Canadian beer consumption and brewing

Wheat Beers

Canadians coast to coast to coast are enthusiastic beer drinkers averaging 98.5 litres per annum.

The Czechs rank first with132 (down for 152 litres only a few years ago), and followed by Germans with 107, Austrians 106, Irish 104, Australia 98.1, Estonia 91, Lithuania 86, Poland 84 Venezuela, Slovenia, and Finland each 83, Belgians and Croatians 78.

While only two decades ago the whole Canadian market was supplied by two major breweries (J.Labatt, and Molson), today there are many boutique breweries that have managed to gain market share. Sleeman is now the third largest brewery.

Imported beers have also made great inroads into the market place not surprisingly, both Molson and Labatt operate import branches to augment their profits.

The world brewing market undergoes constant mergers and today small breweries rarely become regional distributors. By the time they are large enough to cater to one or two provinces, a cash-rich large brewery buys the upstart.

Today, Labatt is owned by a huge Belgian brewing conglomerate (Interbrew), Molson merged a few years ago with Coor’s in Colorado to take advantage of economies of scale and increase its distribution in U S A.

North American big breweries always try to cater to the lowest common “beer palate” and brew by design bland, somewhat sweet beers.

Young, well travelled, and educated professionals soon learn that properly brewed beer is always enjoyable, flavourful, and invigorating. Insipid beers fail to attract them.

Imported beers, even those mass produced, taste better than the North American middle-of-the-road brews.

Unfortunately for Ontario craft brewers Brewer’s Retail, owned and operated by the big tree Ontario breweries control distribution by several rules designed to favour their brands.

Craft brewers must rely on L C B O stores for their products.

Beer marketers divide the Canadian market into- premium (72 per cent), value (14), and specialty drinkers (14).

The specialty segment is the fastest growing and is likely to continue for some time.

It used to be that beer drinkers preferred quantity to quality and were never interested in learning more about the intricacies of beer.

Essentially brewed beer consists of water, malted barley, hops, and yeast as a catalyst to convert sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Large brewery organizations use many additives to stabilize their products; these change both flavour and texture adversely.

Studies show that availability is a very important buying decision factor followed by merchandising, staff recommendation, promotion, price, and marketing.

Since large breweries control distribution, at least in Ontario, which is the largest consumer of beer overall, craft breweries stand a slim chance to compete on a level playing field.

Up to recently marketers thought that flooding the shelves with a huge number of brands ensures market share. This theory seems to have changed.

Labatt markets 50 brands coast to coast to coast, some of which are regional, others national, and yet others imports.

Their market share continues t decrease year after year.

Regardless, craft brewers like Amsterdam, Steam Whistle Brewing, Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, Walkersville Brewing, Mill Street Brew Pub, Granite Brewery, Cameron’s Brewing, King Brewing, Niagara’s Best Beer, Neustadt Springs Brewery, Wellington Brewery, Creemore Springs Brewery (now owned by Molson), Church Key Brewing, Grand River Brewing, and Lakes Of Muskoka Cottage Brewery are successful in selling their flavourful beers.

Studies show that servers influence guest’s buying decisions 55 per cent of the time, and 42 per cent of patrons make a buying decision only after entering a nigh club. The same is true in pubs (34 per cent) and casual dining (22 percent).

It pays to train severs about beer quality and proper beer service, but it pays even more or educate the beer drinking public at large.

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