Cheers June 2015

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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Page 41 of 51 42 • June 2015 Matt Lienhard, Plank's bar manager. If guests seem set in their drinking ways with a macro brand, "I will try to get them to try a craft beer," he notes. Lienhard will even go as far as to recommend and buy the guest a craft beer, "and then follow up with them to see if they like it." MOVING TO MICRO Even most Millennial customers likely had their fi rst beer from one of the big brands. So how did so many drinkers end up devoted to craft? "I do think craft steals from macro to some degree," Howard says. "I think that many of these domestic craft brands, like Blue Moon and Leinenkugel's, end up stealing from their companies' own market share." And the Blue Moon drinker will experiment, he adds. "Then they'll try another white ale, and that may lead them to move more into craft beer." Light craft can be a gateway into the broader segment. And there has never been a wider selection of lighter microbrews, which have been gaining ground against IPAs and other high- gravity beers. "Back in 2005 when I fi rst opened, I only had one light beer on tap, Abita Light pilsner," recalls Jimmy Carbone, owner of Jimmy's No. 43 Craft Beer and Kitchen in New York. "That was our concession to light beer." The bar's tap list is now 50/50 with IPAs, pilsners and lagers, Carbone says. "I do feel like the pendulum had swung toward hoppiness. Even the dark beers and lagers had hops in them. I would have customers asking me, 'Do you have anything that's not hoppy?'" Carbone's lighter offerings now include the likes of Victory Helles Lager and Folksbier Morning Dew, as well as beers by Flagship, Firestone Walker, Brooklyn Brewery, Green Flash, East Village and Urban Chestnut. "Perhaps lagers and pilsners are more approachable from macro," Carbone says. "And perhaps they're also easier to match with food. The market for craft lagers and pilsners is defi nitely going to go up." NOT LIGHT ON FLAVOR Light craft beers may have lagged behind IPAs because of the American drinkers' assumption that hops means greater fl avor. "Light beer can have a bad reputation when it comes to fl avor," explains Plank's Lienhard. "But many of our microbreweries don't agree with that. Light beers are able to offer such different taste profi les. Even pilsners can taste so different, which allows the clientele to taste all different kinds of beers." What's happened at Jimmy's No. 43 Craft Beer and Kitchen has become a common occurrence. Walk into most any craft- beer bar nowadays and you will see a menu more balanced between hops and light. "Everyone's palate is different, and our taste buds change every few years," says Lienhard. "There are now more blondes and Kölsch-style ales emerging. Myself, I've always been a fan of the alabaster Abbey Blonde." Popular light beers at Plank include The Linden Street Common Lager, Ale Industries Golden State of Mind Wit, and The North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner. "You may fi nd yourself going towards those lighter taste profi les after having had too many hops," Lienhard says. SIT DOWN SESSION Session beers have become a booming subcategory within light craft. These are low-ABV, usually 4% to 6%. Sometimes they have one hop for minor bitterness. The name "session" implies that, in terms of intoxication or calories, a consumer could safely drink several of these brews in a single session. Which is also the point of macro light. "Alcohol and calories obviously go hand-in-hand in beer," says Beaumont. "So while session beers are not pointing out that they're 4.2%, that's less caloric intake than a Budweiser." Into the Light Jimmy's No. 43 Craft Beer and Kitchen in New York opened 10 years ago with just one light beer on tap, Abita Light pilsner. Session beer straddles the markets between macro and micro, hoppy and smooth: "People lean more toward sessionable beer in spring and summer. In cooler weather, the category is not as popular." — Matt Lienhard, bar manager of Plank beer garden in Oakland, CA

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