When searching for beer on line, Amazon has more than 101 pages of books listed under the beer category. The majority of these beer books are about styles, bars, countries, or cities and their beer culture or history. There have been, however, a few beer books published offering more than simply beer styles.
There are also a small number of beer books written by disgruntled former owners or key executives that bash their previous companies. You may remember some of these: Silver Bullets: A Soldier’s Story of How Coors Bombed in the Beer Wars or Beer Blast, by Philip Van Munching; or the sad story of Stroh’s, Beer Money: A Memory of Privilege and Loss. These are just a few of the compilation of titles available.
Several books are very interesting and well written, including: Bitter Brew, the inside story of how InBev acquired AB. There are, however, two publications that stand alone in assisting the reader in understanding just how the beer industry wound up in its current positon. Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer by Maureen Ogle, is an outstanding read of the history of beer in the U.S. In fact, Ogle has recently published an update focusing on the rise of crafts over the last 20 years.
Another well written book and recently published book, The Beer Monopoly by Ina Verstl and Ernst Faltermeier, focuses on four brewing companies: ABI, SABMiller, Heineken, and Carlsberg. The book details how each company came into existence and how their unique corporates cultures evolved. The authors examine the respective business models of each company, thus giving the relevant indicators explaining each company’s survival.
As one nears the end of The Beer Monopoly, the question arises as to the future of the industry. While these four companies achieved the success they have today brewery acquisition, one has to wonder how future growth will be attained. The question becomes: what beer companies are still remaining to be purchased?
The Chinese and Russian beer industries did not unfold as major markets, as so many had predicted. Industry pundits claim a marriage between Heineken and MolsonCoors makes the most sense. Now that SAB is gone, Heineken is the distant second to ABI in size, and this marriage would narrow that gap.
There are some very good German breweries that are still family owned, which could come into play. Krombacher, at over five million hectoliters, would be one to watch. Other German beers include Veltins and Warsteiner. On this side of the pond, there is Moosehead in Canada, which is still independently owned.
That said the large American crafts could very well become the next target. Boston, Sierra Nevada and even New Belgium come to mind as more and more the industry is seeing these highly successful crafts struggle to grow. The belief that the three remaining major players are limited in their ability to expand more, globally, makes these breweries much more attractive, thus driving up their value. Lagunitas, Goose Island, Ballast Point and others have taken advantage of this opportunity.
In upcoming posts, we will look at how these two writers, Verstl and Faltermeier, positioned each brewery, and have given insights into what the future of the beer industry holds.
Congratulations, I knew the record would stand until it was broken…..
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