Imports Rebound

February 14, 2011

Imports Rebound

Dear Client:

It’s been a tough road for imported beer the last few years. Dominated by Corona and Heineken, imports were up about 5.8% in December, lead by Mexican shipments up a huge 37%, even though the Netherlands (Heineken) were down 16%. So for the year, imported beers were up 4.9%, the first increase in two years. That total total US beer shipments down around 0.9%, which is a little better than most people anticipated.

For the year, Mexican shipments were up 4.6%, Netherlands down 1.6%, UK up 4.1%, Belgium up 28.6%, Ireland down 1.4%.


August Busch IV will not be prosecuted in the tragic death of his young girlfriend who was found dead in his house with a strong painkiller and cocaine in her system, officials said on Thursday according to Bloomberg. It is also reported that August did not cooperate in the investigation.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said Adrienne Martin’s body did contains a mix of cocaine and Oxtcontin, but there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. He said she had voluntarily taken the cocaine and the oxycondone within five or six hours of death. August’s attorney Art Margulis said, “There really never has been a basis for a criminal action.” The decision, he said, was “logical and reasonable.”


Something of a shame, since variety packs and hops sell like crazy here, and Magic Hat’s IPA On Tour is the only variety pack to currently combine the two. But BrewDog “Head of Stuff” James Watt told BBD they might brew more of these beers in the spring and send “IPA is Dead,” their first variety pack, to the U.S.

Each of the four beers therein are named for the hops they showcase: Citra, Sorachi Ace, Bramling Cross, and Sauvin. Asked their best international market, James answered with the up-and-coming craft country, Sweden, which also happens to be the No.1 country for American craft exports. And James’ coyish response when BBD asked how they got the short-supply American aroma Citra hops: “We are just very clever.”


The National Restaurant Association is seeking innovative food and beverage products that have a significant impact on the industry, and will recognize the “best in class” at its annual trade show this May. A panel will select the recipients of the first annual Food & Beverage Product Innovations Awards, to be showcased at its 40,000+ strong annual show in May.

A few categories of consideration are especially pertinent to several levels of the beer industry. “New Process or Preparation” focuses on a new way to produce an existing product that improves the product (longer shelf life, better nutritional profile, etc.); product improvement, packaging improvement, and incremental value to operator are perhaps more obviously related. The Association is currently accepting applications through March 28 for processes and products launched in the U.S. between Jan. 1 2010 and May 21, 2011.

Jim Koch will keynote the show’s International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event portion this year.


Appropriately, since Smuttynose’s pr chief JT Thompson deems himself “Minister of Propaganda,” the New Hampshire-based brewery has been gaining and giving attention overseas. JT shared with BBD that “European markets continue to be a source of interest,” which so far has led to some explorative shipments through the Brewers Association’s Export Development Program to Italy, Canada, Denmark, the UK, Sweden, and France.

MORE AMERICAN CRAFT STYLES WELL RECEIVED IN THE OLD WORLD. Smuttynose beers also fared well in several major international competitions: a dry-hopped firkin of Big A IPA claimed the inaugural Michael Jackson Award at the Great British Beer Festival in August, and Big A and Robust Porter each won a gold medals at the Mondial de la Biere in Strasbourg, France in October. They were the only American beers to bring home prizes.

OTHER GROWTH STATS. The brewery finished 2010 up 23%. A strong first quarter saw an increase of 33% over Q1 2009. “We shipped a total of 29,118 barrels, leaving us just under the 30,000 that we all were very excited to break,” JT says, “but I guess that’s what 2011 is for.”


BOULEVARD SPURRED CHOCOLATE ALE MANIA in its local market of Kansas City last week. The collaboration with local chocolatier Christopher Elbow along with the release’s proximity to Valentine’s Day and some real-time social media marketing caused most shipments to local liquor stores to sell out instantly. The latest in the brewer’s Smokestack Series will make rounds to the rest of its 19-state distribution markets in the next couple of weeks, finishing in Texas and the Pacific Northwest.

ON FRIDAY we reached out 400 limit for the Beer Summit, so we are Sold Out. If you are attending, the schedule is here. Also, those of you on Twitter use the hash tag #beersummit.

BREWPIC OF THE DAY: Today we link to a library of old beer ads created by Benton & Bowles – later to become D’arcy Benton Masius and Bowles, at the Duke University Digital Collection.

Until tomorrow, Harry

“You can’t find any true closeness in Hollywood, because everybody does the fake closeness so well.”
-Carrie Fisher

– Join us at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami on March 6 – 7, 2011 for our annual beer industry confab. More info here:

Make yourself heard, your opinions count. Anonymous feedback and tipster form:

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