Bob Pease Brewers AssociationBefore World Cup fever grips the nation, Bob Pease (pictured), chief executive / president of the Brewers Association — a not-for-profit trade body representing small and independent American craft brewers — looks at a very different type of world cup…


The bi-annual World Beer Cup is widely perceived to be the most prestigious beer competition in the world, akin to winning Olympic gold.

The World Beer Cup 2018, held in Nashville, Tennessee, last month, attracted 8,234 entries, the largest amount ever in the
competition’s 12-year history, from 2,515 breweries in 66 different countries, who vied for brewing excellence in 101 style categories that were judged by 295 international experts.

International entries increased by 48% over 2016 (of the 2,515 participating breweries, 807 were non-US), and were made by possible by the introduction of five new consolidation points around the world, in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands.

International brewers sent their beers to the consolidation points and the Brewers Association covered the cost of shipment, moving the beer through customs and taking away any hassle that a non-US brewer may potentially encounter.

The World Beer Cup showcases the breadth of the global craft brewing community, and winning an award symbolises one of the greatest brewing achievements. Congratulations to all UK breweries who received medals in this year’s competition.

Aligned to the World Beer Cup was the Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America, an annual brewing industry event and trade show that attracted nearly 15,000 attendees and featured over 200 speakers covering 77 different seminars across 12 educational tracks. As small and independent craft brewers face unique challenges and opportunities in the marketplace, CBC allows them to connect with their colleagues and ccomrades to share ideas and learn about relevant topics.

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This collaborative spirit is key to the success of America’s small and independent craft brewers as they face real competitive challenges in the marketplace, not least of which is the dominance of ‘Big Beer’ and their acquisition of smaller breweries.

Nielsen research shows that independence resonates with 81% of craft beer drinkers, but Big Beer’s lack of
transparency makes it difficult for the beer drinker to know who is truly independent. So last summer the Brewers Association launched the new Independent Craft Brewer Seal to differentiate independent craft brewers from big multinational brewers and help beer lovers understand who makes the beer they drink.

I’m pleased to report that approximately 3,500 small and independent craft breweries have signed up for the seal to date, representing more than 75% of craft beer volume.

And what of trends? IPA and IPA variants continue to perform strongly, accounting for 36.8% of dollar sales in 2017, which represented a 77.1% share of dollar growth (IRI Group).

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This style continues to expand and diversify, and is less a single style and now more of a platform for innovation. (There were 377 entries in the American style IPA category at this year’s World Beer Cup, more than any other by a long way).

We are also seeing growth in lighter, more sessionable styles, such as blonde ales, Kölsch and lighter sour ales like gose and Berliner Weisse as beer drinkers look to integrate these beers into more everyday drinking
occasions. What’s more, craft beer drinkers who entered the category at its inception 30 to 40 years ago are beginning to age and looking for more ABV options from their favourite brands.

• The 2019 Craft Brewers Conference will be held from April 8-11 in Denver, Colorado, home to the Great American Beer Festival and more than 70 breweries. For a full list of World Beer Cup winners please visit

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