Breathlessly, some will announce that craft beer sales in one jurisdiction or another went up 5% or 12% during a generally understood period of time. You see it all the time. It is dreary pointless news but it does fill up the white space on the screen. They should pack it in right now, however, based on this exciting news out of Latvia:
In 2011, Latvian breweries increase export volumes by 70% when compared to 2010, the business information portal Nozare.lv was informed by joint-stock brewing company Aldaris spokeswoman Laura Krastina. ''The tough economic circumstances have forced breweries to improve their financial figures by concentrating more on exporting their products,'' said Krastina. She pointed out that almost 90% of this beer was exported to Lithuania and Estonia last year. On the other hand, the remaining beer was exported to such countries as Ireland, Great Britain, the United States and Canada, informs LETA. According to market data, beer consumption in Latvia in 2010 was at around 70 liters per person. This increased to about 81 liters per person in 2011. Thus, Latvia is nearing the beer consumption levels of Lithuania and Estonia – 83.4 liters and 85.4 liters per person respectively.
Wooo!! Wooooooooooot!!! But that math makes no sense. I have a certain eastern European experience that centered around the phrase "ne problema" which was the response invariable given when things, like this, made no sense. I first heard it at a Toronto consulate when, two days before a flight to a very recently freed Warsaw Pact country, I was informed my passport was not available because it could not... be found. They admitted they received it by courier and - "ne problema" - it would pop up very... shortly... no doubt. I came to learn in my life no longer behind the Iron Curtain that ne problema in such moments usually meant big problema. Taking the situation in control that day at a level that surprises me now, I told the consular staff to show me the mail room and then the office of the person who opens the envelope, and then the next guy and the next. We found it. The passport was in the left hand drawer of the Slavic junk yard of a desk of some middle management guy who sort of sweeped it into the drawer with a bunch of other junk. Problema over.
It is with that awareness that I read of Latvian beer sales increase PR news-like press releases. Or any beer sales increase PR news-like press releases, frankly. I generally think they are written by guys in ill fitting suits who wished they could stop smoking, get a better sort of date, get the right skin cream and did better at the at community college math class.
That all being the case, consider the question of Latvian beer sales. A mere 15.7% increase demanded that the brewers turned to exports as far as Estonia and Lithuania, aka the Baltic bread slices in every Latvian sandwich. To clock a 70% increase in sales. Any chance that what really happened is a big brewery opened or a cross border regulation was amended? Any chance there is little likelihood that the taste for Latvian beer really took off? Any chance that this is just an ad for Latvian gak brewer posing as a news item?