13 Apr 2009 @ 10:50 AM 

I had a flash of insight.

Beer Wars. You know Beer Wars. If you don’t, just watch a brewery twitter feed for a few hours. It’s coming: This Thursday, in fact. You should think about going to see it.

I haven’t seen any projections about how many people are going to see this thing, but let’s make some rough estimates: Beer Wars plays in 440 theaters nationwide. Let’s assume that each of these theaters seats 400 people – which is a pretty big theater, but this is a one-night-only event, right? Hopefully, it’s being treated well. So that’s a potential viewing audience of ~176,000. Now, you have to assume that the bulk of the viewing audience will be craft beer enthusiasts, let’s assume 75%.

Now, what my insight had to do with is Blue Moon and its place in the world of craft beer. (What “craft beer” means has been covered amply on other blogs.) To sum up: Does craft beer have to do with how beer is made or who distributes it? I’ll tackle this, myself, some other day when I’m feeling extra glib and like I have something to add that hasn’t been said over and over again.

Beer Wars will rightly point out that Blue Moon is made by Coors, which in and of itself isn’t that much of a problem. By some people’s definitions (and, after a lot of thought, the one that I’m personally inclined to go with), it is as much a craft beer as any local offering you might find. My personal opinion is that Blue Moon does more to introduce people to good beer than a lot of smaller, more specialized, brews – it’s a gateway beer, like Sam Adams Boston Lager. You can take the step there from drinking Miller Lite, learn that you like craft beer, and then you’ve got one more consumer drinking a local beer. However! Is Coors a craft brewery? Well, they make Blue Moon. They make a lot of other small offerings. One could argue that, yes, in fact, they are. I might not like their mass market offerings, but you know what? They make good beer … sometimes. One should respect good beer. I can be bitter about their marketing budget and still respect good beer.

So let’s head back to the numbers for a second. Out of the 75% of craft beer enthusiasts who are seeing Beer Wars, let’s assume that 1/3 of them don’t know that Blue Moon is made by Coors. That seems like a high number, but it makes the math easier. So, put all that together, and let’s pretend that half of the audience (25% who aren’t craft beer enthusiasts, plus 1/3 of the 75% that are = 50%) that’s watching Beer Wars on Thursday night find out, in the midst of this event, that Blue Moon is a beer made by a megabrewery. That’s 88,000 people. Now, let’s pretend that those 88,000 people all go home and go to a party on Friday night and then tell 5 people each that they shouldn’t drink Blue Moon because it’s made by Coors. That’s 440,000 people. If THEY all tell 5 people each, that’s over 2.2 million.

Small facts run like wild fire, especially on angry opinions. Just do a Twitter search for #amazonfail for a really mind-boggling (and still truly enraging) example.

So, with all this in mind, Beer Wars has a chance, and I think a fairly significant one, of seriously effecting the sales figures of Blue Moon.

Will that hurt Coors? Given that Blue Moon is probably only a small portion of their gross income, I’d say that it’s unlikely. Equally as unlikely is that all of those people will continue to not buy Blue Moon, simply because it actually is one of the only good beer options in some bars and, hey, when your choices are between Blue Moon and Coors Light? I’d order a Blue Moon, too. If anything, I bet it will seriously make them reconsider how they’re spending the big in-flux of cash that Blue Moon is apparently supposed to be seeing soon.

It’d still be REALLY interesting to look at the balance sheets over at Coors in a month to see how much of a gut punch they feel from this. The closer we get, the more interested I am to see the fall out from Beer Wars and I wish, more than ever, that I could make my local screening.

The Craft Brewers Conference next week should be a blast on this topic alone.

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Categories: industry, media
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 13 Apr 2009 @ 10 50 AM

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