Heineken meddling in craft beer again, and the June BPI numbers are here
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Often, the beer news is just a snapshot that fits into the bigger picture. Consider the war in Ukraine. In case you hadn’t noticed, it is impacting everything. Beer included. Especially in Europe. Don't look away, this week’s news is not all dark and dire. We also have some happy news this week. So let’s get to it.
Craft Beer and the War in Europe
In 2019, Heineken bought a minority state in Oedipus Brewing, a beloved craft brewery in Amsterdam. This week, via a story in the NL Times, we learned that Heineken will now take full ownership of the company.
It’s easy for us to get wrapped up in the challenges facing stateside breweries, but European brewers are struggling mightily. Struggling even more than their American counterparts. The war in Ukraine has created stress on the brewing industry (all industries) across Europe, with skyrocketing prices for ingredients, supplies, and energy. Oedipus Brewing is feeling the stress, which is why executives at the brewery voiced appreciation for the lifeline Heineken is providing.
This bucks a trend. All sorts of acquisitions continue to riddle our craft beer news feed, but most often we are talking about craft-on-craft acquisitions these days. Meanwhile, Big Beer has been shedding some of its craft beer investments. For example, Anheuser-Busch and Constellation Brands recently sold some of their craft breweries back to the breweries’ original owners. It’s been a minute since we heard of a big, multinational brewery business acquiring a craft brewery. The news about Oedipus Brewing does not necessarily suggest anything about Heineken’s intentions in the USA.
In the coming months and years, thanks in large part to the war, Europe may prove itself a target-rich environment for big breweries looking to acquire smaller breweries. Also, we will likely see a lot of European craft brewers simply cease to exist. Let’s all hope for an end to the war in Ukraine, for this and so many other reasons.
Hop on Those Coattails and Ride!
And speaking of Heineken... This week Lagunitas Brewing, which is owned by Heineken, told Craft Business Daily that it is investing over $1 million in its IPA Day campaign this year. The campaign will run from July 5 through August 3. National IPA Day honors the most popular style of craft beer, India Pale Ale, on the first Thursday in August. This year, it falls on August 3.
National IPA Day provides a nice excuse to drive consumers toward craft beer at an especially nice time of year. It fits in perfectly with holidays like Memorial Day (June), Independence Day (July), and Labor Day (September). August needs a "day" so... IPA Day.
While it is highly unlikely that any craft breweries, taprooms, or bars can spend $1 million promoting IPA Day, know that Lagunitas is dropping that kind of coin on it this year. Apparently, they're going to make some noise. Hop on those coattails and ride! If they want to get people talking about IPA Day, that's great. Just make sure those people know which IPA they should drink and where they should drink it.
June’s BPI - Flat, But Not Flat Lining
The Beer Purchasers Index (BPI) is a measure of beer distributors' level of optimism for several categories across the beer industry as compared to the same month last year. It shows volumes (orders) this year versus last. More orders, more optimism. Observing the BPI over the last few months, as we have, we’ve seen a slow return to optimism, which is better than it was eight months ago when beer wholesalers seemed to have little hope for craft beer.
For two consecutive months, the BPI for craft beer is higher than it was at the same time last year (see below). Although we’d love to see that number at 50 or above, this is good news and we should not complain.
Nearly all of the feedback last week dealt with the story we shared about Optimism Brewing turning over the keys to Stoup Brewing in a different kind of acquisition. Here's some of the feedback we received from last week's newsletter.
captaninv@... said: “Not sure how to react to the Optimism/Stoup news. I enjoyed Optimism, and REALLY liked Troy and Gay. But I love Stoup!!!”
wrigster@… said: "… We loved Optimism's space, neighborhood, and beer, so we are saddened because I'm guessing we won't see their beer much again, if ever. On the flip-side, we love Stoup and their beer so we're excited the space can continue as a brewery making beer we love."
So how did we do this week?
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This week's Taster Tray was composed by Kendall Jones.