Sexy Data: 2010 Beer Buying Preferences and Insights [With Poll]

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s the start of statistics season.  The first noteworthy report I’ve seen is from Mintel Intelligence, which highlights some interesting trends.  

First is what we already knew about the domestic beer scene.  13% of beer drinkers say they prefer American craft beers (this jibes with the 12.9% of the beer market craft beer is estimated to hold), while 43% prefer macro swill and 22% prefer imported brews.  I’m not sure what the other 22% preferred, but I feel safe calling it “other” on the chart above. Wine coolers maybe?

Overall, the outlook is pretty sunny for domestic craft brews, as 59% of folks polled say they like to try them and 51% said they’d try craft beers if they knew more about them.  Well I say send ’em here and we’ll school ’em up!  I could create a private army of barrel-aged stout drinkers!!  Anyway, this tells us that over half of the beer drinkers out there are open to trying a craft beer, which is a very good thing.

But while they’re open to it, it seems price is holding some people back from diving head first into the world of craft beer.  41% of people who responded said they save craft beer as a treat because of cost.

Speaking of finances, the Great Recession is influencing the craft beer buying as well.  29% said they are drinking less craft beer than the year before because of the economy, but these Negative Nancy’s are offset by another 29% of respondents who say they are drinking more craft beer as an “affordable luxury” in these uncertain times.  So it’s a wash of sorts, but it also points to a potential craft beer boom once the current financial crisis stops screwing around with our lives.

While this data is interesting, I thought it’d be fun to have our own, less scientific poll to see how you B&WB readers are spending your hard earned dough.  Please take a minute to respond to the polls below so we can see how our little galaxy compares to the rest of the beer drinking universe.









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Categories: Beer, Poll


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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22 Comments on “Sexy Data: 2010 Beer Buying Preferences and Insights [With Poll]”

  1. December 29, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    Interesting stuff. I wonder, is ANY imported beer considered Craft Beer, or is that an American-only thing?

    I bet a part of that mystery percentage is for ‘Craft-Like Beer’ like Blue Moon.

    • December 29, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

      They have a category for “imported” beer, and the stats are for “domestic craft beer” so I think that’s what it is.

    • Matt
      December 29, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

      I only buy craft beer, mostly American, and have spent more on it this year than last. I have spent more this year mainly because I started brewing this year and I wanted to expose my palate to more styles and ingredients.

      The realist inside me is a bit concerned about the craft beer industry as it gains more market share. As we have seen with Blue Moon the buying public is easily tricked into thinking a product represents craft beer when it is actually produced by the politically corrupt macro group. The big three have already started putting beer on shelves that looks like craft beer, but uses inferior ingredients and brewing techniques. I was tricked a couple years ago by what I thought was a craft pumpkin beer. After I popped one open and it tasted like completely garbage I dug around on the packaging a bit. It turned out to be brewed in the Michelob factory. This may have already been done, but one way around it is for true craft brewers to start a nationwide group similar to “Real California Cheese/Milk” so they can campaign and label their genuine products.

      • December 29, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

        I think a big part of craft beer is education. I’d like to know what the Brewer’s Association plans on doing to help the average beer drinker know the difference between real craft beer and the fake stuff from the big boys.

      • December 29, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

        That would be a great idea to label craft beers as such. The trouble would come for those breweries unable to pay dues, assuming they’d be steep in order to coordinate such a campaign.

        Still, I feel our craft beer community is incredibly aware of what’s distributed in our state. That’s just in Missouri, where our selection is somewhat limited but improving, no thanks to a certain brewery located in StL. I can’t imagine keeping track of which breweries are craft and which are posers in states like Pennsylvania, New York, or California.

        • December 29, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

          Maybe the Brewer’s Association can come up with a “BA Certified Craft Beer” stamp or something, kind of like USDA Prime meat.

          But you’re right, most craft beer folks aren’t going to be fooled, and if they are, only until they drink the stuff.

          If they’re till fooled, then at least the big boys brewed a beer that can satisfy a beer geek.

  2. December 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    The only “imports” I buy are craft beers as well. I’m thinking Mikkeller, Cantillon, Nøgne ø, and the like are the import equivalents of American craft brewers. My spending on craft beer has certainly gone up this past year, but my spending on other things has gone down. I’ve been planning a tattoo for almost two years that my beer habit won’t allow me to get. My wardrobe is turning into rags as I buy more beer every month. Even my record consumption has dropped off a bit this year in favor of more beer.

    I always tell people beer is an affordable luxury that’s worth the extra cash. If one wants the best wine in the world, he has to be rich. We all can afford the best beers in the world. It’s completely worth the expense.

    • December 29, 2010 at 1:44 pm #

      I agree 100% on how beer allows you to afford the best in the world, which is awesome.

      My buying is up this year as well, but it might be going down soon as I try to deplete my out-of-control beer collection. I need to buy less and drink more. Poor me!

      • December 29, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

        My wife would say that I need to buy less, but I think I’ve hit a level of equilibrium. A steady stream goes in and out of my collection. I have my cellar divided into three sections: drink now, don’t drink all at once, and cellared beers.

        The first group comes and goes. It mostly consists of IPA’s, seasonal beers, sessionable brews, and anything that should be consumed fresh.

        The second group is usually higher ABV beers with the option of cellaring or drinking ASAP. Typically, I put all the RIS’s, special releases, sours, etc. on this shelf.

        The third shelf is mainly barley wines of various ages, but there are a few oddballs mixed in. I keep all my Stone Verticals here in preparation for 12/12/12, for example.

        This tiered system has allowed me to both maintain a nice stash and consume at a pleasurable rate.

        • December 29, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

          Sounds like a god system, Zac. I have all my beers mixed together in boxes I store in the garage, which stays at about 50 degrees this time of year. I really need to sort through them…

      • December 29, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

        It drives my wife crazy, but I take up a closet in our basement with my beer. We have limited storage, but this particular closet is exposed to the foundation and stays pretty cool year-round. Jim, what do you do when it gets warm?

        • December 29, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

          Ruin my beer. 😦

          Actually, I need to come up with a plan. Last summer wasn’t bad out there, and I didn’t have as many bottles as I do now. I think I’ll organize them, keep them boxed and move them into the basement when I put the air conditioners in the window and to the garage when I take the air conditioners out. Just another heavy thing to lug around as the seasons change.

      • December 29, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

        It might be time to invest in a beer fridge. I’m going to ask for one for my birthday by using the closet as a bargaining chip. That or the tattoo I can’t afford.

        • December 29, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

          Sad thing is that I have a beer fridge. It’s my “drink now” shelf. Everything else rotates in when the time is right.

  3. Chris
    December 29, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

    I have a question: Do you consider Leinenkugel and Sam Adams “craft” or, as S-TBC put it, “Craft-Like Beer”?

    Personally, to an enthusiastic novice like myself, I consider them gateway beers, if only because of their accessibility and reasonable pricing. You get a taste of the smaller, craftier styles, but without busting your wallet or alienating your noobie palate.

    Lately, I’ve been trying more local and regional beers, and it has been an adventure!

    • December 29, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

      I still consider Sam Adams a craft beer maker because of how they brew. And while I enjoy a Summer Shandy when the world heats up, Leinie’s was purchased by SABMiller in the late 80’s, and I kind of consider them a half-craft/half-macro gateway brewery at best.

      Still, if they lead folks off the beaten path, that’s cool with me!

      • December 29, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

        Wait. Has there been a gateway beer discussion here before? 😉

        I’m with you on the Sam Adams, but I rarely buy/drink any of it (sans the Infinium I’m saving for NYE). Leinenkugel hasn’t met my lips in a long, long time.

  4. December 29, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    I’m way over the top on spending for domestic craft and some imports (mainly Belgian) and I don’t plan on slowing down in 2011. I’ve tried too many good beers this year and now my quest is to find more.

    • December 29, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

      It seems there’s an almost inexhaustible amount of them out there and new ones emerging all the time. It’s no time to slow down!!

  5. Nicole
    December 29, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    I drink mostly American craft beer, but we also love some imported beers that I would consider craft as well (Trappists, Nogne O, Brew Dog, etc). We cut back on our beer purchasing this year but the prices have been going up so much it hasn’t helped the wallet like we were hoping. At least we’re moving soon and I can get back to homebrewing!

    • December 29, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

      I enjoy the imported craft beers as well, but for the most part I can’t justify the extra cost for them when there are so many cheaper homegrown alternatives. Over the past year, my percentage of imported beer has gone down from the 20’s to the 10’s or less.

      I also agree about homebrewing. It’s a great way to save money while drinking (hopefully) good beer.

  6. Greg K.
    December 30, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    My wallet took a BIG hit this year as I got heavier into craft beers. Especially later in the year as all of the big stouts are coming out. November/December were not kind to my checking account. They were plenty kind to me though haha

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