Beer sales have remained on the upswing, although the growth rate has slowed since last year. The category has benefited recently from the sluggish economy and consequent rise in at-home consumption. Brewers have catered to consumer demands with new packaging and flavor innovations. Due to positive response to sample packs, Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob Brewing Co. added a new brew — Michelob Ginger Wheat — to its spring/summer seasonal wheat beer sampler pack. It joins Shock Top Belgian White and other flavors. Retailers have helped by aggressively promoting the category with food-pairing suggestions, and by expanding their craft beer selection, and carrying a variety of pack sizes.
Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, N.Y., has been active in all three areas. For instance, it suggested Irish beer and cheese pairings for St. Patrick’s Day this year. It also helped shoppers plan a four-course beer-pairing party in the winter edition of its own Menu Magazine. The guide paired appetizers, a soup and salad, main course and even dessert recipes with complementary beer. Likewise, the retailer doubled its craft beer selection from about 450 brews to 800.