The Brew-hahaIf recent numbers are predicting future times, we’re in the midst of a beer boom. According to a recent Nielsen study, last year, beer sales increased by 5 million cases between the end of February and the beginning of September. But in the same period of 2011, sales had decreased by 1.7 million cases.
Jeff Slankard, the Wine and Beer Director for Barons Market says, “Taste, variety and packaging all drive consumer’s choices.” And they’re certainly driving sales. Craft brews hit the market in a big way, adding new tastes and more variety to the beer industry. In the summer of 2012, 582 new beer brands launched in the market, according to Nielsen, like Stone Brewing Company’s Pillow Mint at the Ritz or Rouge’s Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ale. And craft breweries aren’t the only ones hoping to tempt consumer’s taste buds; domestic brewers are turning to unusual flavors and adding variety to their lineup. Bud Light Lime anyone?
Social changes are also affecting sales. In the past, beer was the stereotypical drink of men and college students. Now Gary Monterosso, author of Artisan Beer and regular guest on the History Channel’s “The Epic History of Everyday Things,” is noticing a change – women. “Beer drinking is no longer a man’s domain,” he says, noting he has seen an increase of female patrons at beer festivals. And Nielsen found more people leaving the wine and spirits aisle in favor of the beer aisle. According to the study, almost half of customers new to beer in the past six months came from buying wine and spirits exclusively.
Whatever the cause, strong sales are the result – over 98 billion in sales in the U.S. in 2011, according to the industry group The Beer Institute. Billions in sales and growing popularity might lead some brewers or retailers to up their prices. Let’s hope not, but we might as well take a proactive stance and start saving money on the beer we buy. 10 Most Expensive Beers in Baseball
Comparison Shop Online
Possibly the best way to beat prices – shop sales. While you could check the weekly print ads (they come out on Wednesday and Sundays), you could also let a website do the work for you. Enter: SaveonBrew.com. The site has a simple setup: you enter your zip code and a search radius and you get a list of advertised beer sales in your area. And the savings can be big. “Advertised deals are about 25% below list price,” says SaveonBrew.com founder Mark Davidson. Davidson says there will be an Android and iPhone app soon. Plus, Davidson is rolling out something he calls “technology at its most compassionate”: a customized email alert system that tells you when your favorites go on sale.
Craft beers get expensive. If you like to try new brands, but you’re picky about flavor, look for stores selling singles. You’ll save money buying a single ‘tester’ beer before committing to a six or 12-pack. For example, Merwin’s Liquors in Minnesota sells 12-packs of Abita Purple Haze for $38.24. Not a bad deal, but if you’re not sure you like Purple Haze, you’re better off buying a single for $1.77. If you don’t like the taste, you’re not out another $36.47.
Join a Beer Club
Drugstores and grocery stores want to reward you for customer loyalty; now, so do bars and specialty liquor shops. Several shops offer their own customer reward card. Sign up is free and you’ll earn points that eventually accumulate into discounts. For example, Figley’s Brew Works’ Mug Club in Pennsylvania gets you 10 % off every tenth visit and 25 percent off every 25th visit. The Blind Murphy Craft Beer Market in Georgia gives you a $5 coupon for every $150 you spend. And at The Brass Tap in Florida and Texas, you’ll earn one point that adds up to reward cards for every beer you buy. Reward cards start at $10 for 50 points and go up to $200 for 300 points.
Drink at Home
Buying bottled and canned beer to drink at home is cheaper than frequenting bars. Take one of the biggest U.S. drinking holidays: St. Patrick’s Day. Angie Picardo at NerdWallet says, “Consumers spend 1.8 times more drinking at a bar than they do at home” on St. Paddy’s.
NerdWallet also analyzed the consumer price index for beer in December 2012. They found, “A pint at home costs $2.60 compared to $4.68 per pint at a bar,” according to Picardo. Following the math, if you drink six pints a week, you’d spend $112.32 a month drinking at a bar and only $62.40 drinking at home – a savings of $49.42 a month.
Shop Ads Before Bulk
Bulk stores can have great prices on big quantities of beer, but they may not beat sale prices at grocery stores and national chains. For example, the Sam’s Club in New Orleans sells 24-packs of Heineken for $29.96, or $1.25 each. A Winn-Dixie grocery store in the same area recently ran a 12-pack of Heineken on sale for $13.49, or $1.12 each. Factor in $40 for an annual Advantage Membership and that 24-pack really isn’t a good deal.