This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

Why Beer Lovers Should Hate U.S. Drinking Holidays

Stocks in this article: BUDDEOSTZ

The last decade is marked with similar March upticks, with the greatest prompting hibernating revelers in 2006 to up their beer intake from 15.4 million barrels that February to 19.2 million the next month. So that's something, right? That means the plan is working, yes?

Kind of. Despite that big St. Patrick's Day bump in 2011, Beer Marketers Insights found that beer shipments actually fell 1.4% that year. Diageo (DEO), which makes Guinness and should have received the brunt of those St. Patrick's Day benefits, saw its U.S. beer shipments plummet 2.3% that year. Last March, its beer production was off 5% from 2012. Despite a surge in consumption, Diageo-Guinness sales in the U.S. still fell and estimated 0.8%. Granted, Guinness isn't the only beer Diageo's selling, but it's front-and-center on St. Patrick's Day and a big enough portion of its portfolio to warrant the hyphenate name for its beer segment.

Though it's tough to fault brewers and bar owners for trying, especially when Guinness sells more than 3 million pints in the U.S. on St. Patrick's Day after a spate of slow months, that quick St. Patrick's Day surge is giving potential customers one of the worst beer experiences of their lives. The crowds are elbow to elbow, the cups are often plastic, the beer is a foamy one-shot poor and the poor bartenders assigned to work that shift are living their worst nightmare. Bartenders often recall their St. Patrick's Days on the job as an Occupy Wall Street member might describe an encounter with police.

The same misery awaits on Cinco de Mayo, which Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) takeover target and Corona producer Grupo Modelo has basically declared its own St. Patrick's Day. Much as bars serving green beer and playing The Wild Rover every 15 minute have little to do with Ireland's patron saint bringing Christianity to that nation and teaching about the Holy Trinity with the help of three-leaf shamrocks, Mexican chain restaurants that turn their parking lots into fenced, guarded camps of suburbanites downing Dos Equis and munching on tacos have little to do with the Mexican army scoring an upset against French forces in the Battle of Puebla.

It's once again about the beer, and Grupo Modelo has been playing this game and cashing in on this usurped holiday better than anyone. In the past three years, Crown Importers -- Modelo's U.S. distribution joint venture with Constellation Brands (STZ) -- has watched its U.S. sales increase 13% as the U.S. beer market overall reported loss after loss. That said, it's tallied those gains with just about as little dignity as possible.

A jingle in holiday radio ads for Corona used to refer to it as "The Drinko for Cinco de Mayo ." Corona is still regularly attached to holiday events dubbed "Cinco de Drinko" or "Drinko de Mayo." And for what? Back in May 2002, when Cinco de Mayo parties in the U.S. had just swept their way East after years of celebrations by Mexican communities in Western states, Americans drank 19.25 million barrels of beer. During the same month in 2011, they drank 19 million barrels. While there still aren't consumption numbers for last year, when Cinco de Mayo fell on a Saturday, that's not exactly a staggering, game-changing shift.

It's just enough to give Modelo a 5.6% share of the U.S. beer market by letting Americans take awkward, embarrassing and potentially offensive pictures of each other in sombreros, giving them another reason to hate on the French and funneling skids full of its product down their gullets. Now with Anheuser-Busch InBev about to take a controlling stake in Modelo, Cinco de Mayo isn't just a big Corona ad anymore, but a Budweiser ad as well.

At least Jeffrey Morgenthaler's heart was in the right place when the Portland, Ore., bar manager and cocktail writer proposed Repeal Day back in 2006. Positing that drinking holidays such as St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo were exclusionary and somewhat awkward uses of other countries' and cultures' celebrations, Morgenthaler instead suggested marking Dec. 5 -- the day in 1933 when the 18th Amendment prohibiting the sale of alcohol in the U.S. was repealed by the 21st Amendment. It's a date related directly to alcohol and the nation's policies governing it, it's right there in the Constitution for all to see and it has only two caveats to celebrating it: 1. Be 21 or older and 2. Be an American or someone standing in America at the time.

It doesn't even limit the party to beer. Mix up an Old Fashioned, uncork a bottle of syrah or crack open a bottle of hard cider. You're celebrating your legal right to enjoy any of them and aren't favoring any specific company or industry by doing so.

Then again, there's another perfect day for you to do that: any day of the year. Stop waiting for excuses, stop looking for someone to guide your drink choices and just get some people together for a drink already. Nobody will dye a river green or hold a parade for you, but chances are nobody will spill a drink on you, ignore your drink order or try to foist a drink you don't want on you, either.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

RELATED STORIES:



Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
2 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,805.41 +127.51 0.76%
S&P 500 1,964.58 +13.76 0.71%
NASDAQ 4,483.7150 +30.9230 0.69%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs