A Rally Cry from Craft Beer Muses

By Julia Herz

Echo this rally cry:  It is time to provide more dedicated coverage of craft beer.

Stop with me for a moment to ponder this: we are truly at a turning point—a juncture—of things to come with today’s small and independent craft brewers. They have become darlings of the fermented beverage universe and have helped beer reclaim its place at the dinner table. Excitedly, we are seeing more and more coverage of craft beer and beer and food pairing. But I’d like to get straight to the point and call for more dedicated and regular content of craft beer across all media platforms.

I say ‘regular’, because while so much of today’s main stream food and beverage coverage (television, radio, Internet or print—take your pick) are serving up amazing one time features on the craft beer revolution, craft beer has not become a part of their ‘regular’ content.

If you are a dedicated beer lover (there are 94 million of us from one source I’ve seen) and also visiting CraftBeer.com  then you likely appreciate information on craft beer, craft brewers and news on their latest projects and ventures.  So, I say it’s time to tell your regular food source media outlets that you want to read, hear and view more regular information about craft beer.

There have been some small victories recently, I tip my hat to the Discovery Channel, who just announced a series called ‘Brewed‘ that will feature Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and their worldly adventures to bring fuller flavored craft beers to market. I also applaud the two recent craft beer features (pictured above) from Wine Enthusiast’s August 2010 issue and Culture Magazine‘s Summer 2010 issue. Wine Enthusiast Magazine also now features regular beer reviews, and publications like Food & Wine and The Washington Post have been including more stories that feature U.S. craft beer, instead of devoted solely to specialty imports. Cheers to that!

But, back to the case for more regular craft beer coverage. Let me share some numbers. I’ll argue if you take the time to forward this, it may even provide job security for those who are lucky enough to write about craft beer and possibly broaden the mindset of food and beverage publishers and producers across our great beer-ie landscape!

Surprising Statistics

An estimated 60% of adult Americans enjoy fermented beverages (Gallup Poll in 2009 even reported 64%).

  • Beer = 42.8% of the appreciators (Mediamark Research – 2008)
  • Wine = 29% of the appreciators (Mediamark Research – 2008)

What’s that, 29% wine and 42.8% beer? Actually, that’s not so surprising to me.

And then there’s this from two of the leading journalist database companies existing today. I asked both on July 1, 2010 how many journalists do they have in their media database with either ‘beer’ or ‘wine’ as one of their beats (coverage topics) in the U.S. and Canada.

  • 352 Beer / 1,341 Wine (PR Newswire’s MediaAtlas)
  • 573 Beer / 1,125 Wine (Cision)

Say what? Get with the times mass media! And specifically, to all you cross drinking wine journalists, (you know who you are) we welcome you to the craft beer side and applaud your interests. You are welcome with open arms to the fun, passionate and authentic world of craft beer. Now go and report on it!

And, one last point to make—at least for now. Clearly, based on the fact that the majority of fermented beverage sales come from cross-drinking appreciators who purchase beer, wine and spirits (Nielsen Beverage Company-2009), why wouldn’t media organizations want to cater to them by working in regular content on craft beer too? I’ve noticed that many outlets hire a wine writer as the beverage contributor, but still don’t have a beer expert representing the beverage beat. Or, visually, I’ve noticed wine used as the fermented beverage in someone’s hand as a prop during a cooking show, where craft beer would have been more realistic to the situation.

So, with all of the above, I echo the rally cry for everyone from beer beginners to beer geeks to remind your news sources that today’s food and beverage oriented media outlets should get with the times and be proud to invest in craft beer coverage.

Julia Herz is the Craft Beer Program Director for the Brewers Association, co-author of the free CraftBeer.com Beer & Food Course, as well co-author of Beer Pairing (Voyageur Press). She is a life-long homebrewer, BJCP beer judge and Certified Cicerone®. Despite her extensive experience, she will always consider herself a beer beginner on an unending journey to learn more about craft beer.

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