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Monday morning musing: Beer gaining ground

Having spent much of three days in airports, airplanes and a moving car (a new project I’ll write about here sooner than later) I’m in serious catch-up mode this morning, but early on noticed a post at Miller’s Brew Blog indicating the sales balance between spirits and beer may be beginning to swing back beer’s way.

Makes perfect sense to me since I used my airplane time to breeze through “The Business of Spirits,” which “describes how clever marketing, innovative production methods, and a booming market for luxury goods turned small, family-run business into huge global corporations.”

This could be one of those magazine cover curse things &#151 once a trend turns up on the cover of a prominent magazine (or this case a whole book is devoted to it) that means it has crested. After all, demand for spirits has always been cyclical.

Of course if that is the case then we should start worrying about “craft” beer given the attention that growth in the category is getting. (Today’s Wall Street Journal has a story about Bell’s Brewery and its distribution dispute in Chicago – subscription required.)

An interesting book, although one I’d suggest grabbing out your local library than adding to your own collection. And for fun, one quote:

Soon, says Dave Pickerell, Maker’s Mark master distiller, your drink may become spicy. “The American palate is migrating to the more sweet and will move on to savory,” he says. “The next coming down the pipe is spices.” People usually start with sweeter flavors but as their palates get more experience and mature, they begin gravitating to more bitter and complex tasting spirits. (The same process usually happens with people who eat a lot of chocolate. They started out eating sweeter milk chocolate, and as their palates get more refined, they begin gravitating to increasingly darker and and often more expensive chocolate.)

Back to play catchup.

4 Responses to Monday morning musing: Beer gaining ground

  1. Evan Rail December 10, 2007 at 9:51 am #

    A very interesting idea — just as individuals have palates, there is something like a collective palate, and the collective American appreciation for taste and flavor can grow and develop every bit as much as an individual’s.

    My mind is blown.

  2. Eric Delia December 10, 2007 at 12:17 pm #

    Lately I’ve been seeing the issues surrounding food, and especially beer, as one and the same, or at least similar. That’s part of what I’ve been getting at in some of my previous posts, but really looking at the market trend side of things. I didn’t calculate spirits into the equation, but I can see that kind of “palate evolution” occurring with those as well.

    Now I’m starting to see this whole thing on an even bigger scale, and I’m positive the top dogs in both beer and spirits have been taking note.

  3. Lew Bryson December 10, 2007 at 9:25 pm #

    Miller’s Brew Blog has some great points, but that of being a Miller “homer” first and a beer homer second is not one of them. There’s a blip…and there’s a trend. Speaking from the whisky side of the fence (a fence I straddle quite handily, thank you), we don’t see any real evidence of spirits stumbling. At least, not brown spirits. As far as I’m concerned, vodka could stumble, trip, tumble, and break its neck. Whisky has a lot of coincidence with craft beer, though.

  4. Todd December 12, 2007 at 9:24 am #

    “Your drink may become spicy”- nice. About time. ‘Tis it time for the adjunct bitters and spices? Becherovka style? If it’s beer, I may want to taste more than one beer, so not tooo spicy. But the bitters,,,, I may want more than one beer,, of what flavor again? I think I have far more than one idea for beer or spirits. Exciting times!

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