Inside Beer - February 6th, 2020

Inside Beer (Feb 6th, 2020)

Flagship February / Moderation January / Founders Detroit Taproom reopens

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1. It's Flagship February, the month that beer writers and others in the industry wax poetically about various breweries' flagship brews. Each person chooses a flagship beer to highlight, not to help increase the sales of that beer but because, as the website says, "flagship beers have much to teach drinkers and remind older drinkers, and if they fall off the radar so far that they disappear completely, we will all be that much poorer for it." Each day's post varies in length and style. Today's post, written by Em Sauter, author of the illustrated book “Beer is for Everyone! (of Drinking Age),” is done mostly in comic form. She chose Maine Lunch IPA from Maine Beer Company, saying "it's the beer that changed what IPA could be." -- FLAGSHIP FEBRUARY

2. More people seemed to have practiced alcoholic moderation rather than total abstinence in January. The market research firm IRI found that while sales of non-alcoholic beers saw an increase last month, they accounted for only 0.4 percent of all beer sales. It was lower-calorie and lower-ABV drinks, rather than no-alcohol drinks, that really saw an uptick last month. Sales of brands like Michelob Ultra, White Claw, and Truly increased compared to the same month last year, with the two seltzer brands increasing sales by 80 percent compared to January 2019. Natural Light Naturdays, Busch Light, Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing, and Twisted Tea alcoholic tea also saw significant increases in sales compared to the first month of 2019. Overall, IRI reports that beer sales in grocery, convenience and other outlets it tracks were up 3.3 percent last month, and at their highest since January 2015. -- GOOD BEER HUNTING

3. On Super Bowl Sunday, draft beer consumption declined 1.3 percent compared to last year's biggest day in football. Those who watched the game in bars serviced by BeerBoard - a data organization that manages over $1 billion in draft sales of more than 45,000 products annually - says that although the game kept people glued to the TV until the last moments, those last moments didn't translate into extra beer sales. Michelob Ultra had the best day of the brews that BeerBoard tracked, with a 28.7 percent increase over last year's sales. Bud Light sales fell 22 percent. On-premise craft sales were up overall by 3 percent compared to last year, with Lagunitas IPA seeing the biggest increase, 26 percent. -- BREWBOUND

4. To support the craft beer industry, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill removing tax from beer flights sold at breweries throughout the state. State Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo said the tax reform "will encourage consumers to try different varieties of beer while supporting New York’s world-class craft breweries." Cuomo said in a statement that the legislation will help New York breweries "reinvest in their businesses while creating jobs, growing local tourism and help to revitalize regional economies." -- WROC

5. At the Ohio Craft Brewers Conference last week, analyst Chris Shepard issued warnings to industry members. As the keynote speaker, he noted that seltzer - not craft beer - is now the shining star of the beverage industry. He also told members that they are now part of the "beverage industry" not just the "beer industry," and that expanding portfolios beyond beer with spirits, wine and other beverages is one of the positive trends happening in the industry. -- AKRON BEACON JOURNAL

6. Registration is now open for the Can Can Awards, a beer judging competition for canned beer only. Until June 5, breweries can register their beers for $49 per submission. The beers will be judged by BJCP- and Cicerone- certified judges and other beer industry professionals who will blind taste the beers from around the world. The competition will take place June 12-14 at Hop City Craft Beer & Wine in Atlanta. -- CRAFT BREWING BUSINESS

7. The top bars around the world revealed their most popular beers, and they are "shockingly basic." The trade publication Drinks International polled 106 top bars from around the world, it came up with a list of the top 10 most popular beers poured at them in 2019. Heineken came out on top. Corona, Bud and Stella also made the top 10 list. -- VINEPAIR

8. After it closed three and a half months ago due to backlash from a racial discrimination lawsuit, Founders Detroit Taproom has reopened. The taproom has hired a new manager, Emily Faulkner, and income from the taproom will get donated to local Detroit charities for the next three years. Additionally, Founders says it will hire more qualified Detroit residents and implement hiring practices for those with criminal records. -- TENEMU

9. What beers should you pair with the Best Picture Nominees at the 2020 Oscars this weekend? These suggestions pair the French 3 Monts Flanders Gold Ale with frontrunner "1917," a war movie set in France. Evil Genius Brewing Company's Trick or Treat was chosen for both "The Joker" and "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" because the spiced pumpkin beer is divisive in the beer world, just as the movies' nominations are in the film world. -- PORCH DRINKING

10. Bend, Oregon's Deschutes Brewery is collaborating with neighbor Riff Cold Brewed for a new seasonal release. Luna Jo is a beer/coffee combo that marries a dark, Mexican style lager and Riff's Off The Cuff cold-brewed coffee. The 5 percent ABV beer is currently on draft at Deschutes and Riff's. It will begin shipping to distributors this week in 12-ounce, six pack bottles. -- NEW SCHOOL BEER

Robin Shreeves is a wine, beer, spirits and travel writer. She's the wine columnist and restaurant and beverage features writer for the Courier Post newspaper in New Jersey. She holds an Intermediate Sommelier certification from the Wine School of Philadelphia. Her food and drinks writing can be found at Wine Enthusiast, VinePair, Food Network, Spirited magazine, USA Today, Mother Nature Network, Drink Nation, Edible Philly and Edible Jersey. Visit her website and follow her on Instagram at @rshreeves

Editor: Beth Duckett, staff writer at Inside.

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