16 Apr 2009 @ 11:18 AM 

Again – just another quickie this week. If you’re not a member of the American Homebrewers Association, you missed this marvelous e-mail that went out today.

I Make My Own BABIES!

I Make My Own BABIES!

Part of me would love to make fun of this in some way, but I’m too happy to see homebrewing marketed to women. Hooray!

For the record, it was my mother that bought me my first homebrew kit and got me interested in making my own beer all those years ago. Go moms. Keep makin’ that beer.

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Categories: American Homebrewers Association
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 16 Apr 2009 @ 11 18 AM

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 08 Apr 2009 @ 6:28 AM 

Sean over at Fullsteam, a brewery-in-planning in Durham, NC, posted a brilliant piece on his blog yesterday, and it really needs to be shared.

Unfortunately, Sean and I share a lot of viewpoints about beer and craft breweries. I say “unfortunately” because Sean is currently in the throes of a startup and I am not. Color me jealous.

Invite the other 99.

Invite the other 99.


Sean put up a piece about “the other 99 beers.” Give it a read if you get a chance, but I’ll sum it up here, as well. The gist is that, here in NC, craft beer has a 4% market share. He posits that only about 1/4 of that 4% is locally made beer, which brings you down to 1-in-100 drinkers who are actually drinking locally made craft beer. His argument? That the other local beer makers are not his competitors, but his compatriots. He doesn’t want to win over that 1-in-100. He wants to win over the other 99. As he puts it, his market is:

The foodie who boasts about eating local, but has a soft spot for, I don’t know, Iron City. The wine guy who knows all about Puligny-Montrachet’s chalky soil but drinks Amstel Light out of habit. The busy and overwhelmed grocery shopper who buys whatever is on sale.

Yes! I cannot agree with this enough. Unfortunately, this does sort of cast regional breweries as.. well.. not the bad guy, per se, but certainly not the good guy. In this scenario, Sam Adams fills the same (large) niche as Budweiser. No matter how you slice it, they are taking a sale away from a local brewery. On the other hand – that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Those larger craft breweries as well as, let’s face it, the different style options from the megabreweries, give a consumers a familiar product that they can interact with in many different locations – pretty much no matter where they are. You can get Sam Adams Boston Lager – a great brew, make no mistake – at any airport or sports bar. A local brewery is a specialty, like a local dairy or a local bakery; their products are something you can only get in one geographic locale. The people who like good beer enough to buy a Sam Adams are almost definitely the people who will drink a locally brewed beer – but how do you let THEM know that, and in fact, how do you stop them from buying that Sam Adams? And DO you want to stop them from buying that Sam Adams? Probably only where your beer is served.

It’s a delicate balance, to be sure. I think that Sean and Chris at Fullsteam are heading in the right direction with this attitude. I can’t wait to see more.

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Categories: appreciation, blog, brewery, op-ed
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 08 Apr 2009 @ 06 28 AM

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 02 Apr 2009 @ 9:59 AM 

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to get a response on my post about the Bittersweet Partnership from what would appear to be Kristy McReady, Communications Partner, whose job it is to “engage with consumers via press and the website to help raise awareness of women and beer as an issue and ultimately BitterSweet Partnership’s aims to address it.”

Meet Kristy!

Meet Kristy!

Which, well.. well done, Kristy. Mission accomplished… sorta.

For those of you just tuning in, here is the text of the post:

Kristy from BitterSweet here – thanks for picking up on the story.

The BitterSweet Partnership was launched as we believe that the beer industry has ignored women for far too long. We know that lots of women already love beer, but our research showed that almost 8 out of 10 women (77%) say they seldom or never drink it,.

The ‘clear beer’ is a completely new, ultra filtered beer product which is still in development and has yet to be launched or even named. We’re listening to all women to understand what they want from a beer, so this is just one product that we’re currently testing – we’re looking at product developments to match a whole range of tastes, plus creating better buying and drinking experiences for women. We’ll also be working with Coors Brewers to help inform the way Coors brands generally engage with women in the future.

We’re about making beer an acceptable and stylish drink choice for women, not about encouraging women to drink more – we strongly recommend that women stick to government guidelines on safe drinking.

I want to say that I think it’s admirable that the Bittersweet Partnership has taken the time to search Twitter and respond to blogs about this. I do wish that the response didn’t seem so … canned. I really do hope that it was Kristy doing this and not some minion on Kristy’s name. That would make me feel good. Given that Kristy is supposed to be in the UK and the post came in at 5:07 PM EDT (or 10:07 PM GMT), I’m not so sure, but I’m willing to give them (her?) the benefit of the doubt. [Note: The IP address checks out to a UK cable internet provider, so.. hey.. cool.]

Dear Kristy,

Thank you. I appreciate your input. I’d like to respond to your post in a few ways.

First, I’d like to point out that stating research statistics without a reference or any sort of methods is a bit tough to swallow. I’m not disagreeing with the finding, as I don’t find it necessarily surprising, but I see nothing here about who you asked, how you asked it, or why said women seldom or never drink beer, or even if you were merely asking about Coors products or beer in general. As a counterpoint, my research clearly shows that 83% (5 out of 6) of women drink beer but that 40% of those surveyed would prefer more elegant presentation in pub/club settings.

Furthermore, I think we need to redefine your terms a bit in order to get the real message from your post. I’d like to change “brewing industry” to “Coors” and “beer” to “Coors Product(s)” to give the content a little more perspective.

I think that there are a lot of women in the brewing industry who would be surprised to find out that they’re ignoring (other) women. In fact, the brewing industry as a whole isn’t ignoring women at all. Within the past couple of years, women’s relationship to beer has been a constant topic in the craft beer industry. There have been articles about it in trade magazines and it has a panel dedicated to it at the upcoming Craft Beer Conference. Marketing beer to women is part of improving the image of beer as a whole, especially in its relationship to wine and cocktails.

If we can change that sentence to “…we believe that Coors has ignored women for far too long…” then I think we have something more specific. It’s something that I can’t really speak to, as I don’t know enough about the inner working of Coors, but it’s something that you can speak to. You’re in the position to change that!

I have issues with the ultra-clear tea-and-fruit-flavored “beer” because I think at that point you’re changing the product. You might be selling beer by a very technical definition, but rather than helping your market segment understand why they should be buying your product, you’re changing your product for your market segment. Again, if we change “beer” to “Coors Product” I have a lot less issue with this. You’re creating a Coors Product that will appeal to a market segment? Awesome. Good luck with that. But let’s call an alcopop an alcopop.

The one area that I think is a great point in this post is the brief mention of “creating better buying and drinking experiences for women.” As a commenter mentioned yesterday, it can be difficult to be elegant while swigging beer out of a bottle. While most of the beer bars that I frequent have rather elegant glassware to choose from, that certainly is not the case for most common establishments, especially if we are focusing on (as I think we are in this case) specifically pub culture. That is where Coors, and by extension, the Bittersweet Partnership has the power to change a lot.

Craft brewers, because they still only command a very small market share, don’t have the kind of influence to be able to say to your normal dive bar, “you will serve our beer in this manner in this glassware.” At this point it’s still difficult to get a majority of places to carry a product and keep their tap lines clean, much less serve beer in special glasses. Coors, and other megabreweries, however are in the position of being able to dictate these conditions to and through their distributors.

Mmm.. wheaty.

Mmm.. wheaty.


By now, I think we all know that Blue Moon is a Coors product, and word is that we’re about to see a huge spike in marketing dollars pushed at the brand. If you put money toward providing specialized glassware for it and distributing it to every upscale sports bar in the U.S. that carries Blue Moon, instead of some strained television commercial that plays alongside truck ads during baseball games, I pretty much guarantee that you see an uptick in sales.

In summary: Bittersweet, I don’t disagree with what you’re doing, or that there’s a problem with how beer, as a product, is related to women, but I do disagree with your tactic in addressing it. It is broad generalization of the beer industry, broad generalization of women, and borders on willful misinformation as a backbone for a marketing campaign.

I look forward to trying and reviewing your ultra-clear “beer.”

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Categories: industry, op-ed
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 02 Apr 2009 @ 12 38 PM

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 01 Apr 2009 @ 7:15 AM 

Word around the intertubes is that Coors is developing a clear beer to market to women. It is reportedly flavored with green tea and dragon fruit, and is apparently going to taste more like an alcopop than the lager that it supposedly is. It’ll be launched in the UK first and then in US markets, the first release of the BitterSweet Partnership.

OMG!  Shopping!

OMG! Shopping!


I’m not a woman, but I feel fairly insulted by this on their behalf.

A quick snippet from their website, under the section “Shopping?”:

What if bars served beer in smaller glasses? What if beer came in sexy easy-to-carry boxes? What if it had fewer calories, would you feel better about drinking it?

Wow. Could we stereotype a little bit more here? Here’s a what-if: What if you didn’t portray women as objects in your commercials?

Shit, aren’t you just painting a similar picture with this marketing campaign?

“Girls don’t want drinks that are ICKY. Here, try this! It tastes like fairies!”

Are they really playing the “girls are fragile” card? They might as well be printing “Math is HARD” on pink fuzzy Hello Kitty bags. Those girls that they’re marketing to? They’re all 16 years old.

I’m also a little astonished that this partnership and this Partnership is helmed by five women. Kirsty, Kristy, Helen, Sarah, and Emma (all from marketing or sales, I think). Ladies: You are all successful business women. You have probably had to claw and scrape to get a decent amount of respect in the corporate world. I hope you’re getting compensated equally with your male peers.

But, look: I, too, have noticed that there are not as many female beer drinkers, but I know my share. In fact, lucky man that I am, I’m married to one. I can’t see any of the female beer drinkers I know putting down a well-made craft beer for an alcopop that’s marketed to be cute and girly. You wanna talk sexy? Let’s talk about girls who drink stouts and IPAs.

Most of the women I know who drink beer do tend to shy away from more hoppy brews. From there, though, there’s a pretty wide variance between those who gravitate toward more fruity beers (fruited lambics other fruit beers are popular), darker beers (porters and stouts are also popular), or light, somewhat sour beers (Belgian wits and geuzes are very popular). I can’t think of any woman I know that doesn’t drink beer because she is offended by its color. The color? Really?

I have an idea on how to get women to drink beer: educate them about it as you would any other human – they’re not a different species, for crissakes – and give them a place to drink beer that doesn’t feel like a dirty frat house. You want to get women interested? Sell them a beverage that they’re drinking to enjoy, one that pairs well with food, one with complexity of flavor, and varieties to explore. This “Partnership” is nothing but a desperate appeal to the “drink to get drunk” contingent.

Women out there – and I’m pretty sure I’ll only get beer drinkers here, but I could be wrong – how do you feel about this push by Coors? What kind of beer do you and don’t you like? What attracts you to a beer?

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Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 01 Apr 2009 @ 07 15 AM

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