What does craft look like at retail in Portland, which has the highest dollar share for the segment in grocery (Bump just listed craft dollar share in Portland food at over 32)? We visited several retailers, including Kroger-owned superstore Fred Meyer, Safeway, and private natural foods store Zupan’s Markets. Strategies were natch different based on target consumer and side of town: Neighborhood grocer Safeway in Northeast Portland does inordinate business with 12-packs, for example, and Widmer Hef is among its best selling in the package, along with some of Full Sail’s Session series and Bridgeport IPA. The other two skewed a bit higher-end and esoteric, with many large single format options. All foreshadow what could come to a market near you…

The end of 2011 is nigh. Planning for 2012 is [or should be, mostly] done. Now comes the hard part: Execution. The execs at CBA are in the thick of that, and have been all year. For it took more than lofty brands and plans to start the turnaround of Widmer, and kickstart Redhook full-year growth after 5 years of relative languish…

What does the Brewers Guild Meeting look like in a market like Oregon? A ballroom full of craft brewers, plus a few retailers and distributors. And these days, sponsors like JP Morgan Chase and Emma e-mail marketing. It’s a sign of the times…

Minnesota’s Cold Spring Brewing Co. is one of the foremost producers of contract craft in the nation. The company evolved into a large contract production company from the non-alc beverage business. By now, they’re a centrally located, flexible operation that can produce

North American Breweries vice president of sales James Pendegraft filled us in on some state-of-the-union insights for the No. 8 brewery in the nation (per BA numbers). Watch for consolidation, international expansion, possible M&A action and retail strategies from the parent of Magic Hat and Pyramid in 2012…

We’ll be closing out the year in the biggest markets for craft. Later this week we’ll report from Ground Zero for segment share – Portland, Oregon – where we’ll meet with CBA and Ninkasi and do a roundup of the Holiday Ale Festival, plus trends to watch from the leadership market. The latest share information for 52 weeks ending Oct. 15 per Nielsen shows Portland has an almost 35 dollar share in the food channel, up 2.7% over last year; in C-stores, dollar share is up 1% to almost 11…

They only have a handful of craft brands from around the nation, but Tennessee’s “100% independent” and craft-centric BountyBev is building a business as a small brands incubator, growing regional brands or at least “those that travel with great packaging” at the sensitive crux of a few-hundred barrels in a new market…

Even after 1,800 breweries, niches still wait to be filled. For example: The Tex Mex food genre is iconic enough to have been exported to Paris by now. But it was just this year that Tex Mex Beer debuted in Austin to capitalize on state pride and obvious on-premise implications…

People talk about craft growing to 10, 15, even 20 share in 5, 10, 15 years. The number they often leave out of such discourse is the money it will take to get there. Schlafly’s Dan Kopman puts that number at about $1.5 billion. Roughly: If small U.S. brewers are going to grow from 5%, or 10 million barrels, to 10%, or 20 million, then we will need to build 10 million barrels of new capacity at $150 per barrel…

We talk often about craft selling on the strength of its thousands of individual stories. But how each craft brewer conveys that story in a new market varies not only with its particular line and feel, but also its market objective…

Operations chief Andy Thomas has a point. “Go back a year ago in the time machine,” he said on today’s Q3 Craft Brewers Alliance call, “and think if we’d talked about Widmer growing at the same rate as Kona on the East Coast. Or Redhook on the cover of Ad Age.” Or that the brand portfolio now has 3 of SIG’s 4 fastest- growing new craft brands, including Widmer’s Rotator IPA series, Redhook Pilsner, and Kona’s Aloha series…

CBA’s core brand depletions have outpaced YTD numbers, up 8.6% for the period ended Sept. 30 and 7.3% for three quarters. Core brand shipments are up 3.9%, +7.6% YTD…

Bump Williams let us in on his retailer clients’ plans, hot off their quarterly business reviews. “They’ve been asking us very specific questions about what and who is hot; about pricing, market basket dollars and lift,” says Bump. “And when they say ‘brand loyalty,’ they’re talking not so much about Sam Adams or Dogfish; they’re talking about store loyalty. Stores are their brands.” Retailers are increasingly looking to craft to build that store loyalty in an age of major brand declines…

Recent filings in the Anchor-Boston case raise some interesting questions, beyond the “simple” one of a non-compete’s enforceability. As Gussie Busch used to say, “making friends is our business.” Should the friendships beer salespeople make with wholesalers and retailers while at one brewery be deemed proprietary for a period after their leave? Recent Boston employee affadavits make that argument…

Brooklyn’s Steve Hindy injected a dose of reality into the industry earlier this week at the Beer Insights Seminar, calling out our warring trade groups, foolish pricing practices and errant wholesalers. On pumped-up craft share, and especially premium-priced beers comprising more than 20% of the market, he declared: “August Busch III did not see this coming.”…