Beverage Dynamics

Beverage Dynamics Jan-Feb 2016

Beverage Dynamics is the largest national business magazine devoted exclusively to the needs of off-premise beverage alcohol retailers, from single liquor stores to big box chains, through coverage of the latest trends in wine, beer and spirits.

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64 Beverage Dynamics • January/February 2016 Light, relies on perceptions of quality. As Lasda notes, they "embody the traditions and craftsmanship of their native country and are created with tried-and-tested tech- niques that offer distinct full fl avor, taste and character." The venerable Guinness brewery also trades on its history. Emma Giles, Guin- ness Brand Director, says "Guinness has always been about beer and people." The iconic stout inspired American home and craft brewers, and she acknowledges the link. "I think many people gravitate to- wards craft because they feel a connection to their story and the passion of the peo- ple who brew it. It's on us at Guinness to do just as good of a job telling American beer drinkers about the countless brewers in Ireland who are every bit as passionate, skillful, and dedicated. We just do things in a slightly more Irish way." Guinness has responded to changing tastes with two initia- tives. This year, they joined the pale lager line-up with Guin- ness Blonde American Lager. According to Giles, "it's pale, clean, and crisp—as it is a lager—but it's quite highly hopped and brewed with the same yeast we use for our stouts, which lends a lot to taste and savor." More tantalizing is The Brewers Project, "charged with de- signing new brews to trial," which recently released Guinness Nitro IPA. More beers in the specialty vein will appear in 2016. SMALL, DIVERSE, FLAVORFUL Just as the craft segment has energized the U.S. beer market in the past decade, a large number of smaller, specialty beers spice up the import menu. The ultimate import chimera might be a limited release from Constellation, available only on draft in Chicago. The company has introduced a beer called Tocayo, jointly developed by Chef Bayless and the brewmaster at Missouri's Perennial Artisan Ales. Tocayo is a white ale—a traditional Belgian style beloved by craft brewers and popularized by Coors' hugely successful Blue Moon. Constellation's Sabis summed up the beer's multifaceted ap- peals: "So we're taking the hottest import segment, Mexican imports, and the hottest segment of craft and putting them to- gether: a Mexican-inspired craft beer." BD JULIE JOHNSON was for many years the co-owner and editor of All About Beer Magazine. She has been writing about craft beer for over twenty years. She lives in North Carolina, where she was instrumental in the Pop the Cap campaign that modernized the state's beer laws. Last year, the company began import- ing its sole Mexican brand, Montejo, into 11 U.S. states, all home to substan- tial Hispanic populations. The conspicuous success of Mex- ican imports defi es any single expla- nation. Constellation's Sabia tends to look to the individual brands and the company's record of connecting with consumers. "Everything begins with the liquid and what is the consumer looking for in the liquid," he says. "But after they say, 'OK, I want this type of product,' then it's all about the branding of that product: the market- ing and the emotional connection. All those consumer touch points along the way that make them proud to drink this product." Population changes and demo- graphics have also put Mexican beers in a golden position as Hispanic numbers grow in the U.S. Mexican imports do not have to be marketed narrowly to Hispanic audiences to ben- efi t. "Hispanic culture is having a profound effect on Amer- ica, infl uencing everything from food and beverages to music, sports, fi lm, fashion and more," Lasda notes. "As this infl uence continues to grow, so too do Mexican beer brands. They have strong appeal among young Hispanic/multicultural consum- ers—a demographic projected to account for 70% of future beer category growth." IRI's Wandel acknowledges what he calls "focus" on the part of both Constellation and HUSA for their success in plac- ing their dozen Mexican brands in the top 20-plus ranks in imported beer sales. And he points out another quality: Mexi- can beers offer an alternative to the higher-alcohol craft beers. "My theory is that you can't expect someone to sit there all night with four or fi ve 8 to 10% ABV craft beers!" he laughs. "Clearly the Mexican imports play in that sweet spot. They offer a sessionable beer while still offering the image of trading up." EUROBREWS Number fi ve-selling Stella Artois is a rare brand: a European premium lager that has kept its shine, with 9.1% growth. The messages supporting the brand have emphasized its appeal as an on-premise drink, with the branded chalice and "nine-step pouring ritual." Gift packs for the 2015 holiday season, however, have attempted to duplicate the experience for home consump- tion, complete with personalized, gold-rimmed glassware. Classic Heineken, though slumping in sales, is still secure in its number three position. Its appeal, and that of Heineken

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