Beer, Beer, & Better Beer

Millennials are not, in fact, killing the beer industry
Troy, BarFly Webmaster | August 23, 2017
Beer, Millennials

Millennials: Will they ever stop killing things!? Judging by how the media covers today’s young adults, anyway, you’d think the only industry the under-35 crowd isn’t trying to snuff out is avocado toast. Googling “millennials are killing...” or “millennials are ruining...” produces a pretty hilarious list of results. To name a few:

And now, apparently, beer? The investment firm Goldman Sachs recently downgraded the stock ratings on shares of the Boston Beer Company and Constellation Brands, both large, publicly traded brewers. (Boston Beer makes Sam Adams and Angry Orchard cider; Constellation owns the Corona family.)

Goldman cited data from Nielsen Research indicating a slight decline in beer penetration of the U.S. alcoholic beverage market since 2016, while wine and liquor held steady. The firm predicted continued declines through the remainder of 2017 – about 0.7 percent overall.

Alarming news reports blamed the downturn on – you guessed it – the millennials! Except...they’re simply wrong.

Here’s what Goldman’s chief analyst wrote in justifying the downgrade: “The cause is younger groups shifting away from beer. The youngest demographic (<35 year olds) overall penetration rates are not increasing. The 35-44 year old cohort shows a shift away from Beer to Wine & Spirits.”

You’d have to interpret that pretty strangely to find a way to pin it on millennials, whose beer consumption is “not increasing,” which is different, obviously, than “declining.” Also, there is some disagreement over whether people currently in their mid-30s qualify as millennials, but zero definitions of that generation have ever expanded its boundaries far enough to include people in their mid-40s.

This hasn’t stopped media outlets from turning anything even remotely millennial-related into content, because people eat that stuff up. Presumably, you clicked on this blog post for precisely that reason (in which case, thanks!!). The biggest outlet to turn this story into Gen-Y clickbait was the Washington Post, which later corrected its headline and story to place the blame where it belongs: people slightly older than millennials. The page now contains a magnificent editor’s note that begins: “An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed the trend to millennials.”

The Weekly Standard looked at the actual Nielsen data, and confirmed that beer consumption among millennials, after declining for most of 2016, has indeed leveled off.

The good news for us, and our customers, is that while mass-produced beer may be in minor decline, craft beer remains strong. The Brewers Association, the trade group for the U.S. craft beer industry, recently released figures that suggested steady and stable growth for the sector in the first part of 2017. 

As far as we’re concerned, millennials – and Gen X-ers, for that matter – aren’t killing anything. Maybe they’re just sick of crappy, mass-produced beer.

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HopCat to sponsor ArtPrize 2017's Blue Bridge Music Festival
Troy, BarFly Webmaster | August 21, 2017
Music, ArtPrize

HopCat is excited to announce our sponsorship of this year’s second-annual Blue Bridge Music Festival, the official music component of ArtPrize Nine. The event, a collaboration with community radio station WYCE-FM (88.1) is set to unfold Friday and Saturday Sept. 29-30 on the blue pedestrian bridge over the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids.

The free festival will feature performances by eight regional artists, all of whom are eligible for the ArtPrize Song of the Year award, which carries a $1,000 cash prize. In keeping with ArtPrize’s public-vote model, the prize will go to the artist who attracts the most support from visitors. The award format is pared down from last year’s inaugural Blue Bridge event, in which songs were divided by genre and also competed for judges’ awards.

The 2017 contestants, however, still are eligible in ArtPrize’s main field in the time-based category, which carries $12,500 prizes in both public voting and juried awards. The Song of the Year winner will be invited to perform at the ArtPrize Awards Ceremony, Oct. 6 at 20 Monroe Live.

HopCat is presenting the Song of the Year prize and will be on hand at the festival, selling Crack Fries and a few local beers from Founders Brewing Co. The same sustainability initiatives we practice in our restaurants also will be in effect -- all food products will be compostable and there will be readily accessible compost and recycling bins, with the goal of diverting at least 90 percent of waste that would otherwise go to a landfill.

Also, we’ll go ahead and guarantee* that the weather at this year’s event will be better than the conditions at the first Blue Bridge Festival. (*not legally binding) 

Quinn Matthews, station manager at WYCE, curated the festival’s performers. ”I’m beyond excited as WYCE 88.1FM, HopCat and ArtPrize team up for the Blue Bridge Music Festival for 2017,” Matthews said in a statement. “West Michigan is filled with amazing art during this competition, and I feel it’s extremely important to show the visitors to our city what an amazing music scene we have here. Get ready for “A World of Music” on the Blue Bridge, all for FREE, celebrating Jazz, Soul, Rock, Country, Hip Hop and more for two straight days over the Grand River.”

WYCE, the long-running Grand Rapids Community Media Center station whose motto is “A World of Music,” will broadcast from the Blue Bridge Music Festival each day. The schedule of the event is as follows: 

Friday, Sept. 29

4 p.m. - Live WYCE broadcast

5. p.m. - Yolonda Lavender

7 p.m. - The Bootstrap Boys

9 p.m. - Michigander

Saturday, Sept. 30

Noon - Live WYCE broadcast

2 p.m. - Brad Fritcher’s Moods

4 p.m. - Asamu Johnson & the Associates of the Blues

5:30 p.m. - Jesse Ray and the Carolina Catfish

7 p.m. - Watching for Foxes

8:45 p.m. - The Great Ones (Lady Ace Boogie/JRob)

For more information on this year’s Blue Bridge Music Festival, check out the ArtPrize website and a longer feature in Local Spins

 

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2017 mid-year report shows steady growth in U.S. craft beer industry
Troy, BarFly Webmaster | August 16, 2017

The Brewers Association, the trade organization for the American craft beer industry, recently published its mid-year report, sort of a State of the Union address for anyone who manufactures, sells or just enjoys the finest beers in the country. And, unlike pretty much everything happening in America currently, this report gives us plenty to feel optimistic about.

As of the end of June, there were 5,562 breweries operating in the United States. That's an all-time high, up about 900 from that point in 2016, or 16 percent. Just since December, 557 breweries have opened. The association also reports that another 2,739 breweries are planning to open in the near future. Also, the industry employs nearly 129,000 full- and part-time workers nationwide.

The rampant growth of the past few years, however, has abated slightly. Volume is up 5 percent over the end of the year, compared to 8 percent growth in 2016.  

"The growth pace for small and independent brewers has stabilized at a rate that still reflects progress but in a more mature market," said Bart Watson, chief economist for the association. "The beer world is highly competitive and there is certainly a mixed bag in terms of performance. Some breweries are continuing to grow, whereas others are having to evolve their position and nurture new opportunities to ensure they keep pace. Many brewers are benefiting from on-premises and taproom sales, and recent state-based reforms have the potential to help brewers in new regions capitalize on this growth."

For the purposes of its data, the association defines a craft brewery as "small" (annual production of 6 million barrels or less), "independent" (less than 25 percent of the operation is owned/controlled by an industry participant that is not itself a craft brewer) and "traditional" (does majority of its total volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation).

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