Monday, 7 September 2009

American giant moves in to craft beer

A sign that craft beer is the growing sector of the American beer market comes with the news that MillerCoors is to invest in its Leinenkugel brand. Leinenkugel is based in Chippewa Falls in Wisconsin. It has German immigrant origins and dates from the 19th century. It was a leading independent brewery until it was bought by MillerCoors, the second biggest brewer in the U.S.
MillerCoors is a merger between the two breweries. Confusingly, Coors oeprates in Canada as MolsonCoors and in Britain is still known simply as Coors.
Jake Leinenkugel, head of the Wisconsin brewery, said MillerCoors has invested around $10 million in the past seven years: "That's incredible for a brewery of our size."
The investment in both brewing capacity and marketing is aimed at increasing the company's share of the American beer market, which is led by the Brazilian-Belgian conglomerate AB InBev. The formation of Miller and Coors was driven by the need to cut into Anheuser Busch's market share: AB owns the biggest beer brands in the U.S., Budweiser and Bud Light.
Leinenkugel represents part of MillerCoors' efforts to break into the craft beer market. This makes up just 3% of the total Aemrican beer market but represents an important element of the MillerCoors portfolio.
"The fastest growing part of the beer business today is the top end -- the craft end," MillerCoors chief executive Leo Kiely said. "They are the most expensive brands on the shelf but value is determined in a different way."
In Chippewa Falls, the brewery has the capacity to double brewing but needs additional fermentation vessels.
MillerCoors has already moved into craft brewing with the Coors' Belgian-style wheat beer, Blue Moon. This is now the second biggest-selling craft beer in the U.S. and featured in President Obama's recent "beer summit" in the White House.


Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

Well its no longer a craft beer anymore.

7 September 2009 at 12:05  
Anonymous PeepTheSot said...

"Well its no longer a craft beer anymore."

I don't see why not. The craft is in the making, not the size of the brewery or in this case, backing or acquisition by a larger company.
Fact is, some of the larger brewers in the states are beginning to make some very well crafted beers indeed, and are as much a "craft" product as anything made by a smaller brewer. There is indeed much good small-brewery "craft" product for sale in the states...but there is also quite a bit of product in that category that is clearly sub-par. Smaller is decidedly not _always_ better.

8 September 2009 at 22:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Roger, the UK business is now known as MolsonCoors (UK)

9 September 2009 at 13:09  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

"An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional"

Not my words see.

9 September 2009 at 17:42  
Blogger Sam said...

Your story makes it sound like Miller is trying to "catch up" to craft and only started working on Leinenkugel after Blue Moon because of Blue Moon's success. But Blue Moon wasn't launched until 1995, 7 YEARS AFTER Miller purchased Leinenkugel's long before BM was even considered successful. They've owned Leinie's for TWO DECADES (and you're just reporting on it like it's a new move, good job). They've brewed bocks, fruit beers, ambers, shandies. In 2006 they did a special edition Imperial IPA, and a Russian Imperial Stout in 2007 (Praised by Charlie Papazian as good example of big guys getting "craft" right) All this before the merger with Coors. Since buying Leinie's, Miller has invested in them several times, i.e. bought and expanded production to the 10th Street Brewery in Milwaukee, widen distribution, etc. It's not a neglected brand (like say Henry Weinhard's the other craft they bought in the 90s), and has had a long following in Wisconsin and the surrounding midwest.

This yet another example of you not doing the simple internet research to get the REAL facts. You'll just ignore anything so that you can slam big breweries (industry). Poor form Roger, poor journalism.

As to the comments about what is "craft" (which people here are equating with "good") beer, please refer to Charlie's comments in the link above and read back through archives on Appellation Beer and Seen Through a Glass for a good, balanced discussion on the topic.

10 September 2009 at 06:20  

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