Big Beer, Micro-Breweries, Monopoly and Innovation

Great article… Harvard Business Review : Big Beer, A Moral Market, and Innovation

On the surface, America’s market for beer has never looked healthier. Where fewer than a hundred companies brewed a generation ago, we can now count more than 2,000, producing a mind-boggling variety of beers. Yet just below this drinker’s paradise we find a market that has never been more concentrated. Two giants — Anheuser-Busch Inbev and MillerCoors — control some 90 percent of production… Read more here –

summer honey aleHaving recently been over to Portland, Oregon I have witnessed first-hand the great innovation and passion invested in the local brewing market. Many a micro-brewery is based within a local restaurant/bar or affiliated with one and branded up as a place in which you can grab some good food and dabble with a wee tipple of what ever beer takes your fancy.

My wife and I looked forward every evening going out to a new-found location and experiencing not only the beer but the atmosphere derived from the branding of the brewery which generally complimented the beer so well. Even the staff were enthused with the beer they had on offer, recommending specific beers based on their own tastes or making suggestions based on they type of beers you have tried before. (Summer Honey Ale was my wife’s favorite)

Take the UK on the other hand, a few major internationals fight for dominance in our local market. Can you really tell the difference between the Aussie nectar and the one that is Probably the best beer in the World? Walk into any pub across the country and you can bet your bottom dollar that one of these two will be on offer. Most pubs are tied here in the UK also, which means that there is little competition when it comes to price and even less emphasis on originality.  However, in recent years we have seen the Scottish independent beer market take off, just take Brewdog as a prime example; their goal is simply to make beer that does not conform, does not appease every taste bud and is made how they see fit, not what the market perhaps appears to dictate. brewdog-beerI know of some who simply don’t like it,but don’t blame them for trying. The innovation they are demonstrating should be applauded, with disruptive, sometimes contentious advertising which could be seen as counter-intuitive but gets them noticed that’s for sure along with their new crowd funded brewing plant in Ellon. Let us hope that the beer industry demonstrated over in the US and here in the UK can be an example of local entrepreneurship and innovation which can be replicated in other retail sectors, giving a boost to the economy and showing we are not destined to endure a monopoly environment.


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