Mexican Beer

The next two weeks I will be on vacation. Part of the time I will be in Mexico City. In honor of my trip here is a post about Mexican beer. I will resume regular posting on March 11.

Before 1910 most beer in Mexico was brewed by small brewers. In the 1890s big modern breweries developed and by 1899 five firms controlled sixty three percent of the market. By 1910 the major brewers distributed nationally. The companies were vertically integrated, holding monopolies in everything from bottles to the railroads.

Corona Extra is the sixth largest beer brand in America and the top import. Constellation Brands owns Corona and Modelo. Modelo is the seventh largest beer brand. An industry analysis of Constellation  stated “Constellation’s story includes … a powerful demographic tailwind. Its core consumer base skews towards Hispanics, a sizable demographic whose primacy will only increase over the coming years. We find it fairly intuitive that Hispanics place a premium on Mexican beer, as it speaks in part to a shared culture and heritage, and in our view, these dynamics are at the heart of Constellation’s superb operating profile…”  There are some stereotypical assumptions in this analysis. For the full analysis, click here.

In 2010 Heineken bought the Mexican brewer Femsa; its brands are Dos Equis and Tecate. The company had a 43 percent share of the Mexican beer market. Dos Equis is twentieth. A german brewer in Vera Cruz created it in the nineteenth century. Tecate is 29th; Since  2013 it has had a 35 percent decrease in shipments. For the  full list of the top 31 brands, go here.

Mexico has a small craft brewing segment. These brewers produce ale; the majority of Mexicans drink lager. Most Mexican craft beer is exported since there is not really a market for it within Mexico. Mexico is third in global exports of beer, most of which goes to Canada and the United States.

 

 

Stoudt’s Brewery Closing

There are not that many women in the brewing industry. Carol Stoudt was one of the pioneers, opening Stoudt’s in the 1980’s. This week she has announced that she is retiring and the brewery is closing. You can read more about this here and here. You can also hear an interview with her here.

In 2009, while spending a month in Manhattan, I went to a panel discussion on women in brewing. Carol Stoudt was one of the speakers. I wrote two post about the evening. You can read the  first here.  I am reposting the second one, from September 17, 2009, below.

Women in the Beer Industry: Part Two

The panel discussion on Tuesday was very engaging and went past two hours. Each of the speakers provided details about how they got into the industry. Carol Stoudt was an educator but got interested in beer through her husband who loved good beer. They travelled to Germany. On their return, Carol wondered why they could not have the same quality of beer at their restaurant in Adamstown, PA. She does not feel that being a woman hindered her career in brewing and credits two men, Karl Strauss and Greg Noonan, with helping her.

Carol, along with the other panelists, felt that it was mainly a myth that women do not like beer as much as men and that they liked to drink “fruity” beers more often. She blamed much of this perception on marketing and media. Carol also believes that women brewing beer has long historical roots and that there are now many places in the world where women are returning to this practice. In particular, she mentioned Ethiopia.

Jennifer Schwertman, the bartender, felt it was a matter of educating women about beer and having better bartenders to help with this process. She believes it is a partnership between brewers and the community palate. Jen loves the community around craft brewing as much as she loves the beer.

Sarah Beach is from Belgium and has worked for Duvel Moorgat/Ommegang for four years. She is in sales and said when she goes into a retail establishment for the first time they often asked her if she is old enough to drink beer. I thought it was interesting that she was included on the panel since Ommegang is a craft brewery that a larger company owns.

Susan Greene, from Global Brewers Guild, is involved in sales and marketing and has worked for the company for over six years. Prior to her working in the beer industry, she was involved with restaurants. Susan feels that although New York has numerous excellent restaurants, the establishments often have poor beer lists.  In this area, she feels other cities are better.

A common theme among many of the panelists was that the craft beer scene is more vibrant in other parts of the country, particularly the Pacific Northwest. All are committed to making craft beers a thriving presence in New York City.

Debbie Boening stated that her family company had been involved, along with the Van Munching’s in importing and distributing Heineken in America. When Heineken took back distribution, it left a big gap in  Boening’s portfolio. It was at this point that she started looking at craft beers. In the early 1980s, Jin Koch (Boston Beer) had to make several repeat visits before she would agree to sell Sam Adams.

One of her sales reps was in the audience and told of going to various stores and bars saying, “I have Stoudt’s for you.” The other person would reply, “We have Guinness.” Sales Rep:  “It’s Carol Stoudt.” “You want me to buy a woman’s beer?” However, the distinctiveness of a woman making Stoudt’s did provide entry. Debbie said that, despite having many excellent craft beers in her portfolio, Colt 45 was still her top seller.

None of the panelists really felt that being a woman in the beer industry had made their path more difficult. All felt that the craft beer industry is very welcoming and supportive. The audience was overwhelmingly female so there may be a completely new group of women anxious to enter the industry.

Prohibition, 100 Years Later

On January 17, it will be 100 years since Prohibition went into effect. Because of the current political climate  around immigration, I  am posting an excerpt  from Brewing Battles that describes the treatment some German-American brewers received  during the enactment of Prohibition.

The brewing industry was overwhelmingly German; most German-Americans drank beer as did many other Americans. Although German-Americans maintained many ties to Germany, the vast majority were second or third generation Americans. The founders of most breweries had immigrated to America in the 1840s and 1850s. World War I generated a tremendous amount of public hostility against Germans and German-Americans. For brewers and their fellow ethnic citizens, the war period was a test of their dual identities.

Some of the nation’s most prominent brewers faced these issues of loyalty and cultural identification as soon as America entered the war. One of New York’s most prominent brewers was George Ehret, Sr., the nation’s largest brewer in 1877. In 1914, Ehret, an American citizen, returned to Germany to live. In 1918 his son, George Ehret, Jr., turned over the family property with a value of $40 million to the federal government. A. Mitchell Palmer, who was then the Alien Property Custodian, found Ehret, Sr. to be “of enemy character.” Ehret had not broken any laws but appeared to be friendly with and under the protection of “powerful men.” He had also given large amounts of money to the German Red Cross since 1914. Palmer stated that Ehret, who was 83, could get his property back if he returned to America. He would then lose “his enemy character.” The Ehret family’s status as influential New Yorkers and wealthy Americans apparently did not mean as much as his German affiliations.[1]

Lily Busch, widow of Adolphus Busch, suffered similar problems. The Buschs, if not the country’s wealthiest brewing family then certainly its most ostentatious, owned several estates including a castle on the Rhine in Germany. Adolphus died in 1913; estimates of the value of his wealth ranged from $30 to $60 million.[2] Both Adolphus and Lily were born in Germany; Lily had become a naturalized citizen of the United States. When World War I broke out she made her German home a war hospital and served as a nurse. The German government took her property because she was an American citizen; the United States viewed her as enemy alien since she was in Germany. When she returned to the United States in 1918 the government seized her property and placed her under a form of house arrest. She died in 1928.[3]

The prosecution, if not persecution, of these prominent brewers and their families indicated the deep unease Americans felt about the presence of Germans in their country. The rhetoric of the Prohibition movement for most of its existence had been positive, extolling the virtues that removing alcohol from society would bring. . . . The final push that brought Prohibition, the Eighteenth Amendment, and the Volstead Act into being became negative and played on people’s fears as American faced a world that was unfamiliar and rapidly changing.

Jacob Rupert, owner of the New York Yankees and Jacob Rupert Brewery with Miss Harwood, 1921. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

 

[1] “Nation Gets Ehret Property,” New York Times, May 14, 1918, 1.

[2] “Adolphus Busch Dies In Prussia” New York Times, October 11, 1913, 15.

[3]; “Mrs. Lily Busch of St. Louis Dies,” New York Times, February 26, 1928, 27.

© All Rights Reserved Amy Mittelman 2020.

Molson Coors

At the end of last month, Molson Coors announced that it was restructuring and closing its offices in Denver and other places. This change could save the company up to 150 million dollars. Molson Coors is the parent company of Miller Coors. Although the company is laying off 500 workers, the restructuring will create some new white collar jobs in Milwaukee. Finance, human resources and other support services will consolidate and be based in Milwaukee. Milwaukee is the historic home of Miller beer.

Although some aspects of brewing will be in Milwaukee, the name Miller Coors will cease to exist. Instead it will become part of the North American division, headquartered in Chicago. Beside consolidating services and offices, the restructuring is part of a plan by Molson Coors Brewing to become Molson Coors Beverage company with a greater focus on products other than beer. Hard seltzer is on of the “new” company’s targets.

The loser in this plan is Denver. Coors has been a presence in Colorado for almost  150 years. The closing of the corporate offices will lead to 300 people losing their jobs. Colorado is facing this significant job loss as well as a loss of its corporate identity. The state remains second in craft brewing; California is first.

As the brewing industry seeks continued tax relief, perhaps  federal legislators will call Molson Coors to task for laying off 500 people. If you want more information on  Molson Coors, read here and here.

Beer Days

October 27,  Sunday, was National American Beer Day. I will confess that I had not idea such a day existed. I read about it here.  According to the  website, National Today American Beer Day is a day to “celebrate distinctly domestic lagers and ales brewed across the country.” The site also describes three other days that one can celebrate beer.

There is International Beer Day which occurs on the first Friday in August and is a “global celebration of beer, taking place in pubs, breweries, and backyards all over the world. It’s a day for beer lovers everywhere to raise a toast to our brewers and bartenders and rejoice in the greatness of beer!”

National Beer Day is on April 7th and commemorates the day that beer became legal again after 13 years of Repeal. Upon signing the legislation, FDR apparently remarked, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”

National Today also describes National Beer Can Appreciation Day which is January 24th.  January 24, 1934, the Krueger Brewing Company produce the first beer in cans. I posted about the history of beer cans in 2011.

Krueger can. Photo courtesy of Brewery Collectibles Club of America.

Besides these days, there is also Repeal Day which is Dec. 5 and represents the day in 1933 that all alcoholic beverages became legal again.  Most, if not all, of these days seem like marketing ploys. The days that commemorate actual historical events have more legitimacy, but, in the end, all of these celebrations exist to convince you to buy and drink more beer.

Mark your calendars and let the drinking commence!

Barley and Beer

A recent article looked at the relationship between barley and beer and the economic implications for both Alabama farmers and brewers. Nationally barley production is down; farmers less often use it as feed. One remaining use for barley is in brewing.

Alabama has never been a major producer of barley. Despite the national downturn there has been an increase in barley production in the state. There are over forty brewers in Alabama, and this may be a factor in the increase in barley production.

However, beer requires a higher quality barley than that needed for feed. This combined with the fact that there are not really any maltsters in the state has made barley production more of an aspiration for Alabama farmers than a reality. Brewers used roasted barley or malt in beer production, requiring maltsers to undertake this part of the process. The closest maltster for Alabama brewers is in North Carolina.

Here are some excerpts from Brewing Battles about a prominent patriot who was also a maltster, Sam Adams.

Henry Adams, the great-great grandfather of both John Adams, the second president, and Samuel Adams, noted patriot, emigrated from Somerset County, England with his wife Edith to Mount Wollaston, now Braintree, in the Puritan colony of Massachusetts, around 1636. Henry’s arrival in the New World was twenty-seven years after the Mayflower and seven years after the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Company. He was a farmer.[1]

Henry Adams immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony with his wife, eight sons, and a daughter. The youngest son, Joseph, was born in 1626. As an adult, Joseph pursued his economic livelihood by farming and malting, preparing barley for its use in fermentation and brewing.[2]

Joseph Adams’ malting operations seem to have passed down to Deacon Samuel Adams, father of his namesake, the patriot Sam Adams who was born in 1722. At the time of his birth, settlement in the New World was over one hundred years old and the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages, including beer, was thriving. His father’s malt house generated enough income to provide the family with a house, orchard, garden, and a few slaves.[3]

The Sugar Act brought Sam Adams to prominence as he wrote eloquently in opposition to the tax. Adams was concerned that the Sugar Act represented the first shot in a battle for a widespread taxation system. He argued for individual control over economic activity against the grasp of the British government. “If our trade may be taxed, why not our lands? Why not the produce of our lands and everything we possess or make use of?”[4]

Sam had inherited the malt house on Purchase Street in Boston from his father when he died in 1748. He had not shown any previous aptitude for business and had always been more interested in politics. By the 1760s Sam worked more often as a town tax collector than at the malt house. This position increased his political connections.[5]

The beer ration for revolutionary war soldiers reflected, in part, General George Washington’s fondness for beer. As hostilities heated up between the colonies and Britain prior to the Revolution, patriots such as Sam Adams and others encouraged Americans to “buy American.” Washington, who loved porter and often imported it from England, agreed wholeheartedly. In the 1790s Washington got his porter from Benjamin Morris, a member of the Morris and Perot brewing family.[6]

 

[1] “John Adams,” Dictionary of American Biography Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center, Farmington Hills, Michigan: Thomson Gale, 2006, http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC (accessed March 3, 2006); Benjamin H. Irwin, Samuel Adams, Son of Liberty, Father of Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2002), 6­­-9, 15.

[2] James Grant, John Adams, Party of One (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2005), 18.

[3] Irwin, Samuel Adams, 17.

[4] Quoted in Irvin, Samuel Adams, 47, 44-45; Baron, Brewed in America, 74-75.

[5] Irvin, Samuel Adams, 47, 44-45; Baron, Brewed in America, 74-75.

[6] Baron, Brewed in America, 113-117.

Hickenlooper

John Hickenlooper, erstwhile presidential candidate, is also a former craft brewer and former Governor of Colorado. He has an online only ad that highlights his career as a brewer. In 1988, he co-founded  Wynkoop Brewery.

The ad is full of brewing references; comparing the country’s polarization to debates in the brewing community over “hazy IPA and pastry stout.” You can read more about the ad here.

In 1988, Hickenlooper and three other men including brew-master Russell Schehrer started a brewpub with pool tables in Denver.  The brewery did produce beer for retail but stopped that in 2016.  Hickenlooper divested his holding when he ran for governor in 2010.

Wynkoop and Breckenridge Brewery merged in 2011,  forming Breckenridge-Wynkoop. The company sold Breckenridge Brewery to In Bev Anheuser-Busch in 2015. Colorado has over 400 breweries and is fourth in  in the country for number of breweries.

Although Hickenlooper has been successful  as a brewer, businessman and Governor, his presidential campaign has not gained much traction.  The New York  Times has an  article, “The Extraordinary Humbling of John Hickenlooper ,” which details his lackluster performance. I would be very surprised if he was on the debate stage in September.

As you may have noticed, I failed to post a blog last week. We had been traveling and my life has been really hectic; dealing with various personal issues. I am posting today because I will be out of town on Wednesday. I will also be unable to post the following two Wednesdays. I hope to and have every  expectation  of resuming my regularly scheduled postings on Aug. 21. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Maine Beer

I recently read an article about Maine beer. The state is second, after Vermont, in the number of breweries per capita. Maine has over 80 breweries.[1]  Maine’s love of beer is a recent development. Here is an explanation from Brewing Battles.

“In Jacksonian America, the various states regulated the retail sale of alcohol, placing license fees on dealers as a minimal control on consumption. The growing temperance movement attacked the license system as inadequate and advocated new legislation. By 1850 reformers had moved from local control of liquor sales to statewide prohibition.[2] In every northern state except New Jersey and Pennsylvania legislators enacted or popular referenda passed “inclusive prohibitory or constitutional measures.”[3]

“In the 1850s, no state had the police capacity to enforce the provisions of this legislation, known as the Maine Law. As a result, advocates of the legislation created extra-legal groups, ostensibly to gather evidence and swear out complaints. Unfortunately, the “leagues” often overstepped these boundaries, generating violence. Both retailers and drinkers refused to accept the legitimacy of prohibition legislation. Liquor sellers organized to fight the Maine Law and the extra-legal enforcement “leagues,” and German and Irish immigrants opposed the law for cultural and economic reasons. The working class as a whole also resisted state intrusion into customary behavior.”[4]

Maine was the first state to pass such a law. Most states repealed the legislation by the 1860s. Maine repealed its law temporarily but reinstated it in 1857 and didn’t repeal it until 1934.[5]

Today, however, Maine is a poor state and beer is a source of reliable revenue. You can go on a Maine Beer trail and visit some of the over 80 breweries. We will be in Maine in August and I plan to visit at least of few of the breweries on the trail. I’ll let you know about the results.

 

[1] https://www.craftbrewingbusiness.com/news/infographic-what-states-have-the-most-breweries-per-resident/

[2] Tyrrell, Sobering Up, 226.

[3]; The Cyclopaedia of Temperance and Prohibition, (New York, 1891), 275–361.

[4] Tyrrell, Sobering Up, 290–307.

[5] William L. Downard, Dictionary of the History of the American Brewing and Distilling Industries (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980), 17.

Happy July 4th

In honor of the Fourth of July, here is an article about the top twenty-five beers in America, according to home brewers. I haven’t drunk many of them so the article has given me a goal.

Apparently today is  “National Independent Beer Run Day”; a day that the Brewers Association made up to get consumers to buy  independent, that is not macro beer, for the holiday. Marketing schemes like this are not new.

After Repeal, brewers attempted various campaigns The most prominent one was for bock beer in the spring. Here is another post from my pre-WordPress blog. It was for the Session, which was a blog carnival, which stopped publishing in 2018.

July 4, 2008


The Session #17: Going Against the Grain: Drinking Anti-Seasonally 

In my book, Brewing Battles,I explored the attempts of the immediate post-Prohibition brewers to develop a marketing strategy that would cover all seasons. The centerpiece was bock beer; for the journal, Modern Brewery Age,  this beer was the epitome of spring.

In the years before beer marketing was national and also before wide spread air-conditioning, the summer months usually saw an up surge in beer sales. However today it is not clear if increased beer drinking is so synonymous with warm weather.

Brewers vary in their focus on bock beer as a harbinger of spring. On a personal level when it is very warm I prefer a lighter beer such as a heifenweizen with a lemon. I also like a shandy or panache but I have been told that brewers dislike such combinations.

The Session is a blog carnival originated by Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer.  For a summary of the Sessions thus far, check out Brookston’s handy guide

 

 

Light Beer

Recently the New York Times had an article about craft brewers trying to create new  craft version of light beer. This is a bit like trying to square a circle since low calorie beers are generally also low in taste  and represent the largest selling beer in macro brewers product lineup.

Here is an excerpt from Brewing Battles about Miller’s creation of lite beer.

Following the purchase of Meister Brau, Miller began working on its own low calorie beer. In 1975 Miller unveiled Miller Lite and made history. John Murphy, the McCann Erickson advertising company, and Miller Brewing, using the resources of Phillip Morris, unleashed an advertising campaign on an unprecedented level for the brewing industry. With their clever, sports-driven television commercials, Miller created a new product and greatly accelerated the consolidation of the brewing industry. Miller expended vast sums to market and promote Miller Lite which eventually prodded Anheuser–Busch to develop its own light beer, Bud Light, and match Miller’s advertising spending. Ultimately most of the country’s other brewers could not keep up. Miller steadily and rapidly gained market share, not at the expense of Anheuser–Busch but by incapacitating Pabst, Schlitz, and others.[1]

Miller wanted people who liked sports to drink Miller Lite; the company’s advertising used sports heroes to drive home the point that men drank the new beer. Matt Snell, a New York Jet who had played in Super Bowl III in 1969 when the Jets beat the favorite, the Baltimore Colts, was in the first Miller Lite commercial. This first ad was not funny and used the tag line “new lite beer from Miller is all you ever wanted in a beer and less.” The focus was on carbohydrates; eventually “less filling” became the key message.[2]

The second commercial was with Mickey Spillane, the crime writer, and Lee Meredith, a Playboy Bunny of 1973. Meredith was “the doll” in the commercials that tried to be funny about athletes and their unsuccessful flirting with a beautiful woman. The appearance of the athletes in the commercial legitimated the masculinity of drinking Miller Lite and indicated that the market for sports was nationalizing as was the market for beer.

The final tagline for the commercials became “Lite Beer from Miller. Everything you wanted in a beer . . . and less.” Many of the spots featured athletes and other figures debating between “tastes great” and “less filling.” It took Anheuser–Busch over a year to respond. The company essentially copied Miller’s advertising strategy and lured away several of the athletes including Mickey Mantle.[3] Ironically, Mantle would die in 1995 following a liver transplant that was necessary due to advanced alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver.[4]

Figure 20: Lite Point of Sale, 1976. Photo courtesy of Miller Brewing Company Archives.

[1] “150 years of Miller beer”; Frank Deford, Lite Reading: The Lite Beer From Miller Commercial Scrapbook (New York: Penguin Books, 1984), 30.

[2] Deford, Lite Reading, 31.

[3] Ibid.,  34, 43, 49.

[4] Joseph Durso, “Mickey Mantle, Great Yankee Slugger, Dies at 63,” New York Times, August 14, 1995, A1.