Beerwatch: North American Beers

North American beers continue to sell well in both the on- and off-trade here. And by North American beers we mean beers from both the US and Canada – traditional and craft. In this month’s Beerwatch we look at what suppliers of North American brews are offering the trade this year.

The majority of North American beers take the form of American lagers though Ales and India Pale Ales have begun to come to prominence of late, particularly in the craft sector.

North American beers are about lighter-tasting, easy-to-drink, accessible brews which remain important for consumers who don’t want the challenge of the more taste-oriented beers on every occasion. North American beers fit into that space.

Heritage and provenance play an increasingly important part in the consumer’s decision to purchase.

“As consumers seek enhanced on-trade experiences, attention in beer has turned to brands and categories that exemplify heritage and provenance,” explains Philip Montgomery, Senior Account Manager with UK market analysts CGA Strategy on the status of American beer in the UK market, “In this environment, traditional American stalwarts have been challenged from a new generation of new, typically craft offerings.

“From cans filling the fridge to pumps springing up on the bar, American beer is a category on the rise. As numerous mainstream suppliers facilitate their own American craft beer products and retailers continue to broaden their craft beer range, the influence may grow even stronger moving forward.”

The US’s top-selling beers remain Bud Light and Coors Light. Sales of Bud Light topped $6 billion (up 1.4%) through selling nearly 299 million cases (up 0.5%) in 2014 according to an article in the US trade magazine Beverage Industry.

Coors light saw sales of 116 million cases (down 3%) generate value of $2.4 billion (down 2.0%).


North American beers in Ireland

Here in Ireland, North American beer brands hold around a quarter of the lager market in the on-trade and a third of the off-trade lager market.

Apart from growing share, the challenge for these brands is to ensure that they’re growing in the market niche that the suppliers want them to grow in.

Market leading brand Budweiser – which has found itself struggling to maintain its lead but now seems to be on surer ground – enjoys a 14% share of the on-trade market, where Coors Light, the next in line, has 9% and seems to be enjoying strong growth.

It’s no secret that it doesn’t make sense to brew and ship these brands across the Atlantic so Budweiser is brewed under licence at St James’s Gate while tCoors Light is licensed to Heineken Ireland which brews it in Cork.

However these North American franchises are carefully specified in terms of ingredients and brewing style and they’re inspected by the parent companies every year.



Budweiser bottlelowBrewed since 1876, American icon Budweiser is a truly global beer brand. It’s brewed for people who know what they like. Its fresh taste and clean finish results from using the finest quality ingredients. One in five LAD drinkers in Ireland drink Budweiser.

The LAD market is up 2% MAT in value, with 10 million more occasions year-on-year. This increase is driven by people visiting pubs on more days of the week along with an increase in low tempo occasions where friends gather for a drink. Lager rermains the bedrock of social gatherings (44% volume of social get-togethers). During those occasions, Budweiser is key to driving accessibility for consumers. That’s why it’s so popular, with over 600,000 Irish drinkers drinking a Budweiser in the last 12 months alone.

The more positive economic outlook is reflected in the steady growth Budweiser has seen recently. Budweiser has stemmed decline for the first time in 13 years and over the past three months has seen growth again, driven by off-trade sales where Budweiser continues to hold the number one position, but also by a healthy on-trade performance. Diageo Ireland has demonstrated its commitment to Budweiser by spending significantly more year-on-year in Share Of Voice.

The recent Budweiser Dream Job programme was a great success for the brand – the second year Ireland was invited to live their dream courtesy of Budweiser; a key platform for the brand to build affinity and inspire consumers. Securing Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul as their ambassador last year was a huge success for the campaign. In 2016, Budweiser will invite consumers and customers to dream big.

Budweiser Aaron Paullo

Securing Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul as Budweiser’s ambassador last year was a huge success for the campaign.

Budweiser will focus on increased investment in trade visibility and Above The Line activity. Budweiser is Diageo Ireland’s most difficult and expensive beer to make.

This Autumn Budweiser will refresh its packaging across the market in the on- and off-trade, delivering greater visibility and stand-out on shelf.








Coors Light


It’s been yet another busy, successful year to date for Coors Light. Its ‘Expedition’ campaign continued – with TV, Cinema, Outdoor, Digital and Mobile support. The results have been fantastic with record levels of engagement and interaction with the brand.

March saw the introduction of its new pint glass in the on-trade – this taller, slimmer and more contemporary design stands out in trade and is already proving a valuable addition for the brand.

Buoyed by such marketing activity and strong commercial support, Coors Light continues to sled past its competitors and attract new consumers with its offering of Rocky Mountain Cold Refreshment.

With growth in all key channels, Coors Light is now the number four lager in Ireland.

Now, the Coors Light Great Rocky Mountain Game is back, even bigger and better. The game now features six game play levels, all set high in the Rockies.

The controller design has also been updated to ensure the gaming experience remains fresh. Running to 31st August, the game offers players even more chances to win one of over 10,000 prizes weekly.


Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co



Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co produces award-winning beer and spirits and is one of a handful of joint brewing and distilling operations in the world.

Since its founding in Lexington, Kentucky, in 2000 by Irish entrepreneur Dr Pearse Lyons, its Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale has grown to become the brewery’s flagship brew, capitalising on the brewery’s proximity to fresh Kentucky bourbon barrels.

In 2012, the company became part of the world-renowned Kentucky Bourbon Trail with the opening of its Town Branch Distillery which crafts Town Branch Bourbon and other spirits.

As demand for the company’s beers and spirits grows worldwide, Alltech is quadrupling its capacity to 140,000 barrels thanks to the addition of two new Krones-Steinecker brewhouses that will be installed by the end of this year at its Kentucky location. The increased capacity will help Alltech expand further globally, with European distribution already in Ireland, Spain, France and Hungary.

Alltech will again host the popular annual Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair in February 2016 in Dublin’s Convention Centre. The three-day fair, the largest of its kind in Ireland, boasted 500 craft beers from more than 60 breweries including many seasonal and special release brews at the last Fair.

Alltech is also a key part of the Irish whiskey renaissance. The company is carefully renovating the 18th Century St James Church in the heart of Dublin’s Liberties that will become a distillery and visitor centre: St James Distillery. Located across from the Guinness Storehouse it’ll open in early 2017 following a multimillion-€uro renovation.


Samuel Adams


Boston Lager Draught Pour LowBrewed with only the finest ingredients including Bavarian Noble hops and traditional brewing methods, Samuel Adams is hand-crafted in single batches with extraordinary care and attention to detail.

Following his great-great grandfather’s recipe Boston Beer Founder Jim Koch uses only classic ingredients: hand-selected Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Tettnang Tettnanger hops, two-row Summer barley and pure water. No other American lager matches this rich robust and complex taste.

The balance of malty sweetness contrasted by hop spiciness and followed by the robust, smooth finish sets the standard for all Samuel Adams beers.

“It’s my job to make sure the beer’s soul and authenticity is preserved when it’s brewed under licence and I know Shepherd Neame has the right blend of tradition and modern brewing to make that happen,” he states.

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