Beer Blast:The Inside Story of the Brewing Industry's Bizarre Battles for Your Money

Overview

In Beer Blast, Philip Van Munching takes you behind the scenes of the massive, cutthroat, increasingly embattled beer industry. He dissects in colorful fashion all the brewing fads and follies of the past two decades, including the overhyped (and sometimes downright silly) product claims, like "Beechwood Aging" and Coors's "Rocky Mountain water," the would-be fads that fizzled (dry beer, ice beer, clear beer), the weird ad gimmicks (some of which worked), from Spuds McKenzie to the Swedish Bikini Team, and the ...
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Overview

In Beer Blast, Philip Van Munching takes you behind the scenes of the massive, cutthroat, increasingly embattled beer industry. He dissects in colorful fashion all the brewing fads and follies of the past two decades, including the overhyped (and sometimes downright silly) product claims, like "Beechwood Aging" and Coors's "Rocky Mountain water," the would-be fads that fizzled (dry beer, ice beer, clear beer), the weird ad gimmicks (some of which worked), from Spuds McKenzie to the Swedish Bikini Team, and the microbrew revolution now being co-opted by "phony micros" such as Red Dog (really brewed by Miller). Ever wonder how malt liquor became the drink of choice for inner-city gangs? Or how Sam Adams Boston Lager - brewed in Pittsburgh - can get away with its "Colonial heritage" pose? Van Munching knows and tells. The marketing hotshots are squandering hundreds of millions of dollars on hype, fads, gimmicks, and just plain dumb ideas in the ongoing beer wars. And while they're fun to laugh at, anyone in business can also learn from their idiocies. Among the lessons: When launching a new product, think small; beware of minor changes in your quality formula - they add up; don't tinker with a marketing plan that works; and never forget your key ingredient, the romance of the product.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
If the author's name sounds familiar, it's because his grandfather is famous for being the first to import Heineken beer. And freelance writer Van Munching, a veteran of the beer wars as a member of the family concern, here presents a history of beer in the U.S. that will be of interest to those who like to guzzle the brew and also to those who are curious about the business side of the beer world. The author informs us that beer was carried on the Mayflower and that the first commercial brewery in the New World was opened in New Amsterdam (now New York) in 1632. He shows how the introduction of German lager beers in the mid-19th century helped the industry grow and how WWI and the unpopularity of Germany led to Prohibition. He looks at the first "diet" beer, Gablinger's, which was inaugurated by New York-based Rheingold in the 1960s, and how that disaster in marketing strategy led to the successful "lite" beers of the '90s. He examines how Budweiser came to dominate the market; how Schlitz lost market share by diminishing the quality of its beer; the lucrative advertising relationship between beer and sports; and how Coors countered the public's perception of being right-wing and anti-union, -black, -gay and -women. An irreverent, snappy read that goes down like a cool one on a hot day. Author tour. (July)
Library Journal
Drawing on his experience as a freelance writer and corporate spokesman for his famous family's business (as the exclusive importer of Heineken), Van Munching starts off by confirming his college roommate's theory: "Sex is not the dominant motivation in life...beer is." He presents here an entertaining, well-written account of the brewing industry. With the vast array of specialty beers now on the market and increased competition from abroad, beer novelty has become more important than brand loyalty, he notes. No wonder the book reads like a war novel (chapter topics include "preparing for battle," "hand-to-hand combat," and "border skirmishes"), except that these wars take place over the bartop. The author gives us a brief history of this highly competitive industry, which provides valuable lessons in how not to run a business. Another look at the beer industry is Robert J. Burgess's Silver Bullets (LJ 5/15/93). This should be popular in marketing and business collections.Bellinda Wise, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, N.Y.
Kirkus Reviews
An industry insider's account of how B-school grads with no brew experience became the nation's tastemakers.

Van Munching, heir to the importing dynasty that introduced America to Heineken and Amstel Light, begins by tracing beer's somewhat grimy American genealogy. It was favored by the urban working class in 19th-century America, when breweries in New York, Milwaukee, and Chicago, among other cities, churned out a cheap, foamy drink deeply appreciated at the end of the day. From these lowly origins the powerful regional brands (like Coors in the west and Old Style in Chicago) emerged, produced by a handful of family owners. Nostalgic for those halcyon days, Van Munching views the 1970 Philip Morris purchase of Miller as the defining moment in American brewing history, when beer was transformed from an unassuming beverage to a relentlessly marketed commodity on which millions of ad dollars would be spent as a handful of companies fought to dominate the national market. He reveals the beer industry's failed attempts at marketing a nonalcoholic soda and the creation of malt liquor (beer with a higher alcohol content), heavily marketed in urban black neighborhoods. Van Munching has an easy manner and a sense of the hard reality of the business. He also has an ax to grind, bitterly resentful of the wave of MBAs who invaded his family's firm and eventually forced his resignation. While he's a little malicious, the details of recent Heineken ad campaigns are nicely absurd. Van Munching offers fascinating insight into what works and what doesn't work in the beer business; among other matters, he explains why Zima proved to be a costly flop and why the microbrew Sam Adams became an equally spectacular success.

An appealing and often amusing history of a less-than-noble drink, written with style and a genuine appreciation for the good old days before Miller Time went global.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812963915
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/2/1997
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 309
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.13 (d)

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