St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and the beer will flow. Wouldn’t you know it that green beer is not an Irish tradition, but an American-born innovation that requires the beer of your choice and a little blue food coloring? For the beer aficionados, “green beer” is a term brewers still use today to describe beer that’s too young (or “green”) and not good for consumption.
So Who Invented It?
Generally, the drink is credited to Professor Thomas H. Curtin, a physician who made green beer for his clubhouse in New York in 1914, although green beer appeared earlier. In 1910, according to the Spokane Press, the First Avenue Bar served the beer to patriotic Irishmen and anybody else who wanted to drink a green brew.
In the ’50s, the practice grew and green beer was a mainstream symbol of a holiday that was becoming less specifically Irish and more American. The tradition spread across the country, and bartenders caught on that it was easy to make green beer and even easier to drink it. Eventually, the beverage became so popular that it went international, too.
Changing Marketing for the Changing Consumer
Fast forward to 2016 where there are thousands of different beer brands and type. Marketers are scrambling to gain the 10% points beer has lost of the U.S. alcohol-marketing share over the last decade to wine and hard liquor. 1
According to a Boston Consulting Group report titled “How Millennials Are Changing the Face of Marketing Forever,” they don’t respond to the same tactics that separated their parents and grandparents from their money. They desire “personality” in their products. They have less trust in “experts.” Marketing and product releases can’t look, feel or smell like they have in the past. Craft beer settles neatly into this niche. Brewed in small batches in brick warehouses by local artisans who can tell compelling company-origin stories.2
To make serious inroads, Big Beer will have to overcome the perception in the craft-beer world that small is beautiful. When consumers think about craft beer, they think about the people making these beers and then when you think of Big Beers, they think of a big stainless steel, cold, humanless factory. Whatever your choice of beer you like, just don’t take the soul out of their beer. Green or not.
1, 2 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-13/big-beer-s-curious-plan-to-sell-to-consumers-who-mistrust-them