Cheers March 2013

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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GLOBAL APPEAL Imported beers coexist with the U.S. craft movement By Thomas Henry Strenk W About 25% of the draft beers at Lazy Dog Café are imports. ith their centuries of brewing experience, worldwide reputations and global distribution networks, import brands still command prestige in the U.S. beer market today. After all, those foreign brewers were the originators of the beer styles now emulated by aspiring American micros. On the flip side, there is a craft scene emerging overseas inspired by the success of the craft movement on this side of the Pond. There are plenty of on-premise opportunities tailormade for the import category, and customers are willing to pay premium prices for premium beers of the world. Overall, the imported beer category grew by 1.3% in 2011, according to Beer Handbook 2012, published by Cheers parent company Beverage Information Group. But the 10 leading imported brands surpassed that, growing 2.4% during that time period. Mexican brands dominated, with five powerhouse labels in the top 10: Corona Extra and Corona Light, Modelo, Dos Equis and Tecate. The other top players are familiar names: Heineken, Stella Artois, Guinness, Labatt and Newcastle. Together those leading imports accounted for the lion's share of category volume, reports the Beverage Information Group, or more than 278 million 2.25-gallon cases sold in 2011. Fastest-growing among the top-10 brands was the sole Belgian brand. Stella Artois saw gains of nearly 22% in 2011. That growth in part reflects mounting U.S. consumer interest in the overall Belgian import category. Iconoclastic Belgian brewing styles have many adherents among American beer geeks. "Belgian ales have become very popular," says Gabriel Caliendo, vice president of food and beverage for the Huntington Beach, CA-based Lazy Dog Café. In fact, the 13-unit casual-dining chain has devoted a section on its bottle list to that country. "Belgium is making a lot of interesting beers," he notes. About 25% of Lazy Dog's draft beers are imports such as Guinness, Newcastle and Stella Artois. Corona and Heineken ($4.95) can be found on the bottle list. Belgian beers are the MARCH 2013 | 49

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