The hottest beers of the summer are… cheap? And… German?
(A quick note: We’ll pick up the discussion of lactose in beer in the next column — I’m waiting on a couple more responses to give a wider view of how breweries approach using it and labelling it.)
Despite the nature of my job and how long I’ve been doing it (I need no reminders, thank you), I don’t consider myself any kind of “influencer.”
I have breweries and styles I’ll lean into, of course, but more than anything I try to approach my job in a reactive manner. I’m not here to tell our clients at Arrowine what to like; I’m here to play off of what they do like and introduce new things that are exceptional in quality, or value or, best case scenario, both.
So no, you won’t find me on Instagram in selfie after selfie with every can/bottle I drink in the foreground while I attempt a friendly smile in the background. I do notice patterns and trends, though, and I’ll say this: Y’all, something’s happening with Germany.
It started a couple months back with the arrival of .5L cans of Veltins Pilsner. It was an instant hit not only because it’s just damn good, but because came in at $8/4-pack. It’s become a staple in my fridge.
Then, just before Memorial Day, Wolters Pilsner arrived in the same format but at $5/4-pack, followed by Tucher’s Helles Hefeweizen, which delivers clean, easy, classic German Wheat Ale goodness at only $7/4-pack. And there are more on the way.
So what gives? The origins of this wave hitting our shores now can be found back in 1976, the year per capita beer consumption peaked in Germany, dropping one-third in the decades since. Competition for those remaining beer drinkers has driven a price war that has seen German retail beer prices drop to levels nearly half what they were back in the early 90s (adjusted for inflation).
Rather than a temporary method of boosting sales, those low-margin prices have become the new norm. With no more margin to lose and home-market sales continuing to stagnate, German breweries have turned their eyes back to the States, where Mexican beers dominate import sales (accounting for about 70 percent of the American import market) but where “macro” is down, and “craft” continues to grow, albeit slower over the past couple years than the previous 10-15. It’s a perfect moment for these beers, with many transitioning to more Lager-centric drinking preferences and a (for now) quiet but growing exasperation with $20 4-packs and the FOMO mentality.
We’re not in a full-on paradigm shift just yet: I still tell people often that anyone who can get even a half-decent IPA into 16oz 4-packs that retail at $13.99 is going to sell them with little problem. But more people just want to have a couple good beers, maybe even with friends, without having to all-but get them to sign a waiver and without breaking their banks, and these Germans are filling that void.
Upcoming Arrowine Events:
Friday, July 19, 5-7 p.m.: Sean Michaels from The Bruery
Saturday, July 20, 1-4 p.m.: Three Notch’d with Dave Keuhner
Friday, August 30, 5-7 p.m.: Stephanie Boles with Old Ox Brewing
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Signature Theatre just released single tickets for all 33rd season productions, which highlights the organization’s long-time relationship with legendary composer Stephen Sondheim. Beginning with the musical adaptation of The Color Purple and irreverent No Place to Go, the season continues with three Sondheim musicals, the DC premieres of Off-Broadway hit Which Way to the Stage and Pulitzer Prize finalist Selling Kabul, the Tony Award®-winning rock musical Passing Strange, and return of Signature’s cabaret series honoring legendary artists.
“Last November, the world lost an icon. The death of Stephen Sondheim was a blow to everyone in the theater community. Signature Theatre would not be the same without Sondheim — he IS Signature’s ‘signature.’ This season, we are honoring the legend with productions of Into the Woods, Pacific Overtures and Sweeney Todd dedicated to his memory. These shows represent the diversity and range of Sondheim,” said Signature’s Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner about the new season.
Join us Sunday, Aug 28 from 12-3pm for our MEGA Wine Tasting
How it Works:
We’ve invited all our wine vendors that we work with to bring 6-10 wines in their portfolio (wines that are usually not carried at Osteria