In the battle of the brews, Sam is sinking — and the reason seems to be a classic case of “be careful what you wish for.”
After kicking off a craft beer revolution a generation ago with Samuel Adams, the Boston Beer Co. is facing an uphill battle. The company laid the groundwork for an enormous surge in craft beer consumption — there’s now an average of two new craft breweries opening every day — and yet Sam Adams is now being eclipsed by smaller, more local rivals, according to sales trends analyzed by the Wall Street Journal.
The Journal pointed out that while Americans can’t get enough of craft beer and are buying (and drinking) at a dizzying pace, Sam Adams is no longer the fridge or cooler staple for trendy drinkers. Small upstart brewers are nibbling away at its market share, while mass-market brewers buy more established craft beer brands, giving them cost and distribution advantages Sam Adams just can’t compete with.
For its part, the Boston Beer Co. said it’s been down this road before and isn’t worried about a slowdown in sales an the increased competition. Founder and chairman Jim Koch said the company is investing in operations to get beer onto store shelves sooner, and the brand is cranking out a dizzying number of differnt variations and flavors. “If we give drinkers better tasting beer, they’ll drink more of it,” Koch told the WSJ.
Some craft beer fans argue that there’s another problem; namely, that Sam lost its touch and is having a hard time competing in a more crowded marketplace. “Local beer geeks… think he’s lost his edge,” an article in Boston magazine last year said of the brand. “Hipster-friendly draft houses are turning their backs on the brew that started it all.”