MillerCoors, a publicly traded company, recently announced its first quarter results. Despite some good numbers, the important ones to look at are these:
"Domestic sales were down 2.5 percent to retailers and 2.2 percent to wholesalers."
MillerCoors is simply selling less beer. Sales of beers like Miller Chill are falling. Yet check out this interesting tidbit, from the same Wall Street Journal article: "Its Tenth and Blake craft and import beer business, launched in August, saw double-digit volume growth on a percentage basis, driven by Blue Moon."
Blue Moon is really a pretty decent Belgian-style witbier. What we have here is fewer people drinking bad beer (Miller Lite) with more people drinking good beer (Blue Moon).
And then you have to put this in the context of the ever-increasing size of of the craft-beer segment, especially when you hear things like Ska Brewing Co.'s sales grew 30 percent in 2010.
Clearly, there is an appetite for flavorful beer in America that still has room to grow.
Maybe, just maybe, as more drinkers experience craft beer, they'll choose beer that tastes good instead of simply reaching for whatever's cheapest.
You have to imagine that the big boys like MillerCoors, or Budweiser, which already makes Budweiser American Ale, are going to double down on craft-type beers.
Personally, I very rarely drink industrial lagers. Perhaps twice a year I'll grab a six-pack of Coors Original. In between go many purchases of craft beer.
I suspect over time this will become more and more mainstream, with more drinkers reaching for flavorful craft beer as their default.