Nielsen numbers on the beer industry, ending May 7th, show beer case sales down once again to -1.3%. While year-to-date numbers still are positive, it is too early to say if these recent numbers will continue or not. No doubt one of the biggest contributors to the industries’ slow and negative growth in recent years, has been the lack of growth in the US economy. It is simple, economic growth translates to jobs and sales.
Job creation was a key reason prohibition was repealed. During the depression, unemployment was around 25% and breweries lobbied Washington with job creation by repealing the 19th amendment. The repeal worked and thousands of people obtained jobs at breweries, wholesalers and retailers. It was a win-win for everyone.
The subsequent years brought growth and success for beer, and in the 1970s, the NBWA began a publicity campaign explaining the economic impact of the beer industry and what it meant to the US economy. Smart.
It is not often these days that the industry receives good news, even though the craft segment has brought a new enthusiasm to the industry. It is true that crafts have brought a new excitement to beer, but there are still negative issues. The industry needs something that it can build on and unite all parties.
At the Craft Brewers Conference it was announced that The Smithsonian and the CBC were going to work together to add crafts to their upcoming exhibition on beer. They have entitled the exhibition BEERology: Craft, Culture, and Civilization. It is a three-year initiative to collect, document and preserve the history of brewing, craft brewers and the beer industry and to explore how the beverage industry and brewing beer connect to larger themes in American history. BEERology is made possible in part through a donation from the Brewers Association.
The Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition service is partnering with the San Diego Museum of Man and will travel to museums across the country beginning in the summer of 2017 with over 60 archaeological artifacts from across the globe, all relating to beer or fermented beverages. The exhibit also explains the contemporary craft beer industry and how it experiments with ancient styles, ingredients, or methods. The schedule to the cities has yet to be announced, but one should expect to see record attendance at each city.
To help the Smithsonian, there has been talk of the museum enlisting the industries’ assistance. Perhaps both the BA and the NBWA should get behind this worthy project. It has been suggested that the Smithsonian create an advisory board of industry brewers who can advise and promote this exhibition. The museums that host this exhibition should serve, to all legal visitors, beer that is locally and regionally brewed, as well well as promote local breweries on site with their management and sales teams.
It is not often that the beer industry can get behind a special program that not only focuses on the beer culture, but will promote it as well. This will help everyone in the industry. Let’s all get behind The Smithsonian with this project.
The art of teaching is of assisting discovery…