Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 12-pack cans help craft take ~12% dollar share in supermarkets

sierra nevada pale ale 12-pack crop

The Brewers Association held a conference call on Thursday with Symphony IRI Group’s Dan Wandel presenting beer sales statistics for the year 2012. Symphony IRI tracks scan data in the off-premise channels like supermarkets, Wal-Mart – type chains, convenience stores, etc. Below is a high-level summary of what we learned yesterday (sorry, no on-premise stats here!).

Note: the Symphony IRI data includes Widmer Brothers, Redhook, Goose Island and others in its ‘craft’ data whereas the Brewers Association does not so keep that in mind as you read along…


In Symphony IRI’s “multi-outlet universe” (basically all retail channels except convenience), the beer segment grew at a low-to-mid digit clip for the first time since 2009 with convenience and liquor store sales growth outpacing that of supermarkets. Domestic super premiums like Bud Light Platinum paced the category with craft beer the second-highest growth segment.

Craft dollar sales grew 15% and case sales grew 11.4% versus a year ago. Demonstrating even higher growth in convenience where there is a smaller sales base, when that channel is factored in, those numbers change to 16.5% and 12.5%.


Despite improved growth trends, the beer segment is still losing share to spirits. To illustrate, Wandel shared Q4 numbers showing beer losing nearly two share points since 2009, down to 43.5, in the alcoholic beverage category.

Craft share of beer, however, has increased by four points to nearly 14% since 2009 in what Wandel called “Craft’s biggest selling season.” It is a huge season for seasonals with pumpkin ales, holiday ales and other winter beers.

Craft dollar sales grew double-digits again with a sales velocity increase for a fourth consecutive year. The segment gained over a full share point in 2012 and now has nearly a 12% share of total beer dollar sales.


A-B InBev and MillerCoors have nearly two-thirds of dollar market share at $3.4 billion and $2.2 billion respectively.

Boston Beer sales increased 14% to $217 million, passing that of Diageo USA (Guinness) to move into 5th place overall behind Crown (Corona) at $641 million and Heineken at $531 million. Yuengling’s beer sales increased 19%, moving it into the top 10 vendors at #8. (These numbers do not include alc. bev. pouches).

Boston Beer “craft” sales (presumably excluding Twisted Tea and Angry Orchard?) totaled $181 million though the company lost nearly 2 share points of the craft category. Sierra Nevada had the strongest year among the top several players with 16% growth up to $107 million. Lagunitas had the biggest share gain at 0.6 with 61% sales growth to $21 million.


Bud Light is still a runaway favorite at #1 with $1.2 billion in dollar sales and 14% dollar share. Behind it are Coors Light, Miller Lite, Budweiser and Corona (Extra). Michelob Ultra Light jumped 2 spots to #6 with a 6% sales increase. Modelo Especial had a huge year as the #1 momentum brand with 25% growth and moved into the top 15.

Bud Light Platinum and Bud Light Lime-a-Rita helped drive new sales dollars for ABI. In 2011, the company sold almost $30 million on new products but in 2012, it did almost $160 million. Platinum sold to the tune of almost $100 million, making it unofficially the biggest product launch in years in beer.


Blue Moon Belgian White may be approaching its ceiling in supers with 5% dollar sales growth to $93 million to lead the domestic specialty segment (and craft, for that matter). Blue Moon Seasonal actually dipped 8.5% to #4 though Blue Moon Variety Pack jumped 42.5% to #5.

Shock Top sales grew 36% to $42 million taking the #2 spot. Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy is driving the Seasonal portfolio which is the lone bright spot for that brand family. It increased 52% to #3.


There are now 484 vendors in supermarkets vs. 347 in 2009. Karbach Brewing was the top new craft vendor at $640k in sales with Devils Backbone close behind at $624k.

Bottle sales now top $1 billion in supers.

Can sales skyrocketed 168% up to $32.6 million, a 3.1 share of craft dollar sales. 90 craft vendors are now selling 240 can SKUs. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 12-packs of 12 oz. cans stole the show as the year’s top new craft package with $5.2 million in sales. It now ranks as the top can package. Samuel Adams is, no doubt, aware of that with its forthcoming 12-pack of 12 oz. Boston Lager cans.

Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA was the new brand of the year among crafts with $2.6 million in sales and limited markets. Pyramid Outburst was close behind it and IPAs, again, accounted for most common style among newcoming beers.


Craft Seasonal retained the top spot at $205 million in sales (20 share) with 13% growth. IPAs are close behind at $187 million after a year of 40% growth. IPA will be the #1 craft style by year’s end. Variety packs also grew double-digits.

There were 492 craft IPA brands tracked last year, up from 319 in 2011.


Cider grew 84.5% across all channels off of one of the category’s smallest bases at less than 0.5 share. Symphony IRI tracked cider 79 brands at the end of 2011 and 152 brands at the end of 2012 so there was major interest in this category over the past year.


Dollar sales growth across all channels for the overall beer category was 2.8% in January though there have been some rumblings (outside of this presentation) that February was a down month so we will see how things shape up through the rest of the quarter. The first two weeks of February (Super Bowl timeframe) show softening growth across the category.

Craft continues to be strong with 16.2% dollar sales growth in January to $110 million across all channels. Dollar share finished out the four-week period at 5.9% across all channels and 12.9% in supers.

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2 thoughts on “Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 12-pack cans help craft take ~12% dollar share in supermarkets

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