Ale to Usher in Baseball Season – New York Times
Beer Review: American Porters
The relationship between beer and baseball still recalls those easy days before personal computers and steroids, when players spent entire careers with one team and you could actually afford to take your family to the ballpark and sit in the good seats. The only smudge in this rosy vision of yore is the beer itself.
Start Spreading The News: The Made-In-New York Spirits Movement Is Booming – Huffington Post
That all began to change in 2004, when Tuthilltown Spirits, based in the Hudson Valley, started selling their vodka and whiskeys. It was the first time that made-in-New York spirits had been legally available since before Prohibition. Since then, distilleries have sprung up all over the state, and in the city as well — especially Brooklyn, the East Coast epicenter of the cocktail-hipster community. Nurtured by a supportive network of local bars and liquor stores, and spreading the word using social media and word-of-mouth, it’s a movement that’s still in its infancy, but growing by leaps and bounds.
6 Refreshing Cocktails For Spring – Huffington Post / Imbibe
Spring is in the air, which means it’s time to pull out the patio furniture and gear up for some warm-weather imbibing. From bright, citrusy cocktails to drinks infused with market-fresh ingredients, this crop of seasonally inspired recipes will help you usher in the warmer weather ahead.
Nut Job: Orgeat is no longer strictly almond – Tasting Table
Orgeat is the new bitters.
Until recently, the almond-based syrup was most commonly associated with tiki drinks. Now, it’s the latest cocktail ingredient to be split at the seams and stitched together again by bartenders far and wide.
These new orgeats fall far from the almond tree. Here, your nut-centric guide to alternative sweetening:
Pistachio: At 1886 in Los Angeles, pistachio orgeat flavors the Holland Daze, which also has Bols Genever, maraschino liqueur, lemon and Sambuca bitters.
Pecan: Dedicated to using only Southern ingredients, the team at Husk in Charleston faced a problem when it came to orgeat, as almonds didn’t grow anywhere nearby. Their solution: Local pecans comprise the syrup, which is used in a Rum Swizzle.
Macademia: Lani Kai in New York City is decidedly not a tiki bar. So logic follows that it would sway from tiki tradition when it came to orgeat. In touch with the bar’s Hawaiian theme, the orgeat is made with macadamias, a prized commodity of the islands, for the Tree House Cocktail.
Cashew: In London, Shaker & Company uses cashews to inform the orgeat in the Call Me the Milkman cocktail, with vodka, orange liqueur, absinthe and lemon.
Walnut: Giving an autumnal twist to the summer-friendly Mai Tai, Top Flr in Atlanta uses an orgeat of maple syrup and walnuts for its Rye Tai cocktail.
For orgeat experimentation at home, start at the beginning with a classic Japanese cocktail from Jerry Thomas
How to Build Buzz for Bud: More Alcohol, Lime-a-Rita – Wall Street Journal
Luiz Edmond has a big assignment at the world’s largest brewer: Get Americans to stop ditching his company’s beer.
The president of North American operations for Anheuser-Busch InBev NV BUD -0.47% is leading a drive to win consumers back to its brands, including Bud Light and Budweiser, which are the nation’s top-selling and third-best-selling beers but have been steadily losing drinkers to smaller brewers or to liquor.
This year, Anheuser plans to launch 19 new products in the U.S., its biggest such push since Belgium’s InBev acquired St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch for$52 billion in 2008. New offerings include small-batch “craft” brews, cider and an expanded lineup of malt beverages that take their cues from tequila and tea instead of beer.
Among other strategies being rolled out by Mr. Edmond to lure consumers: Hike the alcohol content of light beer. Lean more heavily on the iconic Clydesdale draught horses in marketing. Rein in distributors who have picked up rival brands.
Anheuser’s North American operating margins have soared above 40% from under 30% in 2008. But the merged company’s U.S. shipments have fallen for three straight years, slipping below 100 million barrels in 2011 for the first time since 2000. After last year’s 3.2% drop in shipments, Anheuser’s share of the U.S. beer market has shrunk to 46.9% from 48.9% in 2008, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights, a trade publication and data service.
Mr. Edmond, a native of Brazil, isn’t sure the company will sell more beer in the U.S. this year. But he is hopeful the economic recovery is finally reaching the young, lower-income males that have long represented Anheuser-Busch’s core customers. He expects market-share losses to narrow. “I think it will be better than last year,’” he said.
The 45-year-old Mr. Edmond, an engineer by training, has worked for more than 20 years in the beer industry, almost all of them in Brazil. Before moving to St. Louis in 2008, he headed AmBev, Brazil’s dominant brewer, which merged with Belgium’s Interbrew in 2004 to form InBev.
After InBev acquired Anheuser-Busch, fancy office suites in St. Louis were razed. Mr. Edmond shares a long table with several other top executives, part of an open floor plan for employees. Almost all wear jeans, including Mr. Edmond.
Anheuser isn’t the only big brewer struggling to keep customers. Shipments at MillerCoors LLC, the No. 2 U.S. player by volume, slumped 3.0% in 2011 as its market share dipped to 28.4%, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights. MillerCoors, a joint venture between London’s SABMiller SAB.LN -0.63% PLC and Denver-based Molson Coors Brewing Co., TAP -0.07% is boosting its advertising budget for troubled Miller Lite by 50% this summer.
The volume declines coincide with the rise of hundreds of small, independent U.S. brewers that pitch bolder-tasting beers such as India Pale Ales, or IPAs, to consumers increasingly seeking variety. Production at U.S. craft breweries soared 13% in 2011, topping 10 million barrels for the first time, according to the Brewers Association. The total U.S. beer market is roughly 200 million barrels.
Anheuser is responding by expanding its own offerings, including Bud Light Platinum, which it launched in late January. The 6% alcohol content is higher than the 4.2% in Bud Light, which has suffered three straight years of volume declines. Platinum is also sweeter and sold in a cobalt blue bottle, in part to generate buzz in bars, where more drinkers have been reaching for spirits.
The new beer has quickly captured more than a 1% market share, despite frequently running out of stock in recent weeks amid stronger-than-expected demand. Anheuser is increasing production, with six of the company’s 12 breweries in the U.S. to supply Platinum by this summer, up from two earlier this year.
“Platinum, that’s a game changer for us,” Mr. Edmond said.
At its research brewery in St. Louis, Anheuser is experimenting with three new beers each day. One of them, a wheat IPA, arrived in U.S. stores in February under its Shock Top label, which competes against craft beers. Shock Top sales doubled last year, boosted by new flavors such as pumpkin ale.
Some of Anheuser’s new products have little to do with beer. Bud Light Lime-a-Rita, an 8% alcohol malt beverage arriving in stores in April, tastes like a margarita. The company is rolling out a tea-and-lemonade drink in April and a cider in May, each containing 4% alcohol, under the Michelob beer brand.
It also has stepped up marketing for Stella Artois, its biggest Belgian beer, whose shipments to U.S. retailers soared 24% last year to top one million barrels. Volumes of Goose Island, a smaller, Chicago-based craft brewer Anheuser bought last year for $39 million, grew more than 20%.
But Mr. Edmond said Bud Light and Budweiser, which together still represent more than half of the company’s U.S. sales, remain top priorities. Last year Bud Light kicked off a six-year sponsorship deal with the National Football League, at a reported cost of more than $1 billion. The company recently hired new ad agencies, part of a plan to make the brand’s humor-focused ads more high-brow.
Anheuser is trying to stabilize Budweiser, whose U.S. shipments have fallen 23 straight years, by drawing heavily on the brand’s more distant past. A new TV commercial recreates a scene from 1933, when Clydesdale horses delivered Budweiser at the end of Prohibition. The famous pull horses have also been bringing more free samples of Budweiser to festivals and fairs.
Last November, Anheuser also told more than 500 wholesalers who distribute its products across the U.S. that it wants them to sell fewer rival brews. The company warned that wholesalers who aren’t tightly “aligned” with Anheuser might be prevented from acquiring other wholesalers through equity agreements, a type of business contract, that Anheuser holds with the wholesalers.
The toughening rhetoric has made a growing number of wholesalers “anxious,” said Joe Thompson, president of Independent Beverage Group, a beer-industry consultancy. Brewers and distillers are required to distribute alcohol through intermediaries instead of selling them directly to retailers.
Mr. Edmond isn’t making any apologies, saying wholesalers will have to decide which brewer they want to partner with most closely. “I’m loyal to my wholesalers. Why would I not expect the same loyalty to me,” he said.