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"New Normal" Amidst a "Summer of Speculation," Detailed by NBWA Prexy Craig Purser in NY

NBWA prexy Craig Purser laid out a series of stresses and concerns for distribs that he dubbed the "New Normal" in speech to NY distribs, occurring against backdrop of all the global deal chatter during what he called "the Summer of Speculation." Surveying distribs (over 200 responses) about "most important issues" just prior to fall convention, #1 issue on their minds was "Franchise laws," named by 50% of distribs. (Distribs could name 3 issues.). Number #2 "supplier issues" at 36%, Retailers 33% and profitability 29% (new on list). Interestingly, branches at 21%, Craig noted, even tho branches "only operate in 12 states."

What other conditions constitute this "New Normal"? Inventory issues, "whether it's out-of-stock or being jammed, that's very much top of mind" and "a lot of states are looking at that." Then too, "trade practices are getting a lot of attention." And if some "are left unchecked," those "could be very bad" for the beer biz. Then too there are "delays and obstacles" in approving succession mgt for distribs. And some suppliers attempting to get legislation to allow "item of value exemptions" and be able to "frankly give more" in trade. That coupled with Wal-Mart's purchase order initiative, Monster terminations, AB's branch expansion efforts and more, make for pretty full plate for distribs these days. As

ked about increased blurring of 3-tier lines, where breweries buying branches, wholesalers buying into craft and craft holding retail licenses, Craig noted that "seven states have closed that option" of expanding brewery branches. So "trend is going in the other direction. There hasn't been a single state that has allowed them to buy." States "don't like that," maintained Craig, and "in light of day," measures limiting or prohibiting branches "pass overwhelmingly." Meanwhile, craft brewer self-distribution has "survived Granholm scrutiny" and "majority of states now allow that" but key is not to "just seek to give advantage to in-state guy."

 

Beer Prices Up 1.4% Thru Sep in Govt Data

The consumer price index for beer increased 1.6% in Sep vs a yr ago, just below 1.7% gain for general inflation. That’s largest monthly gain for beer since Apr. Spirits CPI up a more modest 0.9% in Sep vs yr ago while wine prices were down 0.2%. That’s 8 straight monthly declines for wine prices and spirits prices have not had a monthly increase of 1% or higher since Jan. YTD thru 3d qtr, CPI for beer was up avg 1.4%, trailing 1.7% increase for general inflation while spirits prices were up 0.6% and wine off 0.5%.

 

Rebel Rouser Enters Ring for Round 2 of Boston IPA Program

Not sure if lightning can strike twice, but Boston Beer is certainly throwing one-two punch at IPA category in 2014-15. New Rebel Rouser Double IPA debuts early next yr, building on huge success of Rebel IPA. It's bigger, up at 8.4% ABV and 80 IBUs, so may not have quite the same volume potential as Rebel. But plenty of nodding heads during debut tasting at GABF media brunch likely a good sign. Suggested retail for Rebel Rouser 6-packs at $8.99-$10.99, about a buck higher than Rebel and Boston Lager, per co. Founder/chairman Jim Koch and Boston team "can't claim a lot of innovation" with this particular release, Jim said during Friday event in Denver, as "it's a double IPA," now a well-known style done straight up with combo of classic and en vogue hop varieties.