Not to say that we’re falling behind in other areas, but Europeans are tuned-into America’s lead when it comes to downsizing their palates in favor of niche, funky, unusual and quirky suds. The Big Beer folks on the other side of the Atlantic are feeling a little nervous. Shaky because mass-made lagers are no longer the end-all for guzzlers in other western countries.
Taking a hit are the producers of Stella Artois and Heineken. Why do you think that the green bottle people have co-opted 007 in the latest Bond flick?
With craft brews soaring over 10% here in the States, exports have shot-up around 50% for our European mates. And there’s a lot of room to grow in 2013 considering that “small, independent and traditional” breweries only shipped a little less than 6-million barrels.
Waking from its sleep, Molson Coors Brewing, Anheuser-Busch, Carlsberg and Heiney have poured billions into snatching-up local beer gardens.
Take a look at Britain. In merely 10-years craft breweries have more than doubled to a staggering 1-thousand. That means in Merry Olde London and other limey parts doled-out more than 250-million pints last year.
Big Beer sees the writing on the label. They know that craft beers command a higher price and are rapidly becoming a status-tickler. Drinkers like the history behind these Davids. It’s definitely more interesting than the factory culture of the former Goliaths.
But then there’s the whipping post that the newly acquired craft brewers are experiencing. No one like a traitor and some purists look at the change of management as tinkling on their special finds.
Carlsberg may be getting it. They opened a division in Falkenberg, Sweden called Backyard Brewery. Using ingredients that are not the standard fare when creating a lager, they might have a model going for them. Look on the shelf. See if you can find a bottle of their first roll-out called Lawn Mower. Those who’ve quaffed a stein say it even comes with “grassy notes.”
Another example comes from Miller Coors. They set-up a relationship with SABMiller and Molson Coors. When you flip-open a Leinenkugel or the Belgian white Blue Moon, you’re participating in the next phase for the company.
As they hacks will say, “Only time will tell.” However, it would seem like the age of bland, yellow stuff may be making some room for the unusual. It’s the old adage all over again, “Money talks and bull piss walks.”
Stan Schubridge is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Stan writes mostly for Beertaps.com