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But, Stan, where are the feel-good beer links?

MONDAY BEER LINKS, AND SAD SHAKING OF THE HEAD, 05.04.15

Lake Louie’s Craft Beer Week event at strip club prompts brouhaha.
I suppose you could file this under “Will they ever learn?” Lake Louie owner/brewmaster Tom Porter actually said this: “If we take this all too seriously we’ll be in trouble. This is a fun, emerging new industry and I’ve seen it get to where there’s a lot of beer snobs out there.” I can only repeat what I wrote two weeks ago about this total lack of awareness when it comes to treating women as objects.

Last week the attention turned to boneheaded marketing for Bud Light. It’s astonishing how many people signed off on “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night” before it made it onto Bud Light labels. And stories that followed generated these tweetable facts:

– On the current management team, as listed on the company’s Web site, 13 of 14 members are men. Overall at the company, 17 percent of full-time, salaried Anheuser-Busch employees are women, a 2014 company report shows. That’s down from 29 percent in 2011.
– The slogan was among 140 different sayings printed on bottles as part of the brand’s “Up For Whatever” campaign. Most of them are trivial, like “the perfect beer for when you’re eating breakfast meats outside of breakfast hours.”
– Bud Light’s “buzz” score fell from 6 on Monday to zero as of Thursday morning, according to the YouGov BrandIndex, which measures daily brand consumer perception. The average score for domestic beers is currently 4. Among women, Bud Light fell from a 5 to -3.
– There were 45,600 tweets about Bud Light from 12 a.m. on April 28 through 12 p.m. on April 30, compared with 3,900 tweets during the same period the previous week.
– At last year’s “Whatever USA” event held in Crested Butte, Colo., about 37,000 pieces of content were created, including thousands of pieces of user-generated content shared over social media, reaching 15 million consumers.

Live by the social media sword, die by the social media sword. [Via The Cap Times & other outlets]

Over a Barrel: The Rising Cost for a Specialty Beer.
Reporter’s Notebook: Why I Wanted to Write About Barrels.
As Oliver Gray put it on Twitter, “Answering a ton of questions I’ve had about barrel-aging beer (some I didn’t even know I had).” And that was before the second of Bryan Roth’s two posts. I will only add a bit of math. A typical wine barrel holds 59 gallons, or about 629 12-ounce servings, while a typical bourbon barrel has a 53-gallon (565 12-ounce servings) capacity. Consider those numbers when you calculate what a $50 or $80 or $225 increase in barrel prices means for the single bottle you are buying. [Via This Is Why I’m Drunk]

So this tweet seems appropriate

Trouble brewing between Great Dane and Madison Craft Beer Week organizers.
Yikes, Lake Louie wasn’t the only one ruffling feathers during Madison Beer Week. In a story before the event organizer Jay Glazer said, “(Madison) has gone from being a fairly standard beer oriented market to a very adventurous beer market. When I first got here it was Great Dane and Capital and that was about it.” He went on to praise new, very small breweries for “doing such strange and creative things with beer that simply didn’t exist in 2006.” In a statement on its Facebook page, Great Dane wrote that this speaks “to the same unsettling trend in America’s craft beer movement, where breweries whose ‘raison d’être’ is to only make extreme beers, are shown more appreciation than those who take a more even-keeled approach.” [Via The Cap Times]

1) MillerCoors Slapped with Class Action Suit.
2) A Flood of Lawsuits, and Too Much Blue Moon Beer.
3) How Blue Moon made ‘craft beer’ meaningless.
4) Being Keith Villa.
5) Column: Blue Moon class action suit confuses the issues.
6) Blue Moon: Peter, Paul & Mary or Trini Lopez?

The first two links include the basic information about the class action suit that led to giggling in some quarters, astonishment in others, and that assures we will once again be drowning in the “what is craft?” discussion that will not die. In fact, in #5 Joe Stange writes, “Do we really need to have this conversation again?” … but dashes off a quick 1,197 words. I posted #6 almost eight years ago, and the topic was not at all new then. In addition, there is a missing link, a story that appeared in the March issue of All About Beer magazine that examines the origins and use of the term “craft beer” as it has evolved during the last 30 years in the United States. There were avenues I started down in researching the story — such as what elements of the Arts and Craft movement relate to “craft beer” — that could grenerate endless bar arguments. I understand how that works. I don’t know how many thousands words have been spilled here, but I suspect that none of them are new any more.

Put another way, I don’t have anything to add except a whimsical thought. Three years ago, when I visited Colorado for the interviews that resulted in #4, Villa said, “We don’t pay attention to those (craft) definitions.” But Pete Coors, chairman of MillerCoors, was not at all shy about talking about how angry the Brewers Association definition made him because he considered Blue Moon a craft beer. In #3, an interview conducted before the class action suited was filed but amazingly timely, Villa said, “I’ve always considered us a craft brewery from the day I started Blue Moon to even now and in the future.”

So what happens if this class action suit moves along? Could there come a time that MillerCoors and Blue Moon turn to an “absolute defence” (explaining they call Blue Moon a “craft beer” because think it is)? In which case it could be up to the court to decide what is “craft beer.” Like that would settle anything. [Via multiple sources]

Finally, another tweet that seems relevant

9 Responses to But, Stan, where are the feel-good beer links?

  1. Alan May 4, 2015 at 5:58 am #

    It would be nice if I didn’t have to “consider” the cost increase instead of having the alleged economic explanation avoid it’s own conclusion. How many times are barrels reused? How long do each batch stay in them? Why is the cost not amortized over batches over time and not just the original outlay in relation to the first batch? Do all styles of barrel aged beer rely on the same portion of investment in a barrel? Is the mark up after expenses a flat dollar or a percentage of expenses leading to higher profit per batch even with higher expenses? I’d love to consider the answer to some of those questions.

    • Stan Hieronymus May 4, 2015 at 6:27 am #

      All fine questions for Bryan.

  2. Alan May 4, 2015 at 7:20 am #

    Reminds me too much of the penny a bottle rise in hops in 2008 or so that led to dollars on a six pack.

    • Stan Hieronymus May 4, 2015 at 7:30 am #

      Ah, that’s a question I understand. It is ridiculous that a bottle gets marked up on a percentage basis every step of the way (and usually rounded up while doing so).

  3. Alan May 4, 2015 at 8:06 am #

    If I had a nickel for every rounding up…

  4. Matthew Chrispen May 4, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    Congratulations Stan… I believe you now write Craft articles and books, good ones I should add. You should probably trade make that before I do. Time to make the sausage!

  5. Joe Stange May 5, 2015 at 6:10 am #

    The Blue Moon suit raises the c-word discussion to its own detriment. That’s only one part of the suit. Notably, as I say in the Draft column, it raises other more salient issues related to truth in labeling — especially place of manufacture. Sadly it’s not as sexy as riling up Blue Moon fans and the craft crowd.

    • Stan Hieronymus May 5, 2015 at 7:17 am #

      Going into depth attempting to define “craft” seems irresistible – as illustrated by your column – and I agree that it gets in the way of matters I would like to see discussed. Not only place of manufacture, but who is overseeing it.

      For instance, Schlafly is very involved at the places that make a small portion of its beers. Chase Healey doesn’t just call up Choc Beer (which makes brews most of what Prairie Artisan sells) and say, “Make me a black farmhouse ale with some fruity Australian hops.” That is not always the case with other beers made under contract. A different discussion than Blue Moon and craft, I know, but where transparency is as important.

  6. Alan May 5, 2015 at 7:25 am #

    If this were ever to get in front of a judge they will rule that craft beer has all the conceptual integrity of the snap, crackle and pop of Rice Crispies. With any luck this will cure us all of any sense of irresistability by pointing out its meaninglessness and its actual underlying purposes. Findings like these might shred the umbrella of “craft” marketing and start the process of differentiating the sectors now sheltering under it for convenience and profit. An actual (1) small (2) brewing association would be the one welcome subsector which could come out of the BA shadow.

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