Insights from Drizly’s Top 5 Winter Beer Styles
These top SKUs on Drizly in the beer categories that saw the largest share gain can help inform stocking decisions through the end of the season
After the holiday season, consumers on Drizly have historically turned their attention back to beer, starting in the first quarter, with sales staying steady through the third quarter. Beer, excluding hard seltzer, held a 10 percent share of overall sales in Q1, Q2, and Q3 of 2021, then dropped to a seven percent share of overall sales in Q4.
Exactly which beer styles and SKUs are the most popular varies by season — and the most popular SKUs and styles aren’t always the ones people may expect. Light lager, American-style lager, cider, and dry stout all saw share gains in the first quarter of 2020. That looks similar to the styles that saw the largest share gains in Q1 of 2021, with one notable difference.
“The biggest difference year-over-year was 2020’s gain in lagers versus the gain for IPAs in 2021,” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights. “These were likely driven by the pandemic impact that started in the second quarter of 2020 and shifted buying habits.”
Looking further back to 2019, the styles that saw the biggest share gains in the first quarter were American-style lager, IPA, imperial/double IPA, witbier, amber/Vienna lager, and dry stout.
The markets that over-indexed on beer sales in Q1 of 2021 relative to overall sales on Drizly were Boston, Denver, New Jersey, Chicago, and Baltimore. Drizly data shows that millennial consumers tend to be the primary beer purchasers in the first quarter. The generation holds the highest share of beer purchases, and also has the widest disparity between share of beer sales and share of overall sales on Drizly.
Beer Share (Excluding Hard Seltzer) vs. Overall Share by Generation on Drizly, Q1 2021
- Gen Z: 6 percent vs. 5 percent
- Millennials: 61 percent vs. 56 percent
- Gen X: 26 percent vs. 28 percent
- Baby boomer: 7 percent vs. 10 percent
As retailers make beer stocking decisions for the rest of the first quarter, it can be helpful to look to the previous year for insight into what consumers are most interested in. These are the five beer styles that saw the most seasonal share gains in January, February, and March of 2021.
As one of the most visible beer styles—it has held nearly a combined total of 20 percent share of beer sales on Drizly in the past, and Market Watch notes that IPA holds a nearly 40 percent share of craft beer overall—IPAs are always something for retailers to keep an eye on. IPA’s share of the beer category peaked on Drizly in 2021 in the first quarter at 11 percent share, versus nine percent the rest of the year.
Drizly’s Top-Selling IPAs, Winter 2021
- Lagunitas IPA
- Founders All Day IPA
- Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing IPA
- Cigar City Brewing Jai Alai IPA
- Elysian Space Dust IPA
- Goose Island IPA
- Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA
- Maine Beer Company Lunch
- Night Shift Santilli IPA
- Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
Cider is often associated with the fall months, but consumer interest on Drizly remained elevated in both the fourth quarter and the first quarter last year. Cider share was five percent in the first and fourth quarter of 2021, versus four percent share in the second and third quarters.
The most popular cider brands—including Angry Orchard, Downeast, and Austin Eastciders—held multiple spots in the list of the top five SKUs in the time period, unlike with IPAs where nine different brands contributed to the top 10 SKUs. Boston, Denver, Baltimore, Seattle, and Providence, Rhode Island, all over-indexed on cider sales relative to overall sales on Drizly in 2021.
Higher alcohol IPAs also rose in share on Drizly during the cold months of last year. Imperial and double IPAs peaked at four percent share of the beer category in the first quarter of 2021, versus three percent throughout the rest of the year.
Similar to the diversity of brands seen in the top-selling IPAs list, eight brands contributed to the top 10 imperial and double IPA SKUs. The only brand that made multiple appearances here was New Belgium with its Voodoo Ranger series.
Drizly’s Top-Selling Imperial/Double IPAs, Winter 2021
- Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA
- Bell’s Two Hearted Ale IPA
- Lord Hobo Boomsauce Double IPA
- Voodoo Ranger IPA
- Sixpoint Resin
- Flying Dog The Truth Imperial IPA
- Stone ///Fear.Movie.Lions Hazy Double IPA
- Voodoo Ranger Rotating IPA Series, Agent 77 IPA
- Russian River Pliny The Elder
- Zero Gravity Madonna Double IPA
Share of sales of dark dry stouts, as in previous years, peaked in the first quarter of 2021, driven by the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. Sales share on Drizly peaked at two percent share of the beer category in Q1 of 2021, versus a one percent share the rest of the year. Last winter, the top-selling dry stout SKUs included Guinness Draught, Guinness Extra Stout, Guinness Nitro Cold Brew Coffee, Murphy’s Stout, and Breckenridge Brewery Nitro Irish Stout.
Light and refreshing pilsners may not be the first category that comes to mind when thinking about winter beer styles, but on Drizly the share of sales in the beer category for pilsners rose to two percent in the first and fourth quarter, compared to a one percent share in the second and third quarter. This is could driven by consumers who wish to cut back and seek out lighter beverages after the rich holiday season. Top-selling pilsner SKUs in winter 2021 included Pilsner Urquell, Sixpoint The Crisp, Beck’s, Bitburger Premium Pils, and Carlsberg Danish Pilsner.