Robert Plant, I always thought, was a member of the band Led Zeplin. I recently met a Robert Plant, who gave a splendid talk about the state of beer sales in the on-trade. It turned out it was not the man who wrote "Stairway to Heaven" addressing the seminar, but a "senior account manager" at CGA Strategy, who are rather good at collating market data about the drinks industry. I like them, quite a lot.
Despite his lack of rock fame, Rob did give an entertaining talk on beer and how it was doing in the on-trade. There was a simple distillation1 given of the various sectors of beer including regional cask beer, macro-brewed keg and micro-brewed cask. There was also some interesting facts on performance of various types of licensed outlets. Needless to say the wet only pub wasn't looking like a great business in general.
It seems outlets that "premiumise" are likely to do well. Outlets that provide some form of food offering, Cafe bars and branded food pubs it seems. None of this is particularly good news for the traditional pub lover, but they seem to be getting less in numbers anyhow.
But, the big question I had on my mind was "how does this fit with the Craft Beer sector?" - so I asked it. Of course I expected a reply along the lines of "well, we would first have to define craft beer" - which was indeed the reply given. However, this didn't stop a discussion ensuing on the subject and a suggestion that perhaps knowing a bit more might be nice.
I'd like to think it was my awkward question that galvanised Rob into finding an answer for me. However, I suspect I'm not that important to CGA and they probably have quite a few big customers asking them the same question. You see, we're not even a customer of CGA.
It seems they have some answers. They have been through 1000s of beer brands and chosen some to class as Craft Beer.
The basic facts appeared on twitter a few days ago. I missed some of it, but that's OK because the boys copied it on their blog. Nice chaps. Read about it on the post entitled Craft Beer Quantified
Now, the comments did raise a few eyebrows. "How did you define Craft Beer then?" It's obvious that to collate statistics about a market you have to define it first.
Anyhow, they have sort of defined it, and tell us how on another blog post called Craft Beer Quantified - How did we create the category? Apparently it's annoyed a few folk. Personally I think it's a great attempt. What does the reader think?
In any case it's appropriate that a guy named Robert Plant is looking at how the Craft Beer scene rocks.
1 I'm not sure a simple distillation of any sort of malted beverage is a good idea, really.