The craft beer industry has steadily gained market share from the big three (Bud, Miller, Coors) over the past decade, rising to 7.6% of total beer revenue in the US in 2010¹. This steady incline is occurring while total beer sales have been slowly declining over the past 3 years, down 1.0% in 2010 from the year previous and expected to dip again in 2011¹. Therefore it’s easy to see the risk involved with opening a craft brewery in America today, but there’s one brewery trying to really beat the odds: Kräftig.
With founders who are no strangers to the beer industry, Kräftig is aiming to fill a niche most people would argue doesn’t even exist. Billy Busch, son of American beer kingpin August Busch Jr., and Jim Hoffmeister, a former top executive at Anheuser-Busch have created a type of business class lager, fitting somewhere between ubiquitous mainstream companies and craft brews with a price tag of about $6.70 per 6-pack. Their business model is very ambitious however and there seems to be nothing “craft” about it. Hoffmeister said, “When Billy and I first started talking, I wasn’t interested in 200,000 or 300,000 barrels.” Instead they aim to produce 2 million barrels at a brewery somewhere near the St. Louis area which should be built within the next 3 years. Lagers are the most consumed beer in America thanks to BMC and the people at Kräftig want a piece of that appetite.
Billy Busch could be found in a few local pubs this past Thanksgiving weekend handing out free samples of Kräftig to build early buzz. According to Twitter, people seem to have enjoyed it, but who doesn’t enjoy a free beer? @eirik_the_red tweeted “Tried Kraftig lager last night. It has a very unique taste that stands. Probably more of a hop flavor than mainstream beers.” And
@rfonner57 wrote ” love the beer! And my wife who is not a craft beer drinker loves it too! Thx, appreciate it.” So the early buzz seems to be positive for Kräftig but these tweets are most likely coming from people who would give the same praise to a Budweiser or Coors. With the craft beer industry steadily growing and the big three riding their heritage and ubiquity to billions in revenue, is there really a place for another mainstream lager in America? No one can say without first tasting Kräftig of course, but it looks as though we’ll soon be relentlessly bombarded by advertisements and hype by yet another giant corporate brewery. May their commercials be funny and entertaining, for there isn’t much hope for the beer itself.
For a more in depth article, read “Billy Busch targets Bud drinkers with new beer”
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