Global hop marketA local alternative to mass beer suggested by independent brewers has been successful and is now altering the global market. Beer is becoming more diversified, so transnational companies have to accept the new game rules and to switch focus to young and fast growing markets. All these processes increased the demand for aroma and bitter hop as well as their acreage expansion on two continents. However now there appeared a downward trend of alcohol consumption in the world, so even special sorts can soon turn to be sufficient. In this connection the dynamic American hop market is already facing some problems. EU hop producers have become more cautious, they are not racing to exceed the demand and look forward with more confidence, judging by the contract terms.
Hop Market in RussiaGermany still dominates the Russian market, yet over the recent two years one has been able observe a continuous success of Czech hop suppliers. Their expansion and growing popularity of hops from the United States became the drivers of supplies growth in 2016 despite the preceding modest harvest crop in the EU, as well as the factor of relative stability in 2017. In this connection, in 2017, the ratio of the varieties continued to shift towards the aroma ones, and the supplies of Magnum hop and other alpha varieties were reduced. However, the import of bitter hop pellets is partially replaced by extracts, especially from the major beer manufacturers. Total volumes of alpha acid supplies, according to our estimation, decreased by approximately 5% and returned to the level of 2015. Barth Haas Group continues dominating the hop products market; HVG also increased its weight. At the same time, Morris Hanbury significantly reduced the supplies in 2017.
10+1 trends of Russian beer market 2015-2017Despite of the moderately negative prognoses for 2017, the beer market can be stabilized soon. Yet the years of the negative dynamics have resulted in marketing being limited just to “optimization” and the art of balancing between price and volumes. Bigger supermarkets share means stronger trade marketing. These processes are connected to the majority of the described trends. At the same time, the federal brands inflation leads to searching for new tastes, sales channels and contact formats that expand the product range and diversify the beer market, but do not imply a substantial volume increase. Let us enumerate and further discuss the ten trends of the beer market we can see in 2015-2017 as well as the major event of 2017.
Beer market of Ukraine 2017In the first half of 2017, the Ukrainian beer market goes on decreasing slowly. Yet, the companies manage to compensate their lost volumes by raising prices and improving the sales structures. This results in the mid price market segment reduction while the sales of premium brands are rising. These processes are connected to position strengthening of companies Carlsberg Group and Oasis and the market share reduction of Obolon. Most of the novelties by the market leaders belong to craft or hard lemon categories.
Beer market of Russia 2016: PET goes to draftThe beer market of Russia was warmed up by the hot summer, but the preparation for large volume PET prohibition has already impacted it negatively. The year was successful for Efes, MBC and regional producers; Carlsberg’s positions were virtually stable but AB InBev and Heineken lost a part of market share having focused on the sales profitability. The dynamics of big brands was determined by how much the companies were willing to keep the prices down or by their promotional activity. In this context the economy segment of the beer market and sales of inexpensive draft beer were increasing. The premium segment started shrinking due to license brands migrating to the mainstream segment.
Drinkability in ‘session’
In the United States, it’s becoming acceptable to refer to beers with as much as 4.5 or 5 percent ABV as sessionable beers, meaning you can drink a few in a drinking session. Whatever you call them, it’s all right with me, because most of the attention on craft beer over the past several years has gone to beers with higher ABVs - brews like Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA (9 percent), Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (9.6 percent), Stone’s Double Bastard (11.2 percent), and Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout (13 percent). Great beers, yes. But one of those and you could be done for the night. Not exactly ideal for parties, gatherings, or a hot July afternoon by the pool.
Boston’s big two local brewers - Sam Adams and Harpoon - have built their businesses on beers with ABVs around 5 percent, and it’s heartening to see others following suit. My favorite new sessionable beer is Spring Hop Ale (5 percent), from Mayflower Brewing Co. in Plymouth, but unfortunately it’s available only in early spring. Another local brewer - Notch, which brews in both Ipswich and Kennebunk, Maine - makes nothing but beers under 4.5 percent ABV. Even Stone, the California brewer that specializes in in-your-face, hoppy, high-alcohol beers, makes an excellent 4.4 percent ABV beer - Levitation, a red ale - just to prove it can.
Lower-alcohol ales are what separate excellent brewers from fair ones: A mediocre beer can be disguised by its high alcohol content. A lousy 5 percent beer reveals itself. Here are some great locally made “sessionable’’ beers:
Narragansett Summer Ale I don’t have any romantic notions of Narragansett Brewery, despite the fact that I grew up in Rhode Island and my grandparents lived half a mile from the old brewery, which closed in 1981. Heck, I even lived in the town of Narragansett for a few years. But listen: ’Gansett was not good beer. (How do I know? My father drank it. He also drank Busch and Schlitz.)
The new Narragansett is not your (or my) grandfather’s ’Gansett, though. Mark Hellendrung, the former Nantucket Nectars president who revived the Narragansett name, contracts out the brewing, and everyone involved is doing a bang-up job.
The company keeps rolling out new beers - Fest (a marzen), Porter, Bock, and now Summer Ale (a pale wheat) - and they’re all excellent. The Summer Ale is a perfect hot-day quencher, with enough body to keep a serious beer drinker satisfied but a low-enough ABV (4.2 percent) to keep you from falling asleep in your chaise lounge.
I poured my 16-ounce “tallboy’’ can into a pint glass and got a gigantic pillow of a head. Lemony and earthy, it was dry on the front and slightly sweet at the finish - crisp, light, and totally refreshing. You’re going to have to change your outdated opinion of ’Gansett.
Haverhill Haver Ale Haverhill Brewery, which also operates the Tap in Haverhill, deserves wider attention. The folks there know how to brew good beers without busting the bank on alcohol content. Perhaps their greatest feat is brewing an excellent IPA, Leatherlips, that is only 5 percent ABV - a huge accomplishment in the age of 7 percent IPAs. It doesn’t skimp on the hops, either.
Haver Ale, a cream ale that goes down nicely on a hot day, is only 4.6 percent ABV. The cream ale is something of a hybrid style. A cousin of the American lager, it is fermented warm like an ale but then cold-lagered (stored) and filtered, all of which gives it a smooth, dry character.
Golden with lots of bubbles rising quickly to a small but foamy head, Haver Ale gives off a mildly fruity and grainy aroma. Light and refreshing, this is a more robust than the usual cream ales, which are often yellow or straw-colored. “Designed for the discerning,’’ it says on the label. Hardly a groundbreaking beer, Haver Ale is nevertheless a strong rendition of its style.
Samuel Adams Rustic Saison Rustic Saison is a light, pale Belgian-style beer with notes of bananas and cloves (thanks to that distinctive Belgian yeast) and a spicy finish. Unfortunately, the only way to get your hands on a bottle of Rustic Saison is to buy this year’s Samuel Adams Summer Styles variety pack, whose two best beers are the saison and East-West Kolsch.
Rustic Saison is more in line with the original saisons, or farmhouse ales, that were brewed centuries ago in Belgium to refresh field workers (since drinking water could prove fatal). These days we have become accustomed to saisons that are anywhere from 6 to 8 percent alcohol by volume, but the original saisons were only 3 to 4 percent.
At 4.35 percent ABV, Sam Adams’s Rustic Saison adheres more closely to the original intent. It’s a perfect thirst-quencher for working in your own fields, whether that means weeding your tomato plants or mowing your lawn.
12 Jul. 2011