Beers Americans No Longer Drink

American beer sales have been trending downwards in recent years. After peaking at nearly 219 million barrels in 2008, total U.S. shipments have declined since, reaching just 211.7 million barrels in 2013.

The recent drops in beer sales have been especially pronounced at many of the nation’s top brewers. Total shipments of both Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD) and MillerCoors have slumped as several of their major brands have lost substantial market share. According to data provided by Beer Marketer’s Insights, American sales of seven major brands, including Budweiser, declined by more than 20% between 2008 and 2013.

According to Eric Shepard, executive editor at Beer Marketer’s Insights, major beer brands can still point to the last recession as a contributing factor to their current slump. “The people that got hit hardest in the economic recession were your mainstream beer drinkers — lower- to mid-income males, 25 to 34 [years old],” Shepard said.

Another key factor in the weakening sales has been price dynamics. “Beer prices were increased more aggressively over the last five years than wine and spirits,” Shepard said. Many people in the industry believe that, as a result, some customers replaced buying beer with the now relatively less expensive wines and spirits, he explained.

Several other products were also gaining at the expense of big brand-name beers, Shepard noted. While some customers have been moving to wine and spirits, others were switching to imported beer, particularly Mexican imports. Indeed, in the five years through 2013, shipments of Mexican brands Dos Equis and Modelo Especial more-than doubled. Similarly, he added, “Some [drinkers] are moving to craft [beer]. Clearly, there’s been a trade-up in the industry.”

Craft beers have largely bucked the overall downtrend in beer sales. From 2008 to 2013, shipments of craft beer rose by 80.1% to a total of more than 16 million barrels, or 7.6% of the U.S. beer market. While the craft beer category now outsells Budweiser, it remains a relatively niche market. For comparison, the nation’s top-selling brand, Bud Light, shipped 38 million barrels in 2013, accounting for 18% of all beer shipped.

While the last few years have been difficult for many large brewers, they, too, have been introducing new products that combine well-known brand names with new concepts that appeal to consumers. In recent years, Anheuser-Busch has introduced Bud Light Platinum, a higher alcohol content beer with a sweeter flavor; Bud Light Ritas, a margarita-inspired malt beverage; and Shock Top, its own take on craft beer. As of last year, these three brands had captured 2% of the overall beer market.

To identify the seven beers Americans no longer drink, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed figures provided by Beer Marketer’s Insights for all brands with more than 1 million barrels shipped in 2008. All of these seven brands reported a 20% or more decline in shipments in the five years through 2013.

These are the beers Americans no longer drink.

5. Budweiser

> Sales loss (2008-2013): -27.6%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev
> Barrels shipped (2013): 16,000,000

Budweiser is one of the most famous brands in the world. Created in 1876, Budweiser quickly established itself as a national brand through, at the time, innovative production and distribution methods. These included introducing pasteurization to the beer industry as well as refrigerated rail cars. Today, Budweiser is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, which was formed after Belgian brewer InBev acquired American beer titan Anheuser-Busch for $52 billion in 2008. The sale of an iconic American brand to a foreign company initially caused some outrage. However, Americans themselves are drinking far less Budweiser than in years past. Shipments of the brand fell nearly 28% between 2008 and 2013.

4. Milwaukee’s Best Light
> Sales loss (2008-2013): -40.6%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels shipped (2013): 1,010,000

Shipments of Milwaukee’s Best Light fell by more than 40% between 2008 and 2013. Previously quite small, Milwaukee’s Best Light held just a 0.5% U.S. market share last year. Whereas Budweiser and Miller Lite are considered premium brands, Milwaukee’s Best is part of the discount brand category. An improving American economy since 2008 may explain at least part of the drop in shipments. Americans’ buying habits shifted towards cheap beers during the recession. But now that the economy is stronger, the trend seems to be reversing again.

3. Milwaukee’s Best
> Sales loss (2008-2013): -57.0%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels shipped (2013): 580,000

MillerCoors describes Milwaukee’s Best as being “brewed for a man’s taste,” and as “Highly drinkable. Highly affordable.” The brand has also experienced a downturn in popularity over the last few years. From 2008 to 2013, brand shipments declined by 57%, or 770,000 barrels in total, and its market share slumped from 0.6% in 2008 to 0.3% last year. Like its light beer counterpart, Milwaukee’s Best is a discount brand, and some of its sales drop can likely be explained by customers switching to higher-priced brands as the economy has improved. Still, some discount brands have been able to retain, and even grow, market share in the improved economy. Shipments of Pabst Blue Ribbon rose 71.5% between 2008 and 2013.

2. Miller Genuine Draft
> Sales loss (2008-2013): -58.3%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels shipped (2013): 1,175,000

In its advertisements, Miller Genuine Draft claims it captures a “the fresh taste of draft beer in a bottle.” According to AdAge, when launching the brand, Miller successfully “used advertising from Backer & Spielvogel, New York, that touted the brand’s cold-filtering process, a technique long used by rival Coors but not mentioned in its advertising.” Draft taste or not, interest in the brand has plummeted in recent years, as sales dropped 58% from 2008 through 2013.

1. Budweiser Select
> Sales loss (2008-2013): -61.1%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev
> Barrels shipped (2013): 525,000

Anheuser-Busch introduced Budweiser Select in 2005 as a full-flavored light beer. Select is one of a number of initiatives that have been tried over the years to revive the Budweiser brand. Other attempts included Budweiser Black Crown, an amber lager, and Budweiser Chelada, a beer and clamato mix. Budweiser Select, however, does not appear to have been the answer for falling sales. Shipments of Budweiser Select declined 61% from 2008 through 2013, more than twice the decline for traditional Budweiser in that time.

Recipe: Texas Breakfast Beer Bread

Ingredients:

  • 5 strips bacon
  • 2 to 3 jalapeños (depending on heat level — ours are pretty hot right now so I used 2)
  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (preferably grade B)
  • 1 beer (I used Abita Amber which gave it a nice but not overpowering beer flavor)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple sugar

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350° F. Crisp the bacon in a skillet. When the bacon is cooked, drain it on paper towels and pour 3 tablespoons of bacon fat into a loaf pan (to be honest, I didn’t measure, I just dumped. Five strips center-cut bacon produced what looked like about 3 tablespoons of fat). This bread is not for the faint of heart: Did I mention that? Roughly chop the bacon.
  2. Remove the stems and seeds from the jalapeños and roughly chop them.
  3. Put the flour into a mixing bowl. Mix in the cheddar cheese.
  4. Now make a well in the middle and pour in the maple syrup and the beer.
  5. Mix together until everything is moistened and combined (a few lumps are okay).
  6. Break the cream cheese into small chunks (I just pulled it apart by hand, but you can also cut the block into smaller pieces) and drop them into the dough. Add the jalapeños and bacon and fold them in until everything is uniformly mixed.
  7. Now scoop the dough into the loaf pan and spread it evenly. Pour the melted butter on top (yeah, I know) and put the pan on a baking sheet and into the oven. Set the time for 20 minutes.
  8. At 20 minutes, sprinkle the sugar on top of the loaf, then bake the bread for another 40 minutes, or until a toothpick test comes out clean.
  9. Allow the bread to cool for about 10 minutes before turning it out of the pan.

Inside the world of beer league hockey

Where playing the game is as important as celebrating afterward … win or lose.

As a teenager, Joe Mohrfeld played hockey against Shattuck-St. Mary’s, the famed Minnesota boarding school that counts NHL superstars Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews as alumni.

“They destroyed us,” he tells me before jumping the boards. “Especially on their ice.”

On this night, 18 years later, and on this ice, tucked into the back end of an Austin, Texas, strip mall, the hockey is not quite as good. Author Don Gillmor’s observation that hockey’s beautiful geometry is never more obvious than when it doesn’t work is on display as passes miss their mark and shots fly wide.

The rink itself smells stale, like freezer burn.

A sallow patina has jaundiced patches of the walls like armpits on an old white T-shirt. Despite this, players come and go with an evident pride of place. It’s late on a weeknight, but the parking lot hosts a dozen players whose own games ended one, two, even three hours ago.

Inside, Mohrfeld, 32, tallies two goals for his team, dubbed the Junior Ehs, but his on-ice contributions are secondary: Tonight the acclaimed former head brewer at Odell Brewing Co. and current director of brewing at Pinthouse Pizza Brewpub has beer duty.

“We don’t draft Joe for the goals,” says Ehs co-captain Paul Eno, 46, whose team is so upbeat you’d never guess they lost. “We draft him for the growlers.”

This is beer league hockey, where it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s whether you brought the beer. In the U.S., more than 174,000 adults pay good money to play hockey at odd hours, where the refs are blind, scorekeepers can’t stay awake, and success is defined by the ability to play alongside your friends for as long as possible. It’s organized hockey in its purest form, unencumbered by money, skill, ambition, fans or advancement.

Photo by Nick Cote

Photo by Nick Cote

“I can’t imagine life without it,” says Steve Albers, 28, who is launching Center Ice Brewing Co., a hockey-themed craft brewery in St. Louis. He echoes a once-provincial refrain that can nowadays be heard coast to coast. Hockey is growing in improbable locales like Arizona and Virginia, while California hosts the country’s largest beer league and is second only to Michigan in terms of adults registered with USA Hockey.

Nicole Warner is one of 17,000 adult women in U.S. beer leagues. “I saw an ad on TV featuring women’s hockey and I thought, I want to play! Or at least try.” At 30, she enrolled in a learn-to-play program, and three years later she is a veteran of nearly 250 league games.

“Hockey people are family to me.” The back nameplate on her jersey reads GOONIE. “And you can’t beat the camaraderie.”

In fact for many, beer league offers a brief respite from the burdens of reality. “When I hit the ice,” says Warner, “I can’t help but be in a great mood, no matter the kind of day I’ve had.”

Beer comes first in the name, but not as much in the game. Governing bodies across North America forbid drunk hockey, and most players will tell you it’s a bad idea. “Before a game, one beer is not enough and three is too many,” says Nick Dean, 33, in a fading Russian accent. “Two is good.”

Alcohol policies differ from rink to rink. The luckiest leagues play in rinks with bars on site, like the Ice Forum in Duluth, Georgia. “After each game, the Breakaway Grill sends a complimentary pitcher to both teams,” says goalie Kevin Mizera, 44. When I sound impressed, he hedges. “It’s probably worked into league fees somehow.”

For many players, the quality held in highest esteem isn’t directly related to hockey or beer. At 85, Ontario’s Jan Loos hits the ice three times a week and holds the Guinness World Record for Oldest Ice Hockey Player—a title he may soon lose to Minnesota’s Mark Sertich, 94.

“Those guys inspire all of us,” says Brian Hill, 63, of Boston. “The goal isn’t to play until you’re too old, it’s to have played on your last day.”

The night after seeing Mohrfeld play, I’m at a crowded Pinthouse Pizza enjoying a Man O’ War IPA when I wonder what drew him back into hockey. “One afternoon he told me he was thinking about playing again,” says Daniel Conley, 29, a brewer at Pinthouse and former youth hockey player himself. “I said, ‘If you do it, I’ll do it.’”

When I press Mohrfeld for specifics, he balks. So I ask why more than half the beers on his tap wall are made by competitors—Hops & Grain, Austin Beerworks, Odell, among others.

“I don’t see it like that,” he says. “I look up there, I see my friends’ beers. Craft brewing isn’t about fame or making tons of money, it’s about making great beer and being part of a community.”

I see an opening. “Kinda like beer league, right?” He and Conley exchange a look. “Not really.”

Oh well. It was worth a shot.

 

ROSS BONANDER

Honey Beer Steamed Mussels with Herb Butter Baguettes

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 pounds mussels
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bottle of your favorite beer
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

herb butter baguettes

  • 1 large ciabatta baguette
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup freshly chopped herbs (I used cilantro, basil, thyme and oregano)
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Keep the mussels refrigerated until you’re ready to use. Once ready, place them in a large bowl of ice cold water. Scrub the outsides of the mussels and remove the string (or “beard”) by using a towel or paper towel to pull it out. Discard any mussels that have opened already. Keep the mussels in the ice water.
  2. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat and add the butter and olive oil. Once it’s melted, stir in the onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Add in the beer and honey, stirring to combine. Add the mussels and toss. Cover the skillet and cook just until the mussels open and the beer is simmering, about 5 to 6 minutes. Garnish with the bacon and cilantro. Stir the mussels well so the broth makes it into the shells. Serve immediately with the baguettes.

herb butter baguettes

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the softened butter on the baguettes. Cover the butter with the assorted herbs (use whatever herbs you like!). Bake until the baguettes and warm and golden and toast, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the flaked salt. Serve immediately.

Crockpot Beer, Brown Sugar & Roasted Garlic Pulled Pot Roast Sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 4 pound beef pot roast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 8 to 10 ounces beer
  • 2 heads roasted garlic
  • your favorite buns or rolls for serving

Instructions:

  1. Sprinkle the pot roast evenly with the salt, pepper, paprika and onion powder and place the meat in the crockpot. Cover the top with the brown sugar, then add the beer to the crockpot and cover it. Cook on low for 8 hours. At some point during the 8 hours or before, roast the garlic. Squeeze out the cloves of garlic and mash them on a cutting board with a fork. Remove the lid of the crockpot and using kitchen tongs or forks, shred and pull apart the beef. At this time, I remove any large chunks of fat or gristle too.
  2. Once the beef is shredded (I tend to mix and shred for 5 full minutes to really incorporate the liquid), add in the mashed roasted garlic. Stir the beef well to evenly distribute the garlic and make sure it is incorporated into the beef. Cover the beef and cook it on low for another 30 minutes.

The Beer Can Turns 80

New Jersey’s Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company churned out the world’s first beer can in 1935, stocking select shelves in Richmond, Va., as a market test. The experiment took off and American drinkers haven’t looked back since, nowadays choosing cans over bottles for the majority of the 22 gallons of beer they each drink per year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Oskar Blues’ new beer, Pinner, shouts out to marijuana via its name, aroma

If you’ve ever popped opened a beer and smelled hints of marijuana, there’s a horticultural reason for that. Just ask Dale Katechis (he of Dale’s Pale Ale fame), who founded Colorado favorite Oskar Blues Brewery in 1997.

“Like a lot of our beers, the hop character and the aroma has always reminded people of cannabis,” Katechis told The Cannabist. “The cannabis plant and flower and the hop flower, they’re both in the family of cannabaceae, and the aromas are very similar.”

Oskar Blues’ latest brew is a shout-out to hops’ not-so-distant cousin. The new year-round brew, Pinner, is a session beer — a 4.9 percent ABV, dry-hopped IPA. For those of you who haven’t read our New Cannabis Lexicon — which gathers 420-friendly terms new and old for the modern cannabis connoisseur — a pinner is a “tiny, thin joint low on marijuana content.”

Get the joke? A low-alcohol session beer named after a low-marijuana joint? Oskar Blues isn’t much for subtlety; Above the can’s Pinner logo is the question: “Can I be blunt?”

“Most of our beer-naming sessions have become these creative sessions after work with a beer,” said Katechis. “When we were growing up, pinners were small joints. So as a smaller ABV beer came into play, and as we associated the aroma and hop characters of cannabis, the name made sense.”

As with another Oskar Blues dry-hopped beer, imperial porter G’Knight — which is quite a bit stronger than Pinner at 8.7 percent ABV — Katechis wanted something specific out of his new brew.

“It should hit you right in the face, as soon as you smell the beer,” Katechis said. “It was almost unanimous when you gave G’Night to someone and they said, ‘Wow, that smells like marijuana.’ We’ve enjoyed that because we like the smell of marijuana. Having a beer with that very orange-y, citrus aroma that has been called ‘kind bud,’ we enjoy it — and it resonates with our customers, who enjoy it as well.”

The idea behind the beer was simple: “We wanted to create a beer, an IPA that had a great deal of aroma, that’s reminiscent of a lot of our other hoppy beers and aromas but that’s also sessionable, with the lower alcohol so you could have more than one or two.

“Craft beer historically has been heavier bodied beer, and heavier body means more malt, and more malt means more sugar, and more sugar means more alcohol. The idea for folks like myself who don’t necessarily drink to get drunk, you like to enjoy a couple beers and enjoy all of the things that surround sharing a beer with someone, and I feel like it’s an important part of society and it’s a big part of business and it’s a relaxant — and, in moderation, it has a very strong place in society.”

While Pinner is already on sale in liquor stores in Colorado and North Carolina, where Oskar Blues has breweries, it will be available in the 41 states in which the brewery sells beer on March 1. While recreational marijuana sales are currently legal only in Colorado and Washington, Katechis is sure beer drinkers in other states will be in on the joke.

“Whether you perceive (legalization) to be fortunate or unfortunate, it’s a part of Colorado culture for sure,” said Katechis, “and being a Colorado company, it’s alive and well here. As with alcohol, when taken in moderation there’s a reason that (pot is) legal.”

Steak and Beer Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 pounds sirloin steak, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • One 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • One 4.5-ounce can chopped mile green chiles, squeezed dry
  • One 12-ounce bottle of beer
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • for serving, as desired: sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions etc.

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the steak, onions and garlic, and saute for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the meat is lightly browned and the onions are just tender. Do not overcook.
  2. Scrape the contents of the skillet into your slow cooker. Add the rest of the chili ingredients (except serving ingredients, of course), and stir to combine. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours.
  3. Scoop into bowls and serve with desired fixings.

MIIR VACUUM INSULATED THREADLESS HOWLER

If you’re ready to take your beer connoisseur status to the next level, you’re gonna need a growler. And these aren’t the kind of things you wanna be buying every few months, so investing in a quality container is a paramount goal. The 32 oz. Howler from Seattle-based MiiR could fit the bill nicely.

MiiR growlers feature the company’s double wall vacuum insulation technology which promises to keep your cold liquids cold for more than 24 hours and your hot stuff hot for an even 12. The stainless steel product is also threadless, which MiiR says results in a much better way to close the growler and keep it sealed, preventing leaks and beer residue-related crud from forming. And a nice touch is that the company says each Howler purchase will provide clean water to one person in need.

 

The Truth About the Post-Workout Beer

If you exercise, chances are you also drink. I know this because according to a new study from Northwestern Medicine, people tend to drink more alcohol on the days they’ve exercised. Especially beer. It could be because we reward ourselves with a post-run brewski, or because we’ve used up all of our willpower on exercise, so we have none left to deny ourselves that drink or two. Whatever the reason, if you’re drinking thinking that it’ll help you sleep, relax your muscles, numb the pain, or increase blood flow to help you recover faster, as they say in AA, that’s just stinkin’ thinkin’.

“It’s detrimental to drink alcohol after any type of exercise or workout,” says Professor Matthew Barnes of New Zealand’s Massey University School of Sport and Medicine. “I’ve never really seen anything that says it’s useful as far as recovery.”

He’s also never seen anything that says alcohol is useful for comptetion. Barnes’ most recent study on the impact of alcohol on sports performance and recovery in men concluded that “the consumption of even low doses of alcohol prior to athletic endeavour should be discouraged due to the ergolytic effects of alcohol on endurance performance.” Ergolytic meaning performance impairing. These effects, the study’s authors wrote, “are likely to inhibit recovery and adaptation to exercise.”

How does alcohol screw you up? Let us count the ways. Because it’s a diuretic, you’ll urinate more. “That leads to dehydration,” says Barnes, “and the result is detrimental effects on muscular contraction.” Every gram of alcohol you ingest increases urine flow by about two teaspoons. To put that in perspective, a 12-ounce can of beer contains about 14 grams of alcohol. That’s an extra half-cup of pee.

Alcohol also interferes with how your body produces energy. Pushing all that liquor into your liver leaves you with less glucose, the sugar needed to power your muscles. If an athlete runs out of it, they hit that proverbial wall “and most likely won’t finish the race,” Barnes says.

As for fixing your injuries, “if you consume alcohol, probably any amount, it’ll increase blood flow to [injured areas], because it’s a reasonably good vasodilator,” explains Barnes. But that’s not necessarily a good thing—it could make an injury bleed or swell even more, causing more pain. The body’s regulatory system functions quite well without the alcohol, Barnes says.

Alcohol can also poison muscle fibers. Beer, in particular, affects the fast-twitch anaerobic fibers by inhibiting an enzyme that helps fuel the muscle. When that happens, the fibers don’t adapt like they should for up to three days. The result: a longer recovery period.

As for that pain you say a glass of pinot erases? “Alcohol makes you feel less pain because of the effects on the nerve endings,” says Barnes. “So you can mask that pain with alcohol.” Which may not be as helpful as it sounds. “The pain’s there for a reason,” adds Barnes. “Ignoring it’s probably not a better approach.”

Athletes in particular seem to think that after a grueling game or an extreme workout, alcohol will help them relax and sleep better. “But it actually disrupts people’s sleep pattern,” says Barnes. “They don’t get a restful night’s sleep. And you need a restful sleep. That’s when growth hormones are released in your body, during the night.”

Finally, there’s the drunken food choices. One athlete Barnes studied had only three carrots the entire day after drinking, while another went through seven meat pies. “Athletes’ diets tend to go out the window,” Barnes says. “Alcohol throws them completely out of sync. They go for convenience.” That inadequate or improper fueling can lead to poor performance.

If you still think a post-race beer isn’t a bad idea, consider this: alcohol interferes with your muscles’ post-workout rebuilding process by reducing protein synthesis. “So not only does alcohol interfere with recovery of muscle damage and injury,” says Barnes, “it also reduces the processes responsible for building muscle.” There is a tiny silver lining: while not beneficial, a few glasses of alcohol comsumedafter a solid recovery meal and drink won’t necessarily cancel out all of the work you just did.

So opt for water or a sports drink right after a competition. “The key is to regain the weight loss, to get back to that pre-exercise weight,” says Barnes. As for a post-race meal, Barnes suggests something with about 20g of protein (enough to optimize protein synthesis post-exercise) and around 50g of carbs (usually high glycemic index, simple carbs to speed up glycogen synthesis), like a chicken sandwich or a baked potato and tuna. Then, if you must, you can have some alcohol.

“Other than the social side of it, I can’t see a benefit to alcohol at all, really,” Barnes says. “If you’re an athlete and you’re drinking alcohol, you’re just setting yourself up for failure.”