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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

"Can Beer Save America?"

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Figured that headline would snag you.

Writer David Sirota also does morning radio in Colorado and is also a big microbrew fan (in his fridge right now is a 'nitro-dark' craft brew--nitrogen beer without the messy little cannister to open).    Between glasses, he took a clear-eyed look at what's going on between the world's macro-brewers (Budweiser and Miller/Coors) and the little start-ups that keep gaining more space on your neighborhood liquor store shelf.

Sirota asks, "Can Beer Save America" on and the answer would appear to be...yes.   Or, at the very least, it may show how our buying habits are changing, not just for beer but for lots of other products, too.

Macros, Sirota says, don't worry about the beer they crank out but instead market their products based on image and packaging: think cans that change color, or others that you punch a second hole into.   Micros, Sirota says, focus on quality, with virtually no thought given to marketing.   The big brewers want you to drink a 12 pack in a sitting, he says, while the little guys want you to savor your four-pack of double IPA as if it were fine wine.

It's not just beer.  Computers, Sirota says, are another example of consumer willingness to pay more for quality--Apple products, he points out, develop a large and faithful pack of loyal buyers who'll shell out more to get what they think is a better, more reliable device.  Same with cars, as drivers start buying into higher-priced hybrids and electric cars in hopes of seeing savings on gasoline.

In the end, Sirota wonders if what we're in for is a clash between a Macrobrew Economy based on a high-volume/low price model and a Macrobrew one of higher quality and lower volume.   What's going on with beer, computers and cars, he says, dispels the notion that American consumers are what he calls "low price fetishists", even though the parking lots at Wal-Mart remain fairly packed.

All this talk is making me thirsty.   Will it be a Genuine Draft, or a Sprecher?   The fate of the American economy is hanging in the balance.



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