Best-Selling American Craft Beers

Last week, I began what will be a short series of posts on a presentation Dan Wandel made for SymphonyIRI that looked at sales figures and trends for craft beer sold at supermarkets. In that post we looked at the best-selling styles; today we look at best-selling brands.

As with last week, I've reworked the data a bit to take out some of the best-selling SKUs tracked by SymphonyIRI: Sam Adams Seasonal (No. 3), Sam Adams Variety Pack (No. 5), Sierra Nevada Seasonal (No. 9) and New Belgium Seasonal (No. 12). (In the case of seasonals, several beers share the same SKU and are sold at different times of the year; variety packs, obviously, include more than one beer.) The remaining eleven account for 28.5% of all the beer tracked by SymphonyIRI--a sizable piece of the pie given that the company tracks 253 IPAs alone. In fact, the top four account for nearly 20% of all sales.

Here are the top ten, and the percentages indicate the total proportion of the entire craft segment that beer controls. The eleventh beer is Magic Hat's Number 9, at 1%.

When I looked at this list, my eye was attracted to Sierra Nevada's Torpedo--and then I realized something about this list. Only Torpedo is a recent brand. In fact, the next newest beer is Sam Adams Light, released a decade ago.
Sierra Nevada Pale (1980)
Sam Adams Boston Lager (1984)
New Belgium Fat Tire (1991)
Shiner Bock (1913)
Widmer Hefeweizen (1985)
Sierra Nevada Torpedo (2009, bottle)
Sam Adams Light (2001)
Redhook IPA (1995)
Kona Longboard Lager (1998)
Deschutes Mirror Pond (1992ish)

Clearly, it helps to have a jump on things. To see just how consistent these beers have been, have a look at Stan Hieronymus' report from four years back. And yet, despite this consistency, it's not like there's no movement. Not all these beers are headed in the same direction or at the same rate. (And no, I have no idea if these reflect year-to-year variation or are indicative of larger trends or volatility.)
Sierra Nevada Pale_______0.9%
Sam Adams Boston Lager___0.0%
New Belgium Fat Tire____-4.5%
Shiner Bock_____++++++__11.1%
Widmer Hefeweizen_______-9.5%
Sierra Nevada Torpedo___59.2%
Sam Adams Light________-15.1%
Redhook IPA______________4.5%
Kona Longboard Lager____45.5%
Deschutes Mirror Pond____3.5%
In some ways, it's easy to overthink these stats, though. Deschutes is the fifth largest craft brewery, but only cracks the list at number ten. What does this tell us? That Deschutes' production includes a pretty diverse line of beers that sell well. Is that good or bad? Probably neither, but interesting. By contrast, New Belgium has a huge tent pole beer in Fat Tire.

More to come.