Beverage Dynamics

Beverage Dynamics Sept-Oct 2012

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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Page 15 of 51

Though overall beer consumption is slightly down, the industry may be poised for a solid comeback, based on the excitement being created by the growing craft segment. REPORT W BY GERRY KHERMOUCH hen beer company executives, whole- salers and retailers converge on San Diego's Manchester Grand Hyatt for the 75th annual National Beer Wholesalers Association show they'll get an eyeful of a once compact market that has fragmented immensely over the past decade. These days San Diego County counts itself as home to more than 40 craft brewers, from local pioneers Karl Strauss and Pizza Port to Stone Brewing, which has built an international reputation and even talked of open- STATE-OF-THE- INDUSTRY ing a brewery in Europe. That's in a market where domes- tic premiums vie for supremacy with a broadening array of imports that includes even Aussie beers and those from Mexico's burgeoning craft scene across the border. It all makes for an unprecedented stew in a metro whose beer preferences not so long ago reflected its general image as a sleepy, Republican beach town. Travis Markstein, executive vice president and gen- eral manager of Markstein Beverage, which distributes Anheuser-Busch, Crown Imports and others' brands in about two-thirds of San Diego County, marvels at the transformation of the scene there: All the new bars sporting dozens of tap handles (including a couple of dozen "crafty crafters" that won't even carry Stone's Arrogant Bastard, let alone Bud Light); the inroads craft brands have made into even that blue-collar redoubt, the independent liquor stores; the local media's newfound fascination with beer. These days, he said, it's rare for a week to go by that Stone isn't the focus of an article somewhere locally. Within a few miles of the distribu- tor's San Marco base you can find such highly regarded brewers as Ballast Point, Firestone Walker, Lost Abbey and Green Flash. That's certainly transformed his own operations: it has picked up 20 A-B skus just since the first of the year, and another 30 from other suppliers, including Sierra Nevada extensions and craft newcomers like Oceanside Ale Works, Hangar 24 and Golden Road. The total in the shop now is close to 450 skus and "I don't see that ending," Markstein said. Though it brings any number of headaches, it has upped the excitement in beer to a level not seen in recent memory. That sentiment is echoed even by executives at companies Heineken is once again leveraging its partnership with the latest James Bond movie called Skyfall, to be released in November, with a full line- up of 007-themed mer- chandising materials. 16 • Beverage Dynamics • • September/October 2012

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