In the age of macro brands buying up craft breweries, is the next domino to fall Boston Beer Co.?
The craft pioneer has struggled so mightily recently that rumors abound of a buy out from a bigger company. Boston Beer’s stock even experienced a rare upswing amid speculation that a takeover by Molson Coors was increasingly inevitable.
It’s a sign of how far and fragmented the craft category has become. Just a decade ago, Sam Adams was considered craft beer, and times were booming for the company founded by category pioneer Jim Koch.
But Boston Beer has become a victim of its own success. The movement it helped launch has surpassed the company. Consumers now have multiple thousands of craft beers to chose from, including options from breweries smaller and more local than Boston Beer.
Hence the company’s recent struggles. Sam Adams Boston Lager, the nation’s top-selling craft beer, was down 10.3% in sales in 2016, according to the Beverage Information Group, while Rebel IPA slipped 14.9%.
Koch has adamantly maintained that he prefers to turn around the company rather than sell. And while some successful newer releases have helped stem the tide, the company’s core beer products continue to lag. Meanwhile, Boston Beer is still searching for its next CEO.
Difficult times indeed for one of the companies that helped jumpstart the modern craft category.
Kyle Swartz is managing editor of Beverage Dynamics magazine. Reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @kswartzz. Read his recent piece 10 Alcohol Trends to Watch in 2017-18.