A buddy of mine recently sent me this picture from Hatboro Beverage near Philadelphia:
It is encouraging that Craft brews are gaining advertising space. Not all Craft brews are independently owned as many of you know. The Buds and Miller/Coors are behind a sizable chunk of them. Here are the brands from Anheuser-Busch.
But the independently-owned breweries are a major player. I was at Isaac’s, a deli/bar that specializes in sandwiches named after bird species (no “The Pigeon” yet) in Lancaster City Friday night. The chain obtained their liquor license a little while back and now have a nice stock of brews available. See the picture below:
Again, one might be surprised by how many of the big breweries are behind these brands. Yet, it is good to see better beer being brewed (kind of like a 40/40 version of “Sally selling sea shells and the seashore” tongue twister). With the flagship non-Craft beer brands, it is not that the big breweries beers (Miller, Coors, Bud brands) taste bad, they don’t. It is that they do not taste good either.
These mass-produced beers have been bred for the lowest common denominator drinking audience. Kind of like ‘Wonder Beer” instead of bread. See this video from the people behind independent Craft Beer breweries. Some of the distributorship practices, with government support, are nefarious and monopolistic. But there is money in Monopoly in politics, just like the game. And, the game is to control the places on the board. Last time I checked the law, this is illegal. Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors control about 80% of the beer industry and it comes down to distributorship and shelf-space.
So if it is not taste and monopolies, what else keeps the Bigs big? Advertising. One estimate put A-B approximately at $247 million spent on advertising in the first half of 2007, with $183 million spent on TV ads. The dual purposes of advertising is to retain consumer loyalty and sway the undecided audience to join your brand as a consumer, especially the college-age, where brand loyalty is starting to set. The pairing of sports, sex, silliness, and suds is difficult to resist like the Sirens of old. As the linked website notes,
“The Sirenes were later encountered by the Argonauts who passed by unharmed with the help of Orpheus, the poet drowning out their music with his song. Odysseus also sailed by, bound tightly to the mast, his men blocking their ears with wax. The Sirenes were so distressed to see a man hear their song and yet escape, that they threw themselves into the sea and drowned.”
In the field of Psychology, the association of stimuli, like Pavlov, is a proven scientific principle, especially when all 4 stimuli are pleasurable intrinsically and independently. The poetry of microbreweries is starting to permit men to sail by the song of the Sirens. One website investigated the life of a Bud Girl. Not a whole lot different than girls who get involved in porn. It is demeaning to women too to be stuck on the “objectified by beauty” island where their worth is defined by their ability to convince men to come near to destruction so that their goods can be plundered. An Australian guy named McIntosh was quoted at the end of the piece saying:
“If you’re in America, you got to drink Bud,” he answers. Danielle (the Bud Girl) is down at the other end of the bar, the Monday Night Football Game projected on a big screen TV is her backdrop. She is adjusting her dress as McIntosh looks her way and says, “especially if she tells you to.”
But change is brewing and it is more discerning and discriminating than these Tea-Bagger whack-job wingnuts who think Sarah Palin should be president. Figure it out folks, she is a rah-rah, the political equivalent of a cheerleader.
Heading out to Golden Avalanche Brewery today in Kutztown, an appropriate metaphor Craft Beer avalanche that is coming. And, I believe that this avalanche is not primarily about beer. It is about freedom, about opportunity, and self-determination.