Intellectual Property for Beverage Manufacturers

By: Brian D. Kaider, Esq.

While many people are familiar with the four main types of intellectual property: patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets, often they don’t know the distinctions between them or what they are meant to protect.  This article is meant to cut through the confusion and explain these distinctions and how each property right applies to the beverage industry.

Patents Protect Ideas – sort of

  Most people have a general understanding that a patent protects an “invention” or an idea.  In a very general sense, that’s true.  But, even though the Congressional authority to grant patent rights comes directly from the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8), exactly what is patentable is the subject of tremendous confusion among the U.S. population, examiners at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, lawyers, and even judges; sometimes requiring clarification from the U.S. Supreme Court.  The purpose behind the grant of a patent is to encourage innovation by granting exclusive rights to one’s discoveries for a limited time.  In other words, it gives the patent holder a short-term (20 years from the date of filing) monopoly on his invention.  Generally, new machines, chemicals, electronics, methods of production, and in some cases, methods of doing business, are eligible for patent protection.

  But, not all ideas are patentable.  In fact, ideas alone cannot be patented.  They must first be “reduced to practice,” meaning that either you must have actually created your invention or have described it in sufficient detail that someone skilled in that area could follow your disclosure and create it themselves.  So, you can’t get a patent on a time machine, because (at least for now) no one has figured out how to defy the time-space continuum.  In addition, to be patentable, ideas must be novel, meaning that no one else has ever disclosed that idea before, and non-obvious, meaning that your idea cannot be an obvious variant on someone else’s invention.

  Given that humans have been making beer for thousands of years, one might think that coming up with something novel in the brewing process would be impossible.  Not so.  In preparation for this article, I ran a quick search of patents containing the word “beer” in the title and got 491 hits.  Some recent examples include U.S. Patent No. 10,570,357 – “In-line detection of chemical compounds in beer,” U.S. Patent No. 10,550,358 – Method of producing beer having a tailored flavor profile,”  and U.S. Patent No. 10,400,200 – Filter arrangement with false bottom for beer-brewing system.” 

  Improvements in any area of the alcoholic beverage industry may be patentable including, new types of bottles, cans, growlers, and kegs; new types of closures and caps; improved methods of separating hops from bines and leaves; new processing equipment, improved testing procedures and equipment, improved packaging, etc.  Essentially, anything that lowers costs between the farm and the consumer, improves the quality of the beverage, or enhances the consumer experience is worth considering for patent protection.

  One word of caution, however; time is of the essence.  The America Invents Act, effective March 16, 2013, brought the U.S. in line with most other countries in being a “first to file” system, meaning if two people develop the same invention, the first to file for patent protection wins, regardless of who first came up with the idea.  Also, any public disclosure of your idea (such as at a trade show) starts a 1-year clock to file or you may lose your eligibility for patent protection.

Copyrights Protect Creative Works

  The authority for copyright protection stems from the same section of the U.S. Constitution as patent protection, discussed above.  Our founding fathers recognized the valuable contribution made to society by authors and artists and, therefore, sought to encourage creative expression by providing protection for artistic works.  Examples of copyrightable materials include, books, paintings, sculptures, musical compositions, and photographs.

  Unlike inventive ideas, which are only protected when the government issues a patent to the inventor, copyrights attach at the moment the artistic work is “fixed” in a tangible medium.  So, for example, if a composer develops a new musical score in her head it isn’t protected, but the moment she translates that tune to notes on a page or computer screen, it becomes protected by copyright.  In order to enforce that copyright in court, however, it must be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.  While it is possible to wait until an infringer comes along before filing for registration, doing so can severely limit the damages that may be available to the author of the creative work.  So, early registration is the better course. 

  In the beverage industry, copyright issues often crop up with regard to labels and advertising materials.  But often disputes arise relating to who owns the artwork contained within a label, for example.  Generally, the author of a work owns the copyright.  But, if an employee of a brewery, acting within the scope of their employment, creates an image that the brewery owner incorporates into its labels, that picture is considered a “work made for hire” and is owned by the brewery.  Where disputes often arise, however, is if the brewery hires an outside artist or a branding agency to develop the artwork.  In that case, the brewery should include language in its contract requiring assignment of all copyrights to the brewery for the created artistic works.  The same would apply for any artwork commissioned for use inside the brewery tasting room or for marketing materials.

Trademarks Protect “Source Identifiers”

  People generally associate trademarks with the protection of a brand.  In fact, I have often described trademarks as an “insurance policy for your brand.”  But, in more technical terms, what a trademark protects is a “source identifier.”  The purpose of trademark law is to protect consumers from being misled or mistaken as to the source of a product.  So, for example, if a consumer sees a pair of shoes with a certain famous “swoosh” image on the side, they should be reasonably able to assume that pair of shoes was manufactured by Nike, Inc. and was made with the same degree of workmanship and quality that they have come to expect from that company.  That “swoosh” symbol, therefore, acts as a source identifier to tell the public that the product was made by Nike, Inc. 

  What may function as a trademark can be quite broad, including: the name of the business (e.g., Triple Nickle Distillery®), a logo (e.g., the “swoosh”), a color (e.g., the Home Depot orange or the UPS brown), even a scent (e.g., Verizon owns a trademark on a “flowery musk scent” it pumps into its stores to help distinguish them from competitors’ environments).  Not everything can be trademarked, however.  Slogans, words, and images that appear merely as decoration as opposed to a means of identifying the supplier will not qualify for protection unless the applicant can demonstrate that the item has achieved “secondary meaning,” i.e., that the public has come to associate that item with the manufacturer.  As an example, in the 1970’s McDonalds used the slogan, “You deserve a break today” in its commercials and other advertising.  People came to associate this phrase with McDonalds and in 1973 they were granted a trademark registration.  Incidentally, McDonalds briefly let this trademark go abandoned in 2014, but quickly re-filed and the mark is still active today, more than 45 years after it first registered.

  In general, marks also cannot be descriptive of the product or geographically descriptive of the source in order to be registered as a trademark.  For example, one could not obtain a registration for just the words “India Pale Ale.,” because it simply describes the product and does nothing to differentiate it from every other IPA on the market.  Similarly, an attempt in 2019 to register the name “Philly City Brewery” was refused as “primarily geographically descriptive,” because the applicant could not demonstrate that people had come to associate that name with its business as opposed to the many other breweries in Philadelphia. 

Trade Secrets Protect Valuable Confidential Business Information

  Unlike other forms of intellectual property, there is no registration system for trade secrets, because, by their very nature, they must be protected from all unnecessary disclosure.  Trade secrets can be just about anything that is confidential to your business and gives you a competitive advantage.  Some examples, include recipes, client lists, manufacturing processes, marketing plans, and client lists.  These are things that, if publicly disclosed, would harm the competitive position of the company and, therefore, must be vigorously protected. 

  One of the most famous trade secrets is the formula for Coca-Cola.  This formula has been protected for more than 130 years, sometimes through extraordinary measures.  In 1977, The Coca Cola Company withdrew its product from India, because in order to sell there, they would have had to disclose the formula to the government.  They decided it was more prudent to forego sales to one of the biggest populations on earth rather than risk disclosure of their secret recipe.

  Protecting trade secrets requires constant vigilance in two ways.  First, the information should only be disseminated to people within the company, or outside consultants, who need the information in order to perform their duties for the company.  In other words, the information is on a strictly “need-to-know” basis.  Second, those few people who are given access, should sign non-disclosure agreements with harsh penalties for breach of their duty of confidentiality.  Once the information gets out, it’s nearly impossible to un-ring that bell, so there must be severe financial consequences to someone who leaks the information.

  Brian Kaider is a principal of KaiderLaw, a law firm with extensive experience in the craft beverage industry. He has represented clients from the smallest of start-up breweries to Fortune 500 corporations in the navigation of regulatory requirements, drafting and negotiating contracts, prosecuting trademark and patent applications, and complex commercial litigation.

For more information please contact Brian Kaider at…
240-308-8032; BKAIDER@KAIDERLAW.COM; www.KaiderLaw.com

Bryant’s Ciders: Creating a Niche Market in the Cider World

By: Nan McCreary

A driving force in the craft beverage market today is to create unique tastes and products—and even tasting rooms— not found anyplace else. One cider maker, Jerry Thornton, is trying to do just that with Bryant’s Small Batch Ciders in the heart of Virginia’s cider country.

  Thornton’s journey began when he inherited his family’s sixth-generation farm and orchard, Edgewood, located near the Route 151 beverage corridor in Nelson County. Thornton had a successful career in corporate finance at the time but saw an opportunity in the property, where the family had been growing apples since 1865 (except for a brief time after hurricane Camille destroyed the orchard). Bitten by the cider bug, he attended a cidermaking course through Cornell University in Geneva, New York, and returned home determined to make the farm (replanted in 1998) sustainable. He immediately converted the 40s era garage built by his grandfather into the cidery, and a nearby building into a tasting room. The tasting room opened in May 2018.

  Thornton’s goal then—and now—was to “produce authentic farm-to-table hard ciders using traditional methods while creating an organic and always evolving consumer experience.” With its rustic charm, the cidery is a throwback to pre-prohibition days when cider ruled. But there is nothing rustic about the ciders.

  Unlike the sweet ciders of yore, Thornton produces 100% sugar-free, naturally carbonated ciders with fresh, organic ingredients. Call it champagne with flavorings, or, more officially, call it a brut cider, a style growing in popularity today.

  Bryant’s apples are sourced from his “backyard,” the 45-acre orchard on the original homestead that has traditionally produced table apples for commercial use. 

  “These are quality, multi-use apples—like Pink Lady and Stayman—that make good cider,” Thornton told Beverage Master Magazine. “They have good acidity and good sugar content, and they’re not too tannic. They fit in with the style we make. We want our cider to have a neutral flavor, so we can have more leeway to make funkier stuff.”

  Bryant’s Small Batch Ciders are hand-crafted from picking to packaging. Unlike many cideries that opt for short fermentation, Thornton ferments his juice for two months to produce a totally dry cider. He then adds flavoring ingredients—always natural or organic—and lets the flavors steep for three days. To avoid spoilage, after straining and racking the juice, he quickly packages the product, be it in a bottle, can or keg. After packaging, he adds the “magic potion”—champagne yeast and priming sugar—that initiates a second fermentation. This process takes three weeks to a month, or until all the sugars are consumed. The second fermentation adds a small amount of carbonation to the product as well as character and body. Thornton does not disgorge or filter after fermentation. 

  “We leave it in the package,” he said. “Most people are comfortable with lees in the bottle, and in the cans, you can’t even tell. Besides, people in the craft market appreciate a little haze.” The finished product, a brut cider, is bone dry with an elegant finish.

  Bryant’s Small Batch Ciders fall in the mid-tier price level, costing $12 for a four-pack of cans or a limited release 750 ml bottle. “We’re going for quality, not profits,” Thornton said. Currently, he produces 1500 gallons or 45 barrels of cider per month.

  What makes Bryant’s Ciders particularly unique is the flavors. His mainstays include Unicorn Fuel, a brut cider with rose hips and hibiscus; Brite Good, the flagship Brut cider, which incorporates French oak tannins to enhance mouthfeel while leaving a true cider aroma and flavor profile; Sumthin Juicy, styled after a New England IPA and dry-hopped three times with six different hop varieties; and Red Eye, a cold-brewed coffee cider with locally-sourced beans brewed directly in the juice. Bryant’s also sells seasonal and limited release ciders, including a Star Sign Line named for signs of the Zodiac. Typically, the ciders’ alcohol by volume is 8%.

  While Bryant’s ciders are all-natural, sugar-free and in the brut style, Thornton is always on the lookout for new “funky” flavors. “Our mindset favors craft beer profiles and ideas as opposed to historic, simple cider profiles,” he said. “If we can get an ingredient, we’ll try it. We don’t make test batches; we just go for it. So far, most have gone pretty well, and we haven’t had any complete disasters.”

  One recent experiment that turned out positive results is Bryant’s line of ciders fermented and aged in used stout beer barrels. These include Satan’s Heaven, a slightly bitter cider aged in Blue Mountain Barrel House American oak bourbon barrels with cocoa nibs and cayenne pepper, and Dark Unicorn, a smooth cider featuring Bryant’s cult favorite, Unicorn Fuel, aged in Blue Mountain’s bourbon barrels with rose hips and hibiscus. “I get barrels from local distilleries and breweries for aging ciders,” Thornton said. “If I have fresh juice, I will ferment it in the barrel too.”

  While fermenting and aging in bourbon barrels are relatively new trends among cider makers, the processes harken back to American cider’s origins in New England when all ciders were fermented, aged and transported in barrels. Today’s cidermakers are seeing that oak-aging adds tannins, complexities and flavors to the juice.

  While Thornton continues his innovative approach to ciders, he is expanding his

operations to include a new tasting room near downtown Richmond. The new space, which opened this spring in Shockoe Bottom, offers seven ciders on tap and cider cocktails. The historic 1850’s building also includes a second cidery in the back, which allows Thornton to double production.

  Whether offering cider in an 1850s sheep barn on a quiet orchard or in a cozy bar close to a population center, Thornton has his local bases covered. The farm is an ideal, family and pet-friendly getaway, 45 miles from Richmond, where customers can enjoy quality cider in an isolated, mountainous setting. The Richmond location has a unique vibe of its own, with its 1850s building located in a historic part of the city with cobblestone streets and trendy stores. Thornton also distributes his ciders to high-end craft beer stores throughout the state of Virginia and is hoping to expand to North Carolina and the Washington D.C. area. With a broad range of ciders packaged in cans, bottles and kegs, Thornton’s products are designed for customers who are seeking sustainable, natural and sugar-free quality drinks. The canned ciders are a special boon for those with an active lifestyle who favor cans over glass while hiking, boating or picnicking.

  As Thornton looks to the future, he plans to maintain the legacy of the sixth-generation farm using sustainable agriculture to preserve the natural resources. He also wants to move forward by building a larger cidery and developing the property into an event space to host weddings, meetings and private parties. Currently, the farm and the Richmond location offer light snacks and grilled cheese options. Product-wise, Thornton has planted 13 acres of cider-specific apples and is launching a cider-style hard seltzer with minimal calories and 4% ABV this summer.

  While Thornton sees growth ahead for the cider industry, he recognizes that there are challenges ahead, as there are for any craft beverage. “Our biggest challenge,” he said, “is that people refer to the beverage as being sugary, but they really don’t recognize its range. Cider can be a drink that is just like a fine wine, or it can be a sugar bomb with apple juice. Here in Virginia, I think people understand that there are different niches, just like in craft beers. As people start experiencing cider, especially in bars, I think the brut styles will help grow the market. People are really into 100% sugar-free drinks.”

  While hard cider—the dominant drink in American before prohibition—is having what Thornton calls “it’s second coming,” industry projections predict more consumers will jump on its bandwagon. Thornton plans to be there for them, offering drinks that are innovative and health-conscious. “We’d like to grow, but our team is content right now to make stuff that is unique and gives a different vibe. We’re just going to go with the flow.”

For more information on Bryant’s Ciders, visit… bryantscider.com

SUPPORTING “TRADE” DURING COVID-19

By: Ryan Malkin

  Does the rulebook go out the window during a pandemic? As the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”) and states weigh in via guidance and industry advisories, the resounding answer is no. Still, brands seek to support bartenders with, by and large, pure intentions. That is, brands have money and bartenders may not. Bartenders and brands establish important and long-term relationships over the course of, in some cases, decades. If your friend needed a meal, you’d certainly oblige. However, when the funds are coming from an upper tier (manufacturer, supplier, wholesaler) member’s pockets, we must consider whether and how funds can go towards trade. As a threshold matter, we should consider whether the bartender is employed or unemployed. If a bartender is unemployed, arguably that person is no longer considered a retailer within the meaning of the rules. If that’s the case, the rules with regards to how a brand may engage with that person may also go out the window.

  By way of very brief background, it is unlawful to induce a retailer (an on-premise or off-premise licensee) to purchase your brand to the exclusion in whole or in part of another brand’s products. In particular, the federal and most state rules note that, subject to exceptions, “the act by an industry member of furnishing, giving, renting, lending, or selling any equipment, fixtures, signs, supplies, money, services, or other things of value to a retailer constitutes a means to induce within the meaning of the Act.” In short: unless there is an exception, you may consider the giving of any “thing of value” to be impermissible.

  That means, but for exceptions, it is impermissible to acquire or hold any interest in a retail license, pay or credit a retailer for advertising, guarantee a loan to a retailer, require a retailer to purchase a certain amount of products, or provide any items that are not allowed under an exception. Those of us in the alcohol beverage industry may not realize it, but we largely play in the world of exceptions. The exceptions are where you find it permissible to offer point-of-sale materials, conduct tastings/samplings, provide displays, offer educational seminars to retailers, and stock/rotate your products.

  Federally and in many, though not all, states the providing of the “thing of value” must also lead to exclusion. Exclusion is when the practice “puts the retailer’s independence at risk.” To determine that, the TTB will look at the practice and consider, among other things, whether it required an obligation on the part of the retailer to purchase or promote the brand, and whether it resulted in discrimination among retailers. That means the brand did not offer the same thing to all retailers in the area on the same terms without business reasons for the difference in treatment.

  Now that we’re on the same page with regards to the rules, we want to consider whether the person we want to assist is employed by a retailer or unemployed. If the person is employed by retailer (remember that means on-premise or off-premise), the brand will be more limited in how it may engage with that person. In short, follow the pre COVID-19 rules. TTB’s recent guidance on this topic specifically states that “the furnishing of business meals or entertainment to a trade buyer is an inducement under the Act” if the inducement results in the full or partial exclusion of products sold by that brand in the course of interstate or foreign commerce. In other words, according to TTB, “the furnishing of business meals or entertainment to a trade buyer is not by itself a violation of the Act.” In fact, providing retailer entertainment is quite common and many states have specific regulations that permit the practice.

  Typical states rules will require that the brand’s representative be present, that the entertainment be reasonable, and not conditioned on the purchase or agreement to purchase any of the brand’s products. Retailer entertainment rules are how you often see brand’s take bartenders and liquor store owners to ballgames, concerts and dinner.

  Given the social distancing rules, it is impractical and unsafe to get together with working trade. Instead of going to dinner and discussing business, it may be worth considering whether a brand feels comfortable doing so online via, say, Zoom or FaceTime. The brand can send drinks and a meal to the bartender. When the food and drinks arrive, the brand and the bartender can hop online and eat together. The brand representative would be as present as one can reasonably during this time. Of course, the brand should analyze this against the rules in the applicable state(s) and with its own attorney.

  However, if the bartender is no longer employed, one should now consider him or her as just a regular consumer, albeit with above average mixology skills. Now the brand may feel comfortable entering into an agreement with the person to be a brand consultant to perform any number of services. For instance, to create how-to cocktail videos or conduct virtual tastings. The brand would then pay that person whatever the two agree as reasonable. The brand should consider putting an agreement in place with that out-of-work bartender. The agreement should include basic provisions, perhaps paying particular attention to intellectual property (we own it, you’re using it with our permission and we own what you create) and representations around the unemployed bartender’s status. This compliance section should require the person being hired to acknowledge that he or she does not have any direct, or indirect, ownership in any retailer, and, at minimum, that the fee being paid is not conditioned on or being used to induce any retailer to purchase the brand’s products to the exclusion of any competitive products.

  Now that you have a solution for supporting both employed, though perhaps struggling, bartenders and those out-of-work, go out there and keep your brand alive and relevant during these unprecedented times.  Be careful out there.

  Ryan Malkin is principal attorney at Malkin Law P.A., a law firm serving the alcohol beverage industry. Nothing in this article is intended to be and should not be construed as specific legal advice.

For more information contact Ryan Malkin at…

Malkin Law, P.A.

260 95th Street, Suite 206

Miami Beach, FL 33154

Office: (305) 763-8539

Mobile: (646) 345-8639

Email: ryan@malkin.law

Website: www.malkinlawfirm.com

Keys to Creating Effective Incentives for the Craft Beer Distribution Channel

By: By Nichole Gunn, Vice President of Marketing and Creative Services, Incentive Solutions

  When it comes to improving your go-to-market strategy, incentives can be a powerful tool that craft beer producers can use to motivate distributors and wholesalers to sell their product. Incentive programs help craft beer producers build mindshare with distributors and wholesalers, differentiate their product, provide enablement to indirect sales reps and collect important data throughout their channel.

  However, it is important to be mindful of your marketing spend and to focus on designing your program to generate a meaningful ROI. Keep in mind that an incentive program is about more than just rewards. 

Keys to Creating an Effective  Incentive Program

  While the specifics of incentive program design will be as varied and unique as the craft beer producers who use them, below are several overarching principles that can be utilized to create effective incentives for supply chain trading partners:

1.  Choose a specific, measurable goal for your program.

2.  Analyze your audience and your competitive situation.

3.  Offer rewards that are relevant to your target audience.

4.  Structure promotions to target KPIs (key performance indicators) that bring you closer to your goal.

5.  Consistently market your program to stay top of mind of with your indirect sales reps.

6.  Use digital platforms to drive your program and measure results.

  By following these six steps, craft beer producers can establish effective incentive programs that give them a sustainable competitive advantage in their channel and allow them to focus more of their attention on where it belongs – crafting great beer that their customers will love!

Choosing a Specific, Measurable Goal

  In order to achieve a meaningful ROI, it’s important to begin with the end in mind. Why do you want to launch an incentive program? What do you hope this program will accomplish? How will you measure success? The more specific you are when answering these questions, the more informed you will be when making decisions to empower your goals.

  Possible program goals craft beer producers use incentive programs to accomplish include:

•    Generating brand awareness;

•    Increasing sales for a specific product or region;

•    Driving incremental growth among supply chain trading partners;

•    Gathering data to improve partner profiles;

•    Capturing market share and gaining access to new verticals; and

•    Building loyalty with wholesale and distributor sales reps.

  While an effective channel incentive program can accomplish all of these things, it’s best to start small and narrow your focus to just one or two goals. Doing so will help you sell other members of your organization on the idea of launching an incentive program and will allow you to more effectively measure the results. Plus, you can always scale your program to accomplish additional goals once you know it’s working.

Analyzing Your Audience and Your Competitive Situation

  When building an incentive program, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the wholesale and distributor sales reps you’re attempting to motivate. What do you know about their lifestyle? What are the things that excite them? What information can you provide to make selling your products easier for them? The more you understand about your target audience, the better equipped you will be to create incentives that inspire them and align your goals with theirs. 

  In the competitive craft beer channel, each of these reps is responsible for selling multiple products from dozens of brands. The battle for mindshare is fierce. Chances are, some of your competitors are already running an incentive program or using other channel marketing promotions. It’s up to you to take a look at what your competitors are doing and to create an incentive program that is more engaging and compelling than theirs.

Offering Relevant Rewards to Your Target Audience

  According to the COLLOQUY Loyalty Census, the average American household is enrolled in more than 18 loyalty programs. Of those, they actively participate in fewer than half. In order for your incentive program to accomplish its goals, you have to stand out from the competition by offering rewards that enhance your value proposition and feel necessary to your participants.

  The more closely you can match your incentive rewards to the lifestyle and interests of your participants, the more effective your program will be. However, it’s important to choose rewards that align with varying levels of performance, while fitting into your overall budget. Luckily, there are plenty of options!

  For SPIFFs, rebates or programs with a wide range of participants, debit card and gift card rewards provide flexibility, convenience and wide appeal. Online merchandise rewards are more personalized and scalable, ranging from easily-earned “point burner” items like movie tickets for part-time customers, to exclusive, high-end merchandise and custom reward fulfillment for higher-performing supply chain partners. Group incentive travel is memorable and emotionally impactful, perfect for building loyalty with your top wholesale and distributor sales reps. Although incentive travel events are currently on hold for the foreseeable future, demand for travel rewards will be extremely high when the shutdown ends. This will not last forever, and there will be compelling bargains to be had as resorts and hotels at top destinations endeavor to resume business.

  Additionally, you can use a mix of rewards and tier them for different levels of performance or segments of your channel. For instance, it might make sense to offer an online points program for individual sales reps, while running an incentive travel promotion for the brand managers at the distributor level.

Structuring Promotions to Target Strategic KPIs

Incentives work by modifying the behaviors of your wholesale and distributor sales reps. Each step these reps take that bring you closer to your goal is also known as a KPI (key performance indicator). KPIs can be measured to predict or prove program success. For instance, the more participants that enroll in your program, the more likely they are to sell your product. Enrollment bonuses are a common incentive promotion, but you can also reward points bonuses for KPIs such as:

•    Attending tradeshows or taking online certification courses;

•    Participating in product-related trivia and quizzes;

•    Providing referrals;

•    Filling out surveys or updating their contact information; or

•    Making a first-time sale of a specific product.

  However, priorities change! For craft beer distributors, it’s important to have the ability to set multiple promotions and change reward parameters to target strategic initiatives, capitalize on analytics and respond to the tactics of the competition.

Marketing Your Program to Stay Top of Mind

  Once you have outlined your strategy and structure, the next step is to spread the word. Incentive programs create an easily communicated value proposition, but it’s necessary to consistently reach out and engage with your wholesale and distributor sales reps over a variety of channels.

  From program launch to reward redemption, you should be communicating with your supply chain trading partners across email, SMS, web platforms, direct mailers, flyers and phone calls. Get them excited about participating in your program, educate them on your brand, inform them about new promotions and remind them about the rewards they have the opportunity to earn. Your incentive program provides the chance to personalize your communication with your indirect sales reps in a way that may be otherwise difficult to achieve in the craft beer distribution channel. Additionally, you can use analytics to spot opportunities for growth or which accounts you should reengage and create targeted marketing campaigns for those accounts.

Using Digital Platforms to Drive Your Program

  Finally, you have to consider the user experience of engaging with your platform, as well as the administrative functions you need to successfully manage your program. Today’s incentive programs, like most business platforms, are software-driven. Gone are the days of analog catalogs, manual processes and investing in channel marketing strategies that don’t produce measurable results.

  When exploring potential incentive program providers, craft beer producers should ask themselves questions such as:

•    Does this incentive program software integrate with my CRM and other existing platforms?

•    How will this program software help me capture the data and analytics I need to improve my channel marketing?

•    How will this program software improve my ability to communicate with my supply chain trading partners?

•    Will my reward program website present an engaging and accessible user-experience that is a strong reflection of my brand?

•    What other features, such as gamification and sales enablement tools, does this platform include to keep participants engaged and to help them succeed?

  Luckily, these are areas where the incentive industry has made exciting strides over the last decade or so. As data, analytics, automation and providing digitally connected channel partner experiences continue to become increasingly important, incentive companies have shifted their focus from just providing reward fulfillment to offering complete channel sales and marketing solutions.

  This focus on technology has made launching and managing an incentive program less time intensive. In a 2019 survey, Incentive Solutions found that 70 percent of our clients, including several notable craft beer producers, spend less than two hours a week managing their incentive program. Additionally, some incentive companies provide the option to take full responsibility for program management to free up your resources for other priorities.

  After all, chances are you didn’t get into the craft beer industry to manage channel partners and set parameters for sales promotions. You got into it because you are passionate about brewing great beer!  

  Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing and Creative Services at Incentive Solutions (www.incentivesolutions.com), an Atlanta-based incentive company that specializes in helping B2B companies improve their channel sales, build customer loyalty, and motivate their employees. Nichole Gunn can be reached at ngunn@incentivesolutions.com.

Cider Saviours: How the Next Generation of Craft Cider-Makers is Saving Family-Run Farms

By: Briana Tomkinson

The agriculture industry is in a period of intense change. Globalized markets are driving com-modity prices down, making it hard for smaller farms to compete. Many mid-sized operations are being snapped up by large conglomerates.

  Additionally, many of the men and women running small and mid-sized North American farms are starting to look forward to retirement. According to Statistics Canada, the average age of the Canadian farmer is 55. Yet, often their children aren’t interested in taking over the family business.

The apple business is no exception. Yet, as many independent growers are discovering, changing consumer tastes are opening up new opportunities for niche producers. For apple orchardists, pivoting from selling apples to launching a craft cider brand can be a lifeline for struggling family-run orchards.

  According to Anelyse Weiler, a college professor of sociology at Okanagan College in Kelowna, British Columbia, and a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Toronto, moving into craft cider production opens up new revenue streams and buffers producers from economic volatility in the fresh fruit commodity market—and can be an effective way to entice grown children to consider returning to the family business.

  “Apple farmers face a slew of challenges in their industry, like the toll of the physical labour on their bodies, the increasing consolidation of apple production companies into huge conglom-erates, and the effects of climate change on their crops,” she said. “Moving into cider produc-tion can help farmers maintain their rural lifestyle instead of getting out of it altogether.”

  As part of her dissertation work, Weiler spoke to 100 people working in the Pacific Northwest craft cider industry about the challenges they face. She found most young cider producers she spoke with grew up in the agriculture industry and saw the struggles their parents faced.

  “For a lot of young people who had grown up on farms, they could observe not only the eco-nomic volatility but the emotional stress put on their parents’ generation and, frankly, the phys-ical cost of being a full-time farmer,” Weiler said. “For some of them, there was no romanticism that went into this idea of farming. They went into it with eyes wide open, and in many cases, wanted to maintain some sort of connection to agriculture, but on their own terms.”

  Weiler said mid-sized farms are finding it more difficult than ever to eke out a profit. Yet smaller farms have more opportunities to sell their products directly to consumers through farmer’s markets, farm tourism, local distribution to restaurants and via online marketing. Sales volume may be lower, but customers are increasingly willing to pay a premium for high-quality “arti-sanal” products.

  “A lot of producers face this ultimatum: get big, get out or get niche,” Weiler said. “And craft cider industries are one way for people to get niche.”

  Many young orchardists in the cider business truly value the interactive service components that go into direct marketing and sales, Weiler said. They also enjoy the chance to connect with customers in a direct way that isn’t always possible when just selling fruits to the commodity market.

  “I think it draws on this emerging craft livelihood movement where young people are interested in the creativity, in the sense of being able to put their unique signature on something in ways that farming for the fresh fruit market doesn’t always allow,” she said. 

  Weiler noted that the high cost of farmland in Canada makes it hard for young people without family ties to enter the orchard business. Young people who want to get into orcharding on their own have to get creative, she said. Some have created micro-cideries using windfall fruit or harvesting from abandoned orchards, for example—even using their own labour to pick the fruit.

Cider by the Numbers

  In Canada, cider sales are booming. In 2018, Statistics Canada reported that Canadians quaffed 181 million litres of ciders, coolers or similar beverages per person—the equivalent of 21.5 bottles for every person over the legal drinking age.

  According to research by Euromonitor, the craft beer craze has sparked interest in other small-batch, artisanal food and beverage products, including cider. The amount of cider sold in Canada more than doubled between 2013 and 2018, from 29 million litres to 63 million. Euromoni-tor projects sales could jump to almost 93 million litres by 2022.

  Sales growth in this category over the past 10 years has outpaced wine, spirits and beer in Canada. Cider and cooler beverage sales had an annual average increase of 6.4% over this period, compared to 4.2% growth in wine sales, and 2.8% for spirits and 1% for beer. Sales of imported cider grew faster than Canadian-produced brands, increasing at an annual average rate of 10.2% versus 5.5%.

  Ontario is the largest apple-growing region in Canada, with over 16,000 acres of trees. Accord-ing to the Ontario Craft Cider Association, cider is now the fastest-growing category of alcohol-ic beverages in Canada. Reporting from the government-run Liquor Control Board of Ontario shows that between 2012 and 2019, sales of Ontario craft ciders soared from $1 million to $16.3 million.

  According to Statistics Canada, ciders and coolers represented 4.2% of total alcohol sales in Canada in 2018, with the largest market share in New Brunswick (6.8%) and the lowest in Nu-navut (0.9%).

Key Dates for Canadian Cider Festivals (as of the date of publishing):

•    B.C. Cider Festival (http://bcciderfest.ca/): May 24, 2020: This year’s event will feature over 30 cideries from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The festival is connected with B.C. Cider Week, May 23-31, which includes tasting events and tap takeovers throughout the province.

• Toronto Cider Festival (https://www.torontociderfestival.com/): August 28-29, 2020: Fea-tures live music, artisan market, food, an outdoor fire pit, and of course, a cider showcase and tasting events.

How Craft Beer Producers Can Incentivize Distributors and Wholesalers to Help Them Go to Market

By: Nichole Gunn, Vice President of Marketing and Creative Services, Incentive Solutions

As a craft beer producer, competition is fierce. According to the Brewers Association, there were 7,346 craft beer producers in the U.S. last year competing for $27.6 billion in sales. That’s a lot of beer! And, that doesn’t even take into account competition from “The Big Five” or import beer for shares of the overall U.S. beer market.

  For craft beer producers who are looking to scale and increase sales, it might be tempting to start pouring your marketing funds into consumer marketing. But will that really make a splash? Think of the hundreds of millions in media spend by beer companies every year that you’ll be going up against.

  Could there possibly be a more efficient way to use that marketing spend? For craft beers producers who are trying to go to market, it’s important to sit down and ask yourself, “Who has the biggest impact on whether or not end consumers find my beer? And how can I motivate them to prioritize my business?”

Understanding the Craft Beer Sales Channel 

  When it comes to connecting with end consumers, craft beer producers have four options:

•    On-Site: Selling directly to consumers at your brewery.

•    E-Commerce: Selling directly to consumers online.

•    Retail: Selling to consumers through other retailers.

•    On-Premise: Selling to consumers through bars and restaurants.

  However, on-site sales are limited by geography and e-commerce sales require brand familiarity or extremely creative (or very expensive) marketing. For a scalable sales and marketing strategy, craft beer producers have to turn their attention to retail and on-premise sales and the indirect sales force that helps them achieve penetration with these vendors.

Incentivizing Distributor and Wholesaler Sales Reps

  Outside of smaller, highly localized breweries, most craft beer producers rely on distributors, wholesalers and other supply chain trading partners to market to retailers and restaurants. Distributor and wholesaler sales reps are responsible for selling vendors on the value of your beer, negotiating pricing and terms of sale agreements and ultimately getting your craft beer to market.

  There’s one small problem: no matter how awesome your craft beer is, it only a small fraction of your distributor or wholesaler’s supply mix. In this battle for mindshare, it’s up to you to educate reps about your brand, enable them to sell your product and supply them with a value proposition that inspires them to take action on your account.

  This is where an incentive program comes into play. When many people think of incentive programs, they think about rewards. But while rewards play a big role in building relationships with your channel partners and adding to your overall value proposition, modern incentive programs take a more holistic, software-driven approach.

  Today’s incentive programs act as comprehensive sales and marketing platforms that enable craft beer producers to:

•   Build mindshare with distributor and wholesaler sales reps.

•   Target promotions by qualifying participant type, regions or product line.

•   Fill data gaps within their channel.

•   Enable sales reps to sell their product to vendors.

•   Deepen relationships with partners throughout their channel.

Building Mindshare with Distributors and Wholesaler Sales Reps

  Sales reps, for the most part, sell what they know. However, in a crowded supply mix, building this awareness and product knowledge with sales reps can be challenging. While every supplier wants something from these outside sales reps, far fewer supplier focus on offering value and creating memorable brand interactions.

  Inviting these sale reps to enroll in an incentive program where they have the opportunity to earn millions of rewards or exclusive incentive travel opportunities (and perhaps giving them a generous point bonus upfront) is more than a nice gesture. It’s a strategic differentiator and an opportunity to stand out from your competitors.  

  Your rewards program also creates new opportunities for communication and engagement that aren’t strictly business. These brand interactions are an opportunity to improve personalization and build relationship capital, which can be difficult to achieve in supply chain partnerships.

Targeting Promotions to Minimize Cost and Maximize Return

  It’s worth noting that a channel partner program is an investment. When planning an incentive marketing strategy, craft beer producers need to focus on maximizing the return on their marketing spend. This means that they should target first and scale second.

  For instance, would it make more sense financially to target your program to the sales and brand managers at the distributor level or the individual reps who work beneath them? It depends on your go-to-market strategy and the size and number of distributors you work with. If you sell through smaller wholesalers with a handful of reps, who each are responsible for a significant portion of your overall sales volume, then it might make sense to structure your program to reward individual sales reps. On the other hand, if you’re selling through a number of wholesalers and distributors, or an extremely large distributor with thousands of reps, it might make more sense to target your incentive programs to sales and brand managers.

  Additionally, from those managers and sales reps, craft beer producers can set qualification thresholds, based on sales volume or engagement, to ensure that their incentive program spend is allocated toward the participants who are most impactful to their sales growth.

  Another aspect of your targeting strategy is choosing to set incentive promotions by specific regions or product lines, based on strategic initiatives and opportunities for growth.   

Collecting More Complete Data Throughout Your Channel

  Craft beer producers, like many other companies who sell into a channel, often struggle with having inaccurate and incomplete data about their channel. Your incentive program is an opportunity to motivate distributors and wholesalers to provide more complete data. There are several ways craft beer producers can use their incentive program to fill in gaps in channel data:

•   Structuring enrollment forms that capture contact information and firmographic data during program registration.

•   Including automated tools for sales reps to attach invoices or other documents as part of the program’s sales verification process.

•   Offering rewards to participating sales reps for referring other reps within their organization.

•   Rewarding sales reps for completing voluntary surveys that can be used to clean up your existing database or collect more information about your participants’ interests, demographic and lifestyle.

•   Analyzing engagement datapoints the program generates to spot highly engaged accounts that are ripe for upsells and cross-sells.

  All of this information can be used to inform your sales and marketing strategy and increase the level of personalization you offer your supply chain partners.

  However, all the data in the world is useless unless you’re able to act on it. Modern incentive software includes CRM integration, data filters, reporting dashboards and custom reports to streamline this data for optimal use.

Enabling Your Distributor and Wholesaler Sales Reps

  Do you know one of the quickest ways to build brand preference with an indirect sales rep? Provide quality sales enablement. Using proven strategies to educate sales reps on your brand and your products makes it easy for them to sell your products to vendors.

  Integrating interactive quizzes and training videos with your incentive program is a powerful tool for supplying your external sales reps with the knowledge they need to sell your beer. This education can be supplemented by your incentive program’s digital communication platforms. (If you use this kind of strategy, make sure to break things up into bite-sized pieces and focus on the highlights your partners will need to help you go-to-market). Additionally, these quizzes are another opportunity for sales reps to earn rewards, increasing the overall value proposition of your program.

Deepening Relationships Throughout Your Channel

  Finally, in addition to short-term sales growth and marketing penetration, your incentive program has another benefit that will have a lasting impact on the success of your go-to-market strategy: relationship-building. Non-cash rewards are a social currency that achieve emotional impact and memorability with sales reps at distributors and wholesalers. In addition to motivating sales growth and reinforcing desired behavior, the rewards your program offers create a sense of personalization.

  For craft beer producers, your distributors and wholesalers are more than just conduits to the end consumer. They are your partners – an indispensable part of your go-to-market strategy. Offering your sales reps the opportunity to choose from exciting rewards or treating top performers to unforgettable incentive travel experiences represents the type of brand interactions that will set you apart from the competition. But more than that, these rewards inspire your distributor and wholesaler sales reps to emotionally invest in your brand and take an active interest in your success.

Unsure About Where to Start? Be Smart, Explore Your Options and Focus on Scalability

  An incentive program can be an integral part of a craft beer producer’s go-to-market strategy. However, what about companies who have never used this type of strategy before? If you are interested in creating a channel marketing program for your distributors and wholesalers, do your homework. Identify a goal for your program and the software functionalities you’ll need to achieve that goal.

  Compile a list of incentive program providers who fit your requirements and who have a proven track record, with case studies and testimonials to prove it. From there, begin reaching out to these providers and enlist their help in planning your incentive strategy. Use these conversations to refine your strategy and learn more about what has worked for companies with similar goals and similar distribution channels to yours in the past.

  Once you’ve decided on a provider, you don’t have to go all in. It’s prudent to start small, maybe with a pilot program or highly targeted incentive promotion. You can always scale, once you’ve proven that you can do this successfully.

  However, it’s also important to have a sense of urgency. As craft beer sales continues to grow, so will competition for craft beer dollars. Beating your competitors to building an incentive program for your distributor and wholesale sales reps can be a major competitive advantage. Plus, you owe it to your future customers to help them find their new favorite beer!

  Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing and Creative Services at Incentive Solutions (www.incentivesolutions.com), an Atlanta-based incentive company that specializes in helping B2B companies improve their channel sales, build customer loyalty, and motivate their employees. Nichole Gunn can be reached at ngunn@incentivesolutions.com

Distribution Agreements: Negotiate Your “PreNup” Carefully

Business people shaking hands, finishing up a papers signing. Meeting, contract and lawyer consulting concept.

By: Brian D. Kaider, Esq.

Starting a brewery requires learning a lot of new skills and practices that have nothing to do with making great beer.  One of the most confusing and frustrating is the issue of distribution.  If their state allows, most new breweries initially distribute their own products and, if the brewery is content to be relatively local, that might never change. 

But, in many cases, brewery growth necessitates working with a distributor.  This is not a relationship to be entered into lightly. A distributor becomes an ambassador for the brewery’s brand and, once retained, the supplier may have little control over how its beer is marketed. Further, these relationships can be difficult or financially impossible to break once established.

  Supplier/distributor relationships are governed by franchise laws in most states. In the absence of franchise laws, the relationship is defined entirely by a distribution agreement between the parties. But, even in franchise states, the distribution agreement can play a critical role, particularly in the termination of the distributor relationship.

  Too often, however, breweries accept a distributor’s “standard” agreement and when the relationship sours, the supplier finds that they are stuck with no viable option to terminate. The best practice is to engage an experienced attorney to negotiate the terms of the distribution agreement. While even the best attorney cannot evade state franchise laws (which generally prohibit a distributor from waiving its rights), there are ways an attorney may help bring balance to the supplier/distributor relationship.  Some of the key terms to negotiate include termination, territory, brand scope, and exclusivity.

Termination

  The most critical section of the agreement sets forth the manner and circumstances under which a supplier may terminate the distributor. In a franchise state, the law typically says that a supplier may terminate for “good cause.” If good cause is defined in the law, it is paramount that the distribution agreement mirror the language of the law, because in many cases, a contract that contradicts the law will be held invalid, leaving the supplier in the position of effectively not having an agreement at all.

  For example, the Virginia Beer Franchise Act states that good cause includes “failure by the wholesaler to substantially comply, without reasonable cause or justification, with any reasonable and material requirement imposed upon him in writing by the brewery.”  Further, the Act provides, “good cause shall not be construed to exist without a finding of a material deficiency for which the wholesaler is responsible.”  Tracking that language, a distribution agreement in Virginia should clearly define certain of the distributor’s obligations as “material requirements” and explicitly define certain actions as “material deficiencies.” 

For example, the Virginia law identifies failure to “maintain a sales volume” of a brewery’s brands as being a reasonable and material requirement.  But, the law does not specify what volume is required.  So, the distribution agreement should clearly lay out specific minimum sales volumes (preferably on an escalating scale) and identify the requirement to hit those volumes as a material requirement of the contract. 

  When the law does not define good cause, and in non-franchise states, it is essential for the distribution agreement to do so. The contract should clearly set forth the distributor’s requirements that are critical to the business relationship and for which failure to perform will be grounds for termination.

Examples of common requirements include: meeting specified sales and marketing goals, maintaining appropriate records and reports regarding inventory and sales, transporting and storing the product under specified temperature and lighting conditions, exercising adequate quality control measures to ensure product freshness, and paying invoices within a specified time frame. It is also common to include termination rights if the distributor is declared bankrupt, enters a voluntary’ petition for bankruptcy, enters into a compromise or agreement for the benefit of its creditors, or fails to maintain in good standing all Federal and State licenses and permits necessary for the proper conduct of its business.

  In some cases, sale of the distributor or even a change in the ownership structure may be justification for termination.  In February 2019, Bell’s Brewery of Kalamazoo, Michigan completely pulled all of its distribution in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  The issue was that its distributor in Richmond was sold to a subsidiary of Reyes Beer Division, the largest distributor of beer in the United States.  Per its distribution agreement, the original distributor was to have provided Bell’s with certain information about the sale to Reyes, but it failed to do so and Bell’s believed that because it did not have the opportunity to properly vet the new distributor, termination of the franchise was warranted.  To this day the dispute has not been resolved and Bell’s beer is not available in Virginia.

  In most states, a supplier must compensate the distributor for the lost business even if the supplier is able to terminate for cause.  Sometimes the law simply says the supplier must pay the distributor the “fair market value” of the distribution rights.  There can be an expensive battle just to determine that compensation if fair market value is not defined in the distribution agreement.  Often the value is defined as a percentage of the prior year’s case volume multiplied by some dollar amount per case. The “standard” contracts pushed by some distributors can be very severe in this section. In the beer industry, it is not uncommon to see values set at an entire year’s worth of profits times a multiplier that can range from 1.5 to many times higher. In practice, often a new distributor will buy out the distribution rights from the old distributor, but if the supplier wants to return to self-distribution, this buy-out provision may be cost prohibitive. 

  While the beer franchise laws in most states were written at a time in which large beer manufacturers had significant market power over small distributors, those roles have substantially reversed.  Slowly, state laws are being revised to accommodate this change.  In Maryland, for example, the law changed on January 1, 2020 to eliminate the “for cause” provision of termination for suppliers who manufacture fewer than 20,000 barrels per year and the termination notice was shortened from 180 days to 45.  However, the manufacturer still has to give the terminated distributor fair market value of the franchise.

Territory

  Depending on the size, experience, and reach of the distributor, there may be an opportunity to creatively carve out different territories. Territories are most commonly limited to certain states. However, a supplier may be able to limit a smaller distributor to certain counties or even specific types of establishments (grocery stores, but not restaurants, for example). One of the clearest breaches of the distribution agreement, that may constitute good cause for termination, is for a distributor to make sales outside of its contracted territory. 

Brands

  Generally, when a distributor is hired to carry a brewery’s brand, it has the right to all of the products in that brand. But exactly what constitutes a  ‘brand” is unclear both in the statutory language of most state franchise laws and in many distribution agreements. 

In Maryland’s beer franchise law, for example, “brand” is not explicitly defined, but the law appears to favor the distributor in terms of brand scope. Specifically, section 105 of Maryland ‘s Beer Franchise Fair Dealing Act prohibits a brewery from entering into a beer franchise agreement with more than one distributor for “its brand or brands of beer” in a given territory. One might argue that the language “or brands” means that the first distributor has the right to all brands of the manufacturer in a given territory.

In fact, that very’ issue was litigated in the 1985 case of Erwin and Shafer, Inc. v. Pabst Brewing Co., Inc. and Judge Couch, writing for the panel of The Court of Appeal of Maryland, disagreed. The court held that if a brewery retained a distributor to handle one or more of its brands within a territory, it could not then contract with a second distributor within the territory for those same brands. It could, however, contract with a second distributor to carry a different set of brands.

  How far the court would take its interpretation of what is a “brand” is unclear, however. In the Pabst case, the first distributor was given the right to distribute Pabst brand beers, but Pabst later merged with Olympia Brewing Company and gave the second distributor the right to sell its newly acquired Hamm’s brand beers. Whether the court would have allowed the brewery to contract with one distributor for Pabst and another for Pabst Extra Light it did not say.

Exclusivity

  Even if rights under a distribution agreement cannot be divided by brand (as in the case of the beer franchise law in Maryland), some states may nevertheless allow a supplier to contract with more than one distributor within a territory. If permitted in their state, a brewery should ideally enter into all of its distribution agreements for a given territory simultaneously, providing notice to each distributor. At a minimum, the brewery should ensure that the first agreement entered into is explicitly designated as non-exclusive. Otherwise, the distributor may view the agreement as giving it exclusive rights to the territory and could sue the brewery for diminishing the distributor’s business if it were to engage a second distributor in that territory.

Final Thoughts

  Whether a brewery is in a franchise state or not, it is critical that it review and negotiate its distribution agreements carefully, with the assistance of an experienced attorney. It is also important to remember that the supplier’s diligence does not end when the agreement is signed. No matter how well the terms of the distribution agreement are negotiated and drafted, they are effectively useless if the supplier cannot back up its claims for good cause.

Accordingly, thorough documentation is essential. If a distributor is not meeting sales goals, mishandling product, or failing to provide adequate reports, they must be given written notice of those deficiencies each time they occur.

  There are great distributors out there who become essential partners in a brewery’s business. But, sometimes those relationships can sour and signing an agreement without anticipating complications down the line can make it virtually impossible to sever those ties. A little forethought and planning and a lot of diligence will go a long way toward a successful termination of a bad relationship.

  Brian Kaider is a principal of KaiderLaw, an intellectual property law firm with extensive experience in the craft beverage industry. He has represented clients from the smallest of start-up breweries to Fortune 500 corporations in the navigation of regulatory requirements, drafting and negotiating contracts, prosecuting trademark and patent applications, and complex commercial litigation.

Suds & Soldiers: Beer and World War I, 1914-1919

By: Doran Cart, Senior Curator, National WWI Museum and Memorial

By the time of World War I, which started in 1914, beer was already an ancient beverage made and consumed by most the nations involved in the war. In light of the long history already written about beer, this article will center on the personal, official and period-printed references of beer during World War I held in the archives of the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.

  Many of the early war photographs show soldiers, especially German, posing for their gone-to-war photographs with beer mugs in hand and often sitting on beer kegs. Ceramic beer tankards were illustrated with scenes of soldiers’ service so they could be reminded of what they had gone through while enjoying their favorite brew. A German/Anglo brewery in Tsingtao, China was in production at the beginning of the war and was there when Japanese forces attacked the German garrison taking control. A graphic illustration of that attack is on exhibition at the museum. The brewery still exists.

  Changes in the opening and closing hours of pubs in England occurred during the war when the situation became dire from many of the war industries’ workers spending more time drinking beer and “other intoxicating liquor” than producing artillery shells and airplanes. The Defense of the Realm (Consolidation) Regulations of 1914 specifically prohibited the sale and consumption “on weekdays 12 noon to 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sundays [the same hours].”

  British soldiers wrote in their diaries about beer:

“Hallowe’en was celebrated in our billets – beer, soup, roast beef, plum duff.” A. Stuart Dolden, 1st Battalion, London Scottish Regiment

  October 1916 – “I was amazed to get two bottles of Guiness to drink.” George Coppard, British Machine Gun Corps, after being wounded.

  C.H. Williams, 5th Battalion, the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, British Army, wrote after Christmas of 1916: “We had our Christmas dinner in Albert, France in an old sewing-machine factory.  We had beer for our dinner – plenty of it – and a good tuck-in to go with it!  Roast pork!  Beautiful after bully beef!” [Bully beef was canned processed beef issued as a ration].

  In England in 1918, the Hart Family Brewers produced a commemorative extra pale ale called the “Flyer.” It was brewed to honor Wellingborough, England’s “Own Flying Ace, Major Mick Mannock.” Major Mannock was a Victoria Cross recipient for his World War I actions in which he recorded 61 aerial victories with the Royal Flying Corps (later the Royal Air Force). He was killed over France on July 26, 1918.

  Although the American Expeditionary Forces were technically “dry,” prior to the US 18th Amendment ratified in 1920, enterprising soldiers soon learned where the beer and wine were. One US Signal Corps photograph is captioned: “American soldiers in a captured German trench drinking beer out of steins and smoking cigars.”

  From the papers of Captain Clarence J. Minick, 361st Infantry, 91st Division the following order was found: “Headquarters 3rd Battalion, 91st Division, Sarrey, France, July 24, 1918. Extract General Order No. XXI. 1. “The following regulations for the government of troops billeted in Sarrey are hereby published for the guidance of all concerned: (a) Cafes will be open to troops for sale of light wines and beers during the following hours: 1:30 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. 6:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. Absolutely no drinking of other intoxicants will be permitted and all cases of intoxication will be summarily dealt with. Wine or beer purchased in cafes will be used on the premises and not carried away in bottles or other receptables.”

  At the Battle of St. Mihiel, France, September 1918, this report of the 353rd Infantry Regiment, 89th Division Intelligence Section related:

  “In the evening of September 13, the Regimental observers established an O.P. [observation post] on the high ground south of Xammes. While occupying this O.P. the observers lived on the fat of the land. An abandoned German commissary in Xammes furnished bread, honey, butter, jam, gold-tipped cigarettes and cigars – from the well-kept German gardens in the vicinity came a variety of vegetables – and crowning all, German beer, wine and schnapps were on tap in former Boche (German) bars (for the ‘dry’ All-Kansas regiment).”

  During the American occupation of Germany in 1919 when the rules regarding consumption of beer and wine had been unofficially loosened, Charles MacArthur, 149th Field Artillery Regiment, related that in his [cannon] battery’s stop in Bittenburg, “we ran into real German beer, a little watery for the famine in grain.”  Another discovery was made in Bittenburg:  eierkuchen, or German waffles.  “With a helmet full of flour and a little corn syrup any hausfrau could produce an elegant set of waffles.”  Evidently, the waffles reached such an esteemed place that “the very name of eierkuchen was transferred to anything that looked appetizing, especially young women.”

  A Captain Biggs related that the clothing worn by German civilians seemed serviceable, but that the “shapeless, heavy shoes” was a noticeable feature.  Much of the material was ersatz [substitute], made of paper products.  Beer was plentiful at 20 to 30 pfennings a glass, but “of a poor grade,” as was the wine.

  As part of the agreement for the occupation of Germany after the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918 was one unpopular requirement that all dram shops be closed except during a few hours of the afternoon and early evening.  The sale of any intoxicant except beer and light wines was prohibited.

  A printed announcement of a “Reunion and Smoker” party for the 77th Division’s MP Company on October 25, 1919 at the 77th Division Association Club House in New York City. states that “they will organize an American Legion Post and there will be a keg. Organized by Francis N. Bangs.” Captain Bangs was in the MP Company, 77th Division, AEF.

  A postcard with an inscription, described the outdoor tables in Bourges where the French would gather to drink and socialize, as pictured. Inscription on the back: “the French people like to have this little beer table outside. This is very typical.”

  On a printed card from the YMCA, “The Y.M.C.A accepts no responsibility for money or valuables kept by soldiers during the night. These should be handed for safe keeping to the Leader in charge of the Hut. Overcoats, rifles, or other equipment should be stored in the cloak room. You are urged to leave no articles of clothing or equipment in the cubicle after dressing or about the Hut at any time. By order of the Police, Beer and Spirits must not be brought into the Institute.”

  From the service of Private Walter G. Shaw, 18th Infantry Band, 1st Division. He died at Charpentry in the Argonne in 1918:

  Oct 31, 1917 “I like France fairly Well don’t think I would like to live here always [sic] they have fine roads here. white and red wine can be bought for 1.50F a bottle (30c) some of the soldiers get tanked up on it I don’t like it because it is so sour French people have it with every meal. Champagne can be bought for 9.00F a bottle $1.75 this is extra dry costs about $7.00 in the U.S. Beer costs .30 centimes a bottle 10c….”

 From the service of Corporal Reid Disman Fields, Ordnance Detachment, 13th Field Artillery, AEF:

“Feb. 23/19

Dear Clara:

  No doubt you will be surprised to hear I am going down into Germany. Left Mehnin today 11AM. Am going to the Third army. So far as I know somewhere near Coblenz. So don’t expect I will be back very soon. Tell your mother I will drink her share of beer. Ha! All for the time so Bye Bye, Reid.”

  The roster and menu for Christmas dinner, 1915 from the 133rd Company, US Coastal Artillery Corps, Fort Terry, New York listed that the dinner included oyster stew and crackers, roast turkey, oyster dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, creamed peas, stuffed olives, tomato catsup, celery, pumpkin pie, mince pie, cocoanut layer cake, chocolate cake, bananas, oranges, apples, grapes, figs, cigars, cigarettes, apple cider, and bottled beer.

  From US volunteer truck driver, Ned Henschel, December 8, 1918, Verdun, France:

  “…a rumour floated around that there was beer to found in a neighboring village. Another lieutenant and I walked eight kilometres to investigate – and found that it was all wrong; there wasn’t even Pinard!” Pinard was a red French table wine.

  During the Easter Uprising in Dublin of 1916 of Irish citizens against British rule, the British Illustrated War News of May 10, 1916 reported that British troops took cover behind a barricade of beer barrels.

  One postcard shows a “German concrete cellar used as cooler for beer, in woods, Meuse, France.” A British humorous postcard shows a tent surrounded by flood waters with a downcast soldier poking his head out lamenting “‘Ah! If it were only beer.” A German postcard that a Karl Rosendahl in writing to Frieda Rosendahl of Riemsloh, Germany related: “My dear Freidelchen, We are sitting in the Train with a nice glass of beer and send you greetings.” [translated to English].

  A letter from F. Thunhorst of Riemsloh Germany to Carl Rosendahl, June 3, 1915, related that one of their acquaintances “Old [illegible] is still the same and he just keeps going. The beer still tastes excellent, and he still drinks a few pints daily. He sends his greetings.” [Translated from German to English].

  American Dale E. Girton, Base Hosp. #78 wrote on May 8, 1919,

“Hello Rummy:

  I guess that is a fitting salutation for one who has told me in a – past letter he has started drinking Rum, BEER, Wine & Cognac. How about it? Haven’t heard from you for some time and we are expecting to leave Toul for a port of embarkation at any day now, so I thot [sic] I would write you a word so that if I am quite a while.”

  Beer was universal in WWI. It was used to quench thirst, to enjoy in comradeship, to relax and possibly, to help for a moment, to forget about the horror of war.

  From the Archives of the National WWI Museum and Memorial.

Profiling Software: Used by the Breweries, Cideries, and Distilleries

By: Becky Garrison

As we enter into a new decade, an increasing number of breweries, cideries and distilleries are moving from recording their finances, employee logs and other data from offline pen and pencil accounting methods to online software systems. Here’s a sampling of some of the latest techno-logical developments that are specifically geared towards helping these outfits better manage their businesses.  

ShiftNote

  ShiftNote is an online manager logbook and employee scheduling software. The program, re-leased in 2002, gives owners, managers and employees the ability to communicate in one place. Employees can change their shifts and request time off in a few easy clicks. Then managers can approve or deny these changes and requests.

  The scheduling feature allows users to create and publish schedules and shift notes that can be viewed on any mobile device. Additionally, the manager log book can track key daily sales, re-pair and maintenance schedules, upcoming events and labor stats. As this logbook is entirely cus-tomizable, business owners can add custom categories and stats contingent on their particular needs.

  Help articles, tutorials and free screen share trainings are available for those who need assistance in setting up and using ShiftNote. A major software update slated for 2020 will offer new and enhanced features.

Whiskey Systems Online

  Whiskey Systems Online is a complete production tracking and TTB reporting system tailored to the unique needs of American craft distillers. Launched in 2014, this software offers complete distillery operations tracking, from raw materials to cases shipped out. Features include invento-ry and barrel management, cost of goods sold, manufacturing cost accounting, forecasting and planning, batch tracing, auto-generated TTB monthly reporting and federal excise tax returns, QuickBooks integration, employee task management, TTB audit preparation, success metrics dashboards and much more.

  Whiskey Systems’ propriety hardware interface allows distillers to track the temperature and humidity of their warehouse during a barrel’s entire aging lifecycle. By tying the aging history to their Whiskey Systems barrel inventory, the software can both optimize aging conditions and eliminate manual data entry from a third-party monitoring system.

  In 2020, the company plans on launching a brand new interface to improve the user experience and navigation. The update will include more production planning and forecasting tools and more success metrics and dashboards. As Whiskey Systems is a “subscription as a service,” there are no required downloads, and eve-rything is available via a browser. Users just activate their subscription online for immediate ac-cess. Whiskey Systems has extensive online resources such as training videos and help pages, as well as one-on-one support and set up for no additional charge.

Daruma Tech

  Since 2015, Daruma Tech has been developing mobile loyalty applications for beer guilds. For the more significant guilds and associations, it has a customizable solution that can be tailored to suit their marketing needs. For smaller guilds, the “lite” version can help them get started with their digital loyalty program.

  This loyalty program software rewards consumers for visiting participating locations. App users can keep track of the breweries they’ve been and the places they want to visit next. Users collect stamps at each brewery and claim prizes based on the number of stamps they’ve collected.

  Brewers who participate can access a portal where they manage their content, including location-specific information, beers, events and deals. The app also provides a marketing channel where brewers can communicate directly with their target audience, as well as a social component where users can share their thoughts on different breweries and beers.

  The mobile app is powered by a cloud-based mobile content management system. Participating locations can update the content in real-time through their MCM. There is nothing to maintain, download and install, as it’s also a subscription-based service. A knowledge library where users can access help documents is available online.

  Current guild users of the app are New York State Brewers Association, Ohio Craft Brewers As-sociation, Brewers of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Brewers Guild, Rhode Island Brewers Guild, Connecticut Brewers Guild and the Washington Beer Commission.

  In 2020, Daruma Tech will begin offering these services for other craft beverages and related craft foods.

KegID

  KegID is a cloud-based asset scanning and tracking application that’s been available to brewers since 2001. The software allows brewers to track how many kegs they currently have in use by providing visibility and insight. This application can create accountability by pinpointing the lo-cation of a barrel, its contents and dwell time.  

  Scanning can be done with a variety of equipment, from Android or iOS mobile devices to fixed in-line scanners. In addition to scanning kegs at the brewery, they can be scanned in the field and marked for special handling if any part of it is found to be damaged or malfunctioning. It can al-so identify kegs that are due for routine maintenance.

  Also, KegID is automatically included on any kegs leased through its lease-to-own solution, KegFleet, at no extra charge. Each brand new European keg comes laser-etched with the scan codes and the ID numbers pre-loaded into the application. They are ready to scan and track upon delivery. 

  In addition to online resources, a team of people located in KegID’s Houston-based office are available to provide personal assistance to new users during business hours.

  The app can also be used to manage other reusable assets like pallets and tap handles.    

Kegshoe

  For the past four years, cideries, breweries, distilleries and other craft beverage producers worldwide have been using Kegshoe tracking software. Using either an iOS or Android app alongside Kegshoe’s barcode stickers, producers can track their keg fleets throughout the entire production, storage and distribution cycle.

  The application then offers insights into the status, location and development of a keg fleet, ensuring that turnover cycles are kept in check and kegs are not being lost. Having the reporting and logging tools available to show the contents, location and details of each barrel allows customers to manage their fleet inventory better.

  To make setup and operation as convenient and affordable as possible, the company eliminated the need for additional hardware. Producers can download the Kegshoe app on their devices and start scanning. Other features include rental customer logging and tracking, and production batch assignment and monitoring 

  Kegshoe is currently in the process of releasing a craft beverage-focused customer relationship management software. The CRM will help to provide an industry-tailored system for sales reps and managers to log and manage their customers, sales cycles and productivity. With both desk-top and mobile functionality, it is meant to make the sales process for craft beverage producers as efficient and affordable as possible.

  All new customers receive a series of onboarding materials, including detailed product tours that walk them through the app and desktop software, as well as a support article library. Additional-ly, Kegshoe offers around-the-clock support, ensuring all issues and questions are addressed promptly and don’t interrupt brewing operations.

Small-Batch Maps

  Released in 2019, Small-Batch Maps is designed to help breweries and distilleries better manage their distribution and sales. The company wants to lessen the challenges of market forecasting by helping producers determine if they should market one product or concentrate on all of their of-ferings.

  The software allows potential customers to search for products on a website, and for beverage companies to gain marketing insights, estimate product needs and discover new distri-bution regions. Producers can then use this data to market the products most in-demand, or those with less traction.

  Breweries and distilleries can easily add Small-Batch Maps to their websites and other online properties. Once they’ve added the feature, they can head over to their website, log in, and add new locations as their distribution networks grow.

CIDER: It’s Time is Now

By: Tracey L. Kelley

Photo credit: Kim Fetrow Photography

North American regional and local cider makers are throwing elbows at major corporate producers, trying to respond to consumers’—particularly those in the 18–24 demographic—demands for alternatives to mainstream products. This is good news for producers eager to tap into the young but evolving cider sector. Current market analyses indicate cider sales will dip slightly through 2022, but some experts report this is only because larger, national brands are losing footing as the craft ciders surge forward.

  Nevertheless, there are growing pains within this emerging product line, especially when there’s so much education necessary to help the public understand that cider:

1)  Isn’t beer or wine.

2)  Is just as complex as those beverages, with particular nuances and unique profiles.

  It’s an interesting challenge for a beverage that relies on a fruit with approximately 2,500 varieties in the United States alone. Apples are grown in all 50 states in America, and five of the 10 provinces in Canada. This means regional and local orchardists offer unlimited possibilities for crafters.

To share the knowledge that’s plentiful for wine, beer and spirits, but less so for cider, we reached out to the following experts:

Peter Glockner, co-owner, director, and brewing/filtration sales, Cellar-Tek. The company started in 2004 as a two-person operation in British Columbia, specializing in winery supplies. Now based in both British Columbia and Ontario, it also provides equipment and supplies for craft brewing, cideries and distilleries.

Bill and Michelle Larkin, co-owners, Arsenal Cider House, established in 2010 and headquartered in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, with additional tap houses in Wexford and Finleyville, plus taps in rotation throughout Philadelphia. Another location in Cleveland, Ohio, is scheduled to open by the end of 2019. The Larkins produce hard apple cider, cider-style fruit, grape wines and mead. Flagship pours include Fighting Elleck Hard Apple Cider, Archibald’s Ado Hard Apple Cider, Picket Bone Dry Hard Apple Cider and Murray’s Mead, with various seasonal and one-off releases on tap at each location. Annual production is more than 50,000 gallons.

Molly Leadbetter, owner, Meriwether Cider Company, with two locations in Idaho: a taproom in Garden City and a cider house in Boise—the first in the state. Opening in 2016, Meriwether is owned and operated by the Leadbetter family: Molly, sister Kate, and parents Ann and Gig. Notable award-winning ciders include Foothills Semi-Dry, Strong Arm Semi-Sweet, Blackberry Boom, Ginger Root and Hop Shot, crafted with Citra hops. Annual production is approximately 30,000 gallons.

Michelle McGrath, executive director, United States Association of Cider Makers, based in Portland, Oregon. Its mission is to “grow a diverse and successful U.S. cider industry by providing valuable information, resources and services to our members and by advocating on their behalf.” The USACM also stages the popular CiderCon each year, which provides new and existing members opportunities for workshops, cider tours and networking.

Tie Information to Innovation

  The Larkins started Arsenal with $60,000 and zero working capital in the basement of their city row-house. Bill was an accountant, and Michelle, a pre-school teacher. His winemaking hobby expanded into a passion for cider and mead. “When we started in 2010, there wasn’t anyone doing what we wanted to do anywhere around us. We had to essentially make up things as we went and hope for the best,” Larkin said. “This is why I always tell new people in the Pittsburgh industry to feel free to reach out to me if they have a question.”

  The Leadbetter family, after years in other professions, chose to band together and open a cider house. “My sister, my dad and I all took cider-making classes at Washington State University’s extension program, and Mom took a business of cider class. And webinar-based classes on our specific areas inside the business,” Leadbetter told Beverage Master Magazine. “We also attended the USACM’s CiderCon the years before and after we opened, which was incredibly helpful, and I recommend to everyone!” They launched Meriwether with a Kickstarter campaign.

  McGrath said the USACM strives to provide as much insight as possible. “Our Certified Cider Professional program educates distributors and retailers about cider, but cider makers may gain tools for conversations with those audiences as well,” she said. “We also have marketing resources our members can use to educate their accounts about cider. Lastly, our recently-refreshed cider lexicon project aims to curate a language for talking to customers about cider. Having the same talking points is good for any campaign—including spreading the cider gospel.”

  Refining cider lexicon is one way to lessen the gap between what consumers currently understand about cider and how makers want to communicate flavor profiles and other characteristics. For example, the USACM suggests “focusing on the accepted scientific classifications of apples: sweet, sharp, bittersweet and bittersharp.” There are also grouping categories so consumers can more easily select what taste appeals to them and have confidence in that choice. So the USACM considers input from producers to create classifications that might include something like:

•   Does it taste dry or sweet?

•   Is it tart? Spicy? Sour? Floral?

•   Is it fruit-forward or tannic?

•   Is it light-, medium- or full-bodied?

  This type of universal messaging helps all cider producers continue to create beverages people want. “Don’t make products for yourself unless you’re planning to buy them all, or you are a social media star influencer,” Glockner said. “Know your market and cater production to the customer base(s) you’ve researched and proven will trade their hard-earned money for your product.”

  Progressive success depends on customer relationships—it’s not a cliché when it’s true. “We have a gold standard of treatment for all of our customers whether they’re tasting room visitors or on-premises licensees,” Larkin said. “Everyone in our company in retail, sales and distribution know the customer is always right and that we’ll bend over backward to make them happy. I can’t overstate the importance of this.”

  “We have four core values: family, integrity, generosity and fun. We don’t make any company decisions unless they fit into this framework,” Leadbetter said. “We run a business we can be proud of, that strives to make our community better, our guests happy, and makes our and our employees’ professional and personal lives fulfilling. Working with nonprofits, connecting with the community, and educating people on cider are huge parts of doing all those things.”

  Arsenal Cider House partners with a local activity and tour provider that plans community excursions. Meriwether Cider Company’s approach includes integrative actions such as Purposeful Pours, a quarterly event that raises money for different nonprofits in its community, and Cider Crews, a tiered club program to encourage a dedicated clientele.

Mind Your Business

  The foundational practicalities of your start-up are often a mashup of reality and possibility. So start with the right advice.

  “We always advise an in-person consultation with one of our cider equipment sales gurus to ensure that our potential customers are correctly assessing their equipment choices using the correct data and math,” Glockner said. “We also try to get them to think ahead, so they don’t face having to upgrade their equipment two-or-three years after opening because they didn’t plan for growth. He stressed the need for reinforced vision. “Production plans and projections need to be backed up with solid sales plans and projections. Otherwise, you’ll have an expensive hobby, not a business.”

  He also pointed out there’s no “right” way for cideries to choose equipment. “’Right’ could mean the equipment fits their budget, or it could mean it matches the processing rates they need to achieve for the total volume fruit they harvest. Assuming that matching equipment sizes to the customer’s projected harvest numbers and product plans is the ‘right’ equipment, doing so can minimize the required time to process a given volume of fruit—typically expressed in kilograms per hour of fruit processed,” Glockner said.

  “If one producer is doing multiple small-batch productions of different styles or varietals, their equipment and tank size choices will be smaller than another producer looking to make large volumes of one or two,” he said. “The latter would benefit from equipment with higher throughputs and larger tanks to process bigger batches for longer continuous periods of time. So getting the ‘right’ equipment is all about creating operational efficiencies for the type of production the customer wants to do.”

Here are some additional tips from Cellar-Tek’s Co-owner:

1)  Most equipment for the cider industry isn’t produced in North America, so expect a supplier of specialized processing equipment containing electrical components to have the equipment UL- or CSA-inspected and approved when it lands in North America.

2)  Also, expect to have the supplier set up an appointment at your production facility to start the equipment and provide basic operations training along with any applicable maintenance and safety advice. This tutorial might not be necessary for “basic on/off equipment,” such as manually-fed fruit mills, pumps, or manual gravity fillers.

3)  If you can find used equipment in relatively good condition and see it working before purchase, it may save you capital during the start-up phase of development. However, lack of warranties and local factory support from a supplier makes it a difficult decision when your equipment breaks down in the middle of harvest, and there’s no technical support in the area to repair it quickly. The cost of lost production, spare parts and labor to repair a broken machine can easily surpass the price of a similar piece of new equipment.

4)  If you don’t have experience with fermentation, hire a pro to do it for you, or at least a reputable consultant with a list of references who can teach you the many ins and outs of a successful fermentation. “The pitfalls of fermentation are many,” Glockner said.

  Our experts all recommended allowing an ample amount of time and patience to make it through multiple layers of bureaucracy to establish your cidery. “Cider regulations are incredibly complicated,” McGrath said. “Anybody thinking to jump into the market should take some time to understand how they differ from wine, beer and spirits.” The USACM intends to provide more checklists to help answer producers’ questions, but consult your regional association for more specifics.

  Larkin added, “Many people think the biggest hurdle is getting the liquor license, but it goes way beyond that. There are zoning and building codes, county and state health requirements, general business licensing, taxes etc….To be in any business, you have to be determined and not let anything get in your way. You need to be a jack of all trades. There’s a solution to almost any problem—you just have to keep on it. You’ll get through it.”

  Leadbetter also pointed to the need for fluidity in your business approach. “We still have our original lineup of year-round flagships, but we added many seasonals, one-offs, barrel-aged and small batches to the mix every year—much more than I thought we would,” she said. “And we never envisioned having a second Meriwether retail location when we started. Truthfully, at the time, we were barely two years old and not ready to expand. But we felt an urgency because downtown Boise was in the midst of a renaissance with new businesses and bars, and we lucked into the perfect space. We might have balked and given up if not for that.”

  Larkin said, “If an opportunity seems like a good one and we can afford it, we do it.” This approach applies to both Arsenal’s stair-stepped location expansion and shifting model.

  “When we first opened, we planned to sell half our inventory by refillable growler and the other half by bottle conditioning in Champagne bottles. We sold through the initial inventory so fast, we never had the opportunity to do any type of packaging, and we’ve just been trying to keep up all these years,” he said. “We finally started canning one product and bottling a mead product for the first time after eight years in 2019. We now have the capacity to expand our product offerings and plan to do so in 2020.  It only took 10 years to get to it!” 

  McGrath told Beverage Master Magazine that “there are certain pockets of the cider market managing to make apple-forward ciders cool. That’s always been a challenge, especially in today’s craft beer culture. It’s controversial, but I think putting these types of ciders in cans is part of what’s helping drive that. It makes a complex, nuanced beverage more approachable.”

  She added that it’s important to “figure out how to incorporate educating consumers about apples into your marketing and branding. Apples are what this industry is all about. We can celebrate a diverse range of products and styles, but when consumers catch on to the variation an apple variety (and season) can provide, it will be good for cider makers and orchardists alike.”

Expanding the Industry

  All of our experts are excited to contribute to the reawakening of this pioneer beverage. Here are some final thoughts they believe about cider’s potential.

  Cellar-Tek’s Glockner: “By far the most exciting trend is the growing global acceptance of locally-made craft beverages—be it cider, wine, beer or spirits—by the sectors of the general public that used to gravitate to the large, corporate-produced beverages.”

  Larkin of Arsenal Cider House: “High-quality products aren’t optional. It’s not just important for your business, but the business segment as a whole, especially in one as young as mead and cider. This philosophy extends to how we source our ingredients, as well. If care isn’t taken with raw materials, we can tell.”

  Leadbetter of Meriwether Cider Company: “After creating a good product, our main mission is to create what Danny Meyers (restauranteur and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group in New York City) calls ‘enlightened hospitality’: ‘treat your employees well, and they will take care of your customers.’”

  McGrath of the United States Association of Cider Makers: “Most people who love cider also love food, and the consumer knowledge that cider pairs really well with food is increasing. Regional cuisine cider-pairings, geographical cider cultures, a focus on locally-celebrated apples (like Gravenstein for Sonoma County in California)—these things all make it a really fun time to create cider right now.”