beer. That said, gimlet-eyed readers of this blog might find something fishy with this sentence: “There are four main vessels used in the brewing process: a mash kettle, a mash tun, a Lauter tuna and a brew kettle.”

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