It's Craft Beer Time!

The Lempert Report
November 03, 2014

Americans have always loved beer, but a more recent trend is the growing love for more artisanal craft beers.

Americans have always loved beer, but a more recent trend is the growing love for more artisanal craft beers. 

According to The Brewers Association, the production of local beers is 18% ahead in mid-2014 vs. a year ago. Craft beer sales have risen at least 10% in each of the first six-month periods of the past four years. According to the Boston Consulting Group analysis of Brewers Association statistics, U.S. consumption of domestic and import beers has been virtually flat since 1999. By contrast, craft beer production jumped more than 80% in just the past five years, from 117 million cases in 2008 to 215 million cases in 2013. 

 So, the question is, is it time for Supermarkets to take advantage? Already at certain Kroger, Weis Markets, and Lunds & Byerly’s stores, in-store counters serve local craft brews in addition to a few varied imports and domestic beers, served in growlers for on- or off-premise consumption.   The growlers seem ideal for tasty, quick refreshment with a friend in a beer café or to quench thirsts at a football tailgate. 

If more supermarkets devise ways to sell craft brews (and others) in growlers or Keurig beverage-style dispensers – either for on-site beer cafe or at-home drinking – they’ll vie for popularity as social drinking sites, strip distribution costs vs. cans and glass, and make it much easier for people to access their favorite craft brew flavors. Supermarkets that check local laws may find limited or no restrictions against their installation of in-store beer cafes. 

Meanwhile, a Starbucks test of a drink it calls Dark Barrel Latte in a “handful” of Ohio and Florida stores, reported by USA Today, hints at possible demand for beer flavors all day long. The Starbucks “stout flavor” is really a “roasted malt flavor” containing no alcohol.  

If suppliers believe demand does exist for beer flavors throughout the day, we might also soon see an infusion of this in pastas, breads, sauces, prepared meats and numerous categories storewide.  But in the meantime, perhaps supermarkets can push for craft beers.