Two Charts to Show the Changing Fate of Big Beer

american-flag beer lineup

In what has become an annual tradition, 24/7 Wall Street released their list of “beers Americans no longer drink” this week, sparking no outrage or surprise for beer enthusiasts around the country.

This year’s list includes beers that may leave you scratching your head wondering why people still bother, but while distribution networks are large for Big Beer, the sales of these beers are not.

The 2014 list, which represents “barrels shipped” in 2013, includes home run hitters like Budweiser Select, Milwaukee’s Best and even Budweiser itself. Of biggest surprise is the inclusion of Miller High Life and Miller Lite, both which hadn’t appeared in earlier versions of this list.

For our visually-minded friends, I’ve gone back to the previous four lists and charted the downward course of six of these beers that appear in multiple years. Worth noting, 24/7 Wall Street counted “barrels sold” in the lists covering 2010 to 2012 and changed it to “barrels shipped” for 2013. For sake of argument, let’s just assume all the barrels shipped were sold, even if this is based on figures from a piece about beers nobody wants to drink.

First, here are beers represented on the list brewed by parent company MillerCoors:

MillerCoors chart

And here are beers made by parent company AB InBev:

AB InBev chart

Not pictured in these charts, Miller High Life and Miller Lite (MillerCoors), who lost 21.2 percent and 22.6 percent in sales from 2008 to 2013, respectively. Miller Lite won’t be on this list next year, thanks a boost in sales from its retro label rebranding.

Budweiser, which has lost 27.6 percent of sales from 2008 to 2013, was down to 16 million barrels shipped last year. No surprise, given that Millennials don’t care for it.

All of these brands are obviously huge, with the smallest tally in 2013 coming from Budweiser Select. Even at 525,000 barrels shipped in 2013, that was still roughly 76 percent more than what Lagunitas sold in the same year.

So what does this all mean?

By now, we all know the gimmicks multinational companies are taking to rebrand and gain attention. AB InBev has made news lately for buying craft breweries, which is certainly good for its future prospects, but I’m mostly curious about MillerCoors.

That company seemingly dominates this “beers Americans don’t drink” list year-in and year-out, but does get a decent bounce from owning brands like Blue Moon and Leinenkugel Brewing Company, which both sell very well.

I do take this showing as a paring with the idiotic comments made by MillerCoors chairman Pete Coors, however, and wonder what kind of necessary innovation is on the horizon for the company. In terms of stock, MillerCoors is doing alright, but Miller Fortune hasn’t performed as gangbusters as they expected and do you remember the failure that was Miller Chill? Maybe hard ciders Crispin and Smith & Forge are their best bets moving forward, along with their continued push of a reinvigorated Miller Lite.

Above all else, these two charts showcase why craft beer had another consecutive banner year and why companies like MillerCoors and AB InBev are on the hunt for ways to get into the craft game.

Related: He Said What? Pete Coors and His Magical Mystery Press Tour

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

The Not-So-Secret Secret of Beer Blogging: You Matter. No Matter What.

shovelThere’s a moment in the movie Caddyshack I can’t shake from my mind.

Danny Noonan, one of the film’s main characters, is trying to butter up antagonist and avid golfer Judge Elihu Smails in order to get an advantage for a college scholarship from the movie’s fictional country club. Danny can’t afford to go to college.

“Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too,” says the judge, playing up his well to-do lifestyle and feeling of superiority.

It’s a blow for Danny, but a salient point. The world does need ditch diggers, but the comment’s comedic purposes override the need to analyze it within context of the movie. What we’re expected to take away is that digging ditches is low, miserable work that should be avoided.

But what if it’s not so bad? What if there’s more to digging ditches than getting your hands dirty?

session_logo_all_text_300As basic as this task may seem, there should most certainly be an amount of pride – like any job – in wielding knowledge and skill beyond another person. Knowing the perfect depth with which to plunge a shovel into the earth and visualizing the right angle to make the task easier are skills, even if those abilities seem like low, miserable work.

Most of all, what are we to make of someone who enjoys digging ditches? Heaven forbid, according to Judge Smails.

In a very roundabout way, this has stuck in my head all week as I considered joining this month’s Session, a regular effort by beer bloggers around the world to collectively share thoughts on a single topic. Presented by the writer known simply as “DING,” this month’s prompt asks us to consider our place in the beer industry:

Are you simply a cog in the commercial machine if you work for a brewery, store or distributor? Are you nothing more than an interested consumer? Are you JUST a consumer? Are you a beer evangelist? Are you a wannabe, beer ‘professional’? Are you a beer writer? All of the above? Some of the above? None of the above? Where do you fit, and how do you see your own role in the beer landscape?

The more I thought about it, the more I considered these questions in other terms: Why do we write? What do we want out of writing?

Or rather, if we write, must we be above “ditch digging?” Is there a standard we must set for ourselves and others and cast out those who don’t meet those expectations?

I kept coming back to the same answer: who cares?

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It’s My Relationship and I Can Cry if I Want To

broken heart stalker
I think about you all the time.

I can’t shake it from my head … I wonder about who you’re with, what you’re wearing. I can picture you in that flashy, new negligee I bought you. You haven’t seen it yet, but it’s sitting safely in a cupboard at home.

I’ve got a spot for you right next to it.

It’s not like I’m utterly consumed by you. It’s kind of the other way around. HA. It’s more like I enjoy “intense research.” You know what I mean? Of course you do. You understand me so well, sometimes I like to think you were made just for me.

It’s probably true, you know. We share so many friends. They talk about you almost as much as I do. But I don’t know if they’re as committed to you as I am. For others, you’re du jour, a fad. They’ll pay attention to you for a while, but I know that what we have will last FOREVER.

I get emails about you every day. Well, they’re email alerts, but it still makes me feel like we’re close. I love it when they ping my inbox overnight. I get so excited to see them – and read about you – when I first wake up. But you can’t actually email me, can you? Gosh, that would be so GREAT. It makes me jealous that so many other people get to spend so much more time with you than I do.

Have you seen any of my recent posts? They’re all about you. I think they can be kind of wordy and nerdy, but to you, they probably read like poetry. Sometimes I blush at how rhythmic it all feels, thoughts and words flowing in waves from my brain to my fingertips to a keyboard. You’re the perfect muse – inspiring me as I type away. I could STARE AT YOU FOR HOURS.

I love talking about you, even though sometimes you can be ice cold.

I love reading about you, even though people all over enjoy your company without me.

But most of all, I love writing about you, even though you never comment on my posts.

I love you, beer, but sometimes this whole blogging thing makes me feel a little too OBSESSED.

unpaid investigatorThis (intentionally over-the-top) post is part of multiple essays from Mid-Atlantic beer bloggers focusing on how we feel blogging has impacted our relationship with beer. Make sure to check out these posts, too:

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

header image edited via

A Celebration of Fall: November 2014 Beertography

bud_cameraNovember has now gone by, which means it’s time for my regular roundup of beertography from the last few weeks.

Below you’ll find some of my recent photos, which you may also come across on my Instagram page, Twitter account or even Untappd. If you like these, you can find all of my beertography on Instagram or in my running archive.

All my shots are taken with my iPhone 6 unless otherwise noted. Let’s see what November had to offer…

Hardywood Bourbon Barleywine – Warmth in the Cold

barleywine-barrel aged-hardywood-beer-craft beer-beertographyAnchor Brewing Big Leaf Maple – Coming of Fall

anchor-anchor brewing-big leaf maple-beer-craft beer-beertography-fallGreat Divide Oatmeal Yeti – Hunting Season

great divide-stout-imperial stout-yeti-beer-craft beer-beertographyTerrapin Liquid Bliss – A Savory Sensation

terrapin-peanut butter beer-peanut butter-liquid bliss-beer-craft beer-beertography-3Goose Island Festivity Ale – Tis the Season

goose island-festivity ale-christmas-holidays-beer-craft beer-beertographyI look forward to what December has to offer! As always, you can go back to see previous beertography posts:

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

The Grateful Challenge: Beer Edition


When I’m not reading about beer, I love learning about marketing and communications. One of my favorite blogs for the topic is Spin Sucks, written by PR superpro Gini Dietrich and a cast of her friends and colleagues.

This week, Gini shared a post called “The Grateful Challenge,” which tests someone to list as many things as they’re grateful for in just 10 minutes. She got 67.

With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, I wanted to see if I could beat that. I encourage you to do the same – set a timer and see what you come up with. Then realize all the stuff you left out.

It’s harder than it seems. Especially when you try to keep it focused on beer.

Not that I’m not immensely grateful. I’m just poor at time-specific brainstorming, I suppose.

What did I forget? Let’s find out. I apologize in advance!

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Beer Advocate and the United States of Beer: The Complete Series!


Here’s your #longread of the week.

Much like the series I wrote about the growth of beer-related vernacular and Google, I wanted to provide a handy, single location to easily relocate all the posts related to this Beer Advocate series. It was a beast to corral and this offers a compilation of that work.

Thanks to everyone who followed along, including Tom Cizauskas of Yours for Good Fermentables, who wrote a recap of my work.

In chronological order, here are all the pieces to this series:

A State-by-State Analysis of Beer Advocate Rankings: Setting the Stage

I collected data from Beer Advocate’s “top beers” rankings of each of the 50 states in the U.S. as well as the District of Columbia. What does it all mean? This is our start to better understand the habits and behaviors of beer drinkers and what that means on a state and national level.

The United States of Beer (According to Beer Advocate)

Not just a full list of the 506 beers that comprise the top “10s” of every state (and DC) in the Union, but a brief analysis and a map that shows the representative brewery for each state.

The Big Beer Impact: Does ABV Influence Rankings?

A deep dive into the numbers to investigate the possible connection between alcohol content and how that impacts perception of a beer. Plus, do ABV and high ratings have anything to do with climate?

Here’s the Best Beer from Every State. Hold onto Your Livers.

Playing off the idea of ABV and high ratings, we look at the best of the “best” beers from every state and what particular aspects reinforce the belief that to enjoy a great beer, you may not be drinking responsibly.

An Experiment with Beer Advocate’s Best: A Beer So American, You Could Salute It

What’s the point of all this work if we can’t have a little fun? Using data from the list of 506 best beers and some help from friends, we now have a recipe for a uniquely American beer: the True American Patriot IPA.

What Beer Advocate’s “Low” ABV Beers Tell Us About Preference

By looking at the lower-ABV beers of the best beers from every state, it’s possible to find even more correlation between what raters may consider a “good” beer when it comes to ABV.

A Final Look at Beer Advocate “Best Beer” Data

Two last pieces of analysis left over from previous posts. Most important, does income have anything to do with what could be a “best” beer?

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

What Is: The End? A Final Look at Beer Advocate “Best Beer” Data

jeopardy_beer_potpourriMuch like the full-bodied, layered menagerie of our favorite high-alcohol beers, there’s more to the Beer Advocate rating data than what we’ve seen so far.

Last week, we looked at a wide variety of takeaways from my deep dive into the “best beers” each state offers, according to Beer Advocate users, but there were two hodgepodge cases of analysis that didn’t easily fit in. Still, if the work is there, it’s worth sharing.

Let’s grab a pint and enjoy these last couple sips of information and I’ll leave it up to you as to whether there’s something I might have missed.

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What Beer Advocate’s “Low” ABV Beers Tell Us About Preference

abv excitement graphic JPGYou may recall from my state-by-state full list of Beer Advocate’s best 506 beers, I determined an average ABV of 8.1 percent, even if the best of the “best” beers clock in at an alcohol content much higher than that.

Even so, I wanted to see if there were any patterns to states that offered “best” beers below our national average. Specifically, I found even more correlation between what raters may consider a “good” beer when it comes to ABV.

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An Experiment with Beer Advocate’s Best: A Beer So American, You Could Salute It

Optional music for this post

All week we’ve been sorting through the beers that drinkers go crazy for, but we’ve been focusing on the final product – what we pop open and quickly make us flock to Beer Advocate to sing a brew’s praises.

But today, we take a look inside the glass.

While we might have found the best beers from every state, I wanted to take it a step further and try to figure out how we might be able to create the “best Best Beer.” By using the list of each state’s best beers from yesterday and a little help from Friend of the Program Allen, I can offer you insight into the ultimate U.S. beer.

Can you hear that? The bellowing sound coming our way? Over Purple Mountains Majesty and above the enameled plain?

With an aroma of freedom with an aftertaste of exceptionalism, today we unleash the True American Patriot IPA.

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Here’s the Best Beer from Every State. Hold onto Your Livers.

bottle_Flag_new“The price of greatness is responsibility.”
– Winston Churchill

“All right, brain. You don’t like me and I don’t like you, but let’s just do this and I can get back to killing you with beer.”
– Homer Simpson

Looking for something great to drink? Start with the ABV.

Just kidding. Sort of.

As we continue to look at data from Beer Advocate’s best beers state-by-state, it seems two things are clear: people like high ABV styles and rate high-alcohol beers well.

But what does that mean when looking for a top-notch, truly great beer? While we’ve so far kept these rankings in a vacuum, I wanted to put see what would happen with our “best” beers if we put them in more of a head-to-head scenario.

Which is why today we look at the best of the “best” beers from every state and what particular aspects reinforce the belief that to enjoy a great beer, you may not be drinking responsibly.

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