Sexy Data: You’re Buying the Wrong Beer!

Look, sit down, we need to talk.

It’s been brought to my attention that many craft beer buyers are doing it wrong.  Now I’m not saying that you’re doing it wrong, but you’re a craft beer buyer, and these statistics show that  many of your peers are buying the wrong beer.  I hate to think that you’d fall into the same trap and throw away your future like that!  If all of your friends  bought Blue Moon, would you too?  I’d hope not, but the statistics don’t lie.

The Brewer’s Association recently shared craft beer purchasing data for drug, grocery and convenience stores.  And I don’t like what I’m seeing, not one bit.  Here’s the data: 

Top 5 Craft Styles and Segment Share:

1. Seasonal 18.1

2. Pale Ale 15.3

3. India Pale Ale 10.4

4. Amber Ale 10

5. Amber Lager 8.5

Fastest Growing Craft Styles by Percentage:

1. Pilsner +47.3%

2. Scottish-Style Ale +40%

3. Belgian-Style Ale +37.2%

4. Belgian-Style Wit +34.6%

5. India Pale Ale +33.5

Fastest Declining Craft Styles by Percentage:

1. Light Beer -17.5%

2. Dark Beer -6.9%

3. ESB – 6.5%

4. Red Beer -5.8%

5. Brown Beer -3.6%

This explains why so many pale ales, IPA’s and other golden beers are choking the shelves of places with a limited selection, leaving very little room for god’s chosen beer – the Bourbon-barrel aged stout.  I mean amber ale?  Really?!  And amber LAGER?!!  What’s wrong with you people!!

Sorry I’m yelling, it’s just that this is a subject near and dear to my heart, going back to when I started being a beer geek.  I’d go into a low-brow liquor store or Quickie Mart, and the only craft beer selections would be IPAs, lagers and seasonals.  Yay?  Where’s the Belgians?  Where are the dark beers that don’t begin with “G”?

At least Belgian beers are trending up, which I consider good news.  These are good gateway beers – my first real craft beer was a Chimay – and this shows that run-of-the-mill beer buyers (these are stats for convenience and grocery stores after all, not high-end beer palaces) are broadening their horizons. It’s also comforting to see light beer in decline, although I’m not sure if “light” and “craft” go together outside of Sam Adams.

Heck, even seeing Pilsner rocketing up the charts is good news, as those are probably folks switching from macro beers to craft offerings.

But this isn’t about them, it’s about you.  I know you think you’re doing it right and that everything is under control.  But just be sure, we’ve scheduled you for reprogramming.  It’s for your own good.

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Categories: Beer

Author:Jim

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

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30 Comments on “Sexy Data: You’re Buying the Wrong Beer!”

  1. 1Time4got
    January 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Jim,
    Thanks for confirming my suspicions about my friends who are suddenly proclaiming that they’re abandoning their Budweiser and Miller comfort beers (That doesn’t sound right, but it’s PC.). They won’t touch a dark beer because they’re scared of a full-flavored beverage that won’t lend itself to beer bongs or shotgunning as they try to relieve their college days.

    Don’t get me wrong I enjoy the lighter beers, but every now and then a solid dark beer is just what the doctor ordered to bring my beer taste buds back into the proper balance.

    Maybe I should start offering bribes to get my friends to imbibe a good dark beer and expand their horizons and make them well-rounded beer geeks.

    • January 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

      We always say “drink what you like,” so it’s fine they’re buying golden beers, especialy from craft brewers. But that doesn’t stop me from wishing poeple would buy what “I” like so I have more options on the shelf!

      • Don
        January 13, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

        That is like me wanting everyone to take the bus so they get out of MY way. I get it.

        • January 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

          EXACTLY. Kind of. Not really at all, actually.

          It’s like everyone buying Idaho-metrosexual tightly patterned flannels so you can find a nice variety of them at Wal*Mart.

        • Don
          January 13, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

          Or it would be like all the men in New Jersey buying a lot of hand cream and facial exfollient so you would have a good selection of “Manly scented” skin products.

        • January 13, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

          I don’t use skin lotion, but it would be nice if everyone bought more fresh cilantro and organic spinach.

        • Don
          January 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

          Liar.

  2. scott
    January 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    Nothing beats a well rounded stout, but I enjoy some amber ales, not so much the lagers though. And IPA’s did run its course with me.
    Thanks for the sit down, I’ll get back out there and try harder. Beginning of the weekend for me, no where to go and its cold outside….

    • January 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

      I’m glad we had this talk, Scott.

      Funny think is I’ve been craving Victory Prima Pils lately. Maybe I need to have a talk with myself!

  3. Don
    January 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    So are you saying that you can’t be a beer geek unless you enjoy dark beers? That seems a little exclusionary Jim.

    • January 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

      Oh Don, so literal! Anybody who loves great beer and obsesses about it a bit is a beer geek. I just want folks to buy what I like so there’s more of it on the shelves! It’s totally misguided and selfish – kind of like our blog!

  4. 1Time4got
    January 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Don,
    Let me clarify that one a tad. It’s not that you have to enjoy dark beers but you should have an appreciation for them and be somewhat knowledgeable about them as well. It’s part of a well-rounded beer education.

  5. January 13, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    Sexy data indeed!

    What I find most interesting is Pilsner being the fastest-growing craft beer style, and I would come to the same conclusion as you did, Jim. Macro-drinkers trying craft-brewed versions of what they are already familiar with. Makes sense to me!

    • January 13, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

      It’s a start. If they went straight to stouts it’d be sink or swim (or puke). Baby steps.

  6. January 13, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    funny…i rarely post on our site (but im workikng at remedying that) and in my last two ppsts i profess my scorn for bourbon aged stout and that lagers/pilsners really are good beer.

    • January 13, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

      It’s largely a matter of taste. I appreciate a good pilsner, as they take a lot of precision to make, but I crave big dark beers. To each their own I say.

      • January 13, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

        Dont get me wrong…I like big ones too….I just think layers have gotten a reactionary bad rap, and now the pendulum is swing a bit towards center.

  7. January 13, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    P…p…p…puss….pp…pansies.

    • Don
      January 13, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

      I know it took all you had Daniel to say that. Now go have a beer and let it all out on your blog. 😉

      • January 13, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

        Yup.

        Though if you think about it in slightly different terms, it makes sense. Craft beer as a whole is growing, and my purchase patterns aren’t changing, so I’m not really affecting the change in segments. New craft beer drinkers are likely to be drawn to lighter fare and thus those new drinkers are responsible for the rise in ambers, pils, etc. Might be nice to look at volumes rather than percentages. I’m buying just as many stouts as always…maybe more. I’ve already declared Summer 2011 as the summer of stouts.

        • January 13, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

          Good point, Daniel.

          BTW, I declared the start or stout season last year in May. I can only take so many pilsners!

      • January 13, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

        I don’t believe you – where’s your beard?

        • January 14, 2011 at 9:34 am #

          You got me – I don’t have enough beard-cred.

  8. January 14, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    So, when will they survey real craft beer enthusiasts/nerds/geeks? “Craft beer buyers” could mean anyone. I know for that in my circle of beer nerds, sours are the #1 seller right now, followed closely by anything brewed in an oak barrel, and pretty much anything not on that list (aside from possibly the mighty IPA). This sexy data is about as sexy as the Pope taking a dump. Why don’t you all do your own poll? Then we’ll see what’s up.

    • January 14, 2011 at 9:46 am #

      Ooh…tell me more about the Pope taking a sexy dump…talk slower…mmm….

      “Craft beer buyers” are people who buy craft beer, in this case at the grocery store, the drug store and the 7-11, so I agree that they aren’t hardcore geeks.

  9. Heather
    January 14, 2011 at 3:53 am #

    “purchasing data for drug, grocery and convenience stores”

    I would just like to go on the record as saying this pretty much excludes most of PA, so you can’t blame us for that data.

    • January 14, 2011 at 9:51 am #

      Jersey, too. Just for the record.

      But still, it’s cool to see craft beer moving in these channels at all – go ahead and buy a craft lager. It will allow the brewer to stay afloat and make barrel-aged goodies for me.

    • Stephen
      January 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

      Some grocery stores in PA are carrying beer. I know Giant Eagle and Wegmans sell up to 12 packs I believe. I was able to buy some Dogfish Head 90 minute and Raison d’etre at my local grocery store. I am so glad this is happening, and I cant figure out why it took so long.

      Overall like others have said, it is good that people are buying craft beers in general and possibly swaying from the mass production crap. In the end everyone will benefit from this ( And not just you Jim:) ). As for me, my tastes are like the wind, so I cannot say what I will be drinking in the future. At the moment I am hooked on IPA’s!

      • January 16, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

        There are a few stores in Jersey that sell beer, too, but they are few and far between. Overall, I think we are witnessing craft beer taking hold in America. Maybe soon it’ll just be called “beer” and the macro stuff will be called “bargain beer.”

  10. David
    January 14, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    I fail to see any bad news in this data. Seems like tastes are changing, for the better. Regardless, lets refer back to article II in the Ten Commandments that were posted a few days ago. If people want to drink a flavorless lager, I say more power to them.

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