|The Fix Is In - Beer Ratings
|A small Chinese factory in the Southeastern city
of Dongguan was busted earlier this month for
making counterfeit cans of Budweiser beer.
The underground operation, which has since
been shut down by authorities, was caught on
video. The footage shows factory workers
dunking used Budweiser cans into a tub of what
appears to be beer. The cans are then sent
down a conveyor belt where they appear to be
resealed. At the end of the video, crates of the
beer are packaged and prepared to be shipped.
The factory was producing up to 600,000 cans
of counterfeit beer a month, which were
distributed to bars and nightclubs.
Anheuser-Busch issued a statement that saidt.
“Budweiser takes great care in every detail of its
product and packaging. Cheap counterfeits have
telltale signs that they are fakes such as
imperfect seals, improper date coding, product
name and text that have errors, and poor quality
packaging and graphics.” Interstingly they said
nothing about the taste. Anheuser-Busch
currently operates 14 breweries in China.
|Anheuser-Busch InBev ajust announced a purchased of a
minority stake in RateBeer. The site, founded in 2000,
has grown into one of the more popular beer
communities online, with thousands of reviews and
grades for beers across the world. Sam Calagione
founder and president of Dogfish Head requested that
RateBeer remove all mentions of Dogfish Head and all its
reviews from the RateBeer website. "It just doesn't seem
right for a brewer of any kind to be in a position to
potentially manipulate what consumers are hearing and
saying about beers, how they are rated and which ones
are receiving extra publicity on what might appear to be a
legitimate, 100 percent user-generated platform,"
Calagione said in a statement. "It is our opinion that this
initiative and others are ethically dubious and that the lack
of transparency is troubling."
Dogfish isn't alone in its stance. Burley Oak Brewing
founder Ryan Brushmiller said "."This is another tool for
them to basically continue their anti-competitive pricing
and shady distribution practices," BeerNexus couldn't
agree more and in fact pledges that our beer reviews will
remain totally free of any outside influence or pressure.
|Buyout- While everyone was getting worked up about Wicked Weed and
Lagunitas being purchased, a Boston-based private equity firm called Castanea
Partners picked up a majority stake in a California brewery called The Bruery.
The money men personified are into small breweries, too.
Showdown- MillerCoors is launching a campaign it calls “Know Your Beer.” The
campaign pits Miller Lite against Bud Light, More than 500,000 drinkers will blind
taste both beers and choose a favorite. Consumers will get a cup labeled “A” and a
cup labeled “B.” They’ll evaluate both by look, smell, and taste, then pick. No,
we're not kidding; laughing on the inside doesn't count
Viva Sol - Molson Coors announced that it signed a 10-year import deal to
import, market and distribute the Mexican-made Sol brand to the U.S. market
beginning this fall. Sol, established in 1899, is a pale lager in a green bottle. There is
also a Sol Brava dark beer, Sol with salt and lime, and Sol with Clamato. Mexican
beer is the fastest growing segment of the import beer market.
Craft=Big $ - Craft breweries have claimed their impressive stake- 1-in-8
gallons of beer consumed and 1-in-4 of dollar spent on beer — in relatively solid
economic times. That makes perfect sense, considering the premium price they
charge, double or more the price of mainstream brands.
|Beer Flim Flam
Matthew Curtis, editor of London-based beer industry site Total Ales, took to Twitter
recently to angrily point out that Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Goose Island craft brand was
selling beer in the United Kingdom, Australia and Mexico that is brewed by Italy’s Birra
Del Borgo, which Anheuser-Busch purchased last year and not in Goose Island's home
of Chicago, Il. Sadly, that's old news. Almost immediately after Goose Island sold itself
to Anheuser-Busch InBev for $38.8 million in 2011, ABI began using plants in Fort
Collins, Colo., and Baldwinsville, N.Y., to brew Goose beers, l Goose Island still brews
beers in Chicago, but you have to check the labels to see exactly where they are made.
ABI is far from alone in playing this game. For instance, when you see a can of
Sapporo, named after the Japanese city, and go to the brewery’s site that calls it
“Japan’soldest brand of beer,” you don't assume it’s being brewed in LaCrosse, Wisc.,
or Guelph, Ontario where it actually is made.
Some in craft beer circles do the same thing. Brooklyn Brewery trades on its “Brooklyn”
brand and the image it conjures around the globe. But even in the U.S Brooklyn
Brewery makes beer at facilities like F.X. Matt in Utica, N.Y., just to meet demand. As
Brooklyn itself points out, their lager that’s poured in Australia, Japan, Sweden and
Norway isn't shipped there from New York, but brewed in those countries. Whether it’s
“imported” or even a “Brooklyn” beer is up for greater debate.
Stone Brewing Co., in Southern California opened a brewery in Berlin last year and uses
it to meet the needs of the European market. It puts Stone Berlin on each can, but it
still trades on the legacy and styles that brought it to prominence and that are still
firmly entrenched in Southern California. They also opened a brewery in Richmond, Va.,
last year, is it any less craft or less true to its heritage for doing so? Does it matter that
Boston Beer Co. produces much of its beer, including Samuel Adams’ Boston Lager, in
Cincinnati and Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley?
This question of provenance matters not just because of the premium those breweries
can charge, but because of the audience they can reach. A recent survey found that
among beer drinkers — ages 21 through 34 — 53% felt it was important for a beer to
be “local.” Among craft beer drinkers of the same age, 55% prefer their beer local. Also,
43% of beer drinkers considered information about where the beer was produced to be
an extremely or very important part of a beer’s packaging.
Yes, a beer’s heritage matters to a beer’s legacy and its brand equity. However, to
drinkers who have to pay the price for that Chicago-by-way-of-Fort-Collins-by-way
-of-Italy beer, where it’s brewed matters.
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