We’ve attended many craft beer forums, discussions and round-tables over the last six months, and one subject in particular keeps popping up. “Are we in store for a craft beer bubble?” In other words is the craft beer industry growing too fast, and are we due for an industry crash because of all of the crazy growth and expansion?
The consensus most emphatically is “NO”. Listed below are our reasons why.
1) The Market
The taste for craft beer continues to grow. More and more converts to a well crafted product ensure that the market is growing. This is evident in the number of brewfests that keep popping up each year, and the growing number of attendees that are also on the rise.
Craft beer is not a one-trick pony. The spectrum and variety of beer styles provides beer lovers with so many options that there is truly something for
everyone. Yes, there are still folks out there that remain brand loyal and drink the same thing all the time. These people tend to devotees to the big beer companies. They pick up their case of Bud Light and they’re good for the weekend. Craft beer drinkers love to experiment and explore which broadens the playing field opening opportunities to brew more craft beer.
An increasing number of small craft and specialty breweries are being bought up by the large companies like Miller-Coors and InBev. Business savvy corporate minds see the writing on the wall and effort to buy up market share. In addition, these desperate mega-beer companies increasingly continue to offer brands that disguise themselves as craft beer. Many well-intentioned beer drinkers are unaware that brands like Blue Moon, Leinenkugal and Wild Blue deceptively present themselves as craft beer in order to capture more of this growing market.
4) Local Focus
There is a growing movement spreading throughout the country of supporting small local businesses in their communities. This of course includes beer. People are becoming increasingly aware that buying and consuming beer from their own hometown or region only serves to help strengthen and grow the local economy and create jobs in their geographic area. In fact, some craft beer drinkers will choose specific locally brewed beers for this reason alone.
Despite all the rapid expansion, only the good, well-crafted beers and breweries will survive. As craft beer drinkers grow in their knowledge, and expand their tastes for a high-quality product, the sub-standard beer will fall by the wayside. The most clever marketing and branding efforts can perhaps get you to try a beer once. Not all new breweries opening up these days will make it. The product must be of the highest quality.
Some have posed questions like “What if there’s a hop shortage?” What if high grain prices make craft beer unaffordable?” To this we say; “brewers are artists who love to innovate.” It’s true that hops, malt, water and yeast are the four basic ingredients in beer, but recently there has been as trend toward using ancient and alternative grains, hop substitutes like heather and spruce to create beer-like
alternatives like graffs, guits, cider and meads.
So if you’re expecting the current trend of growth in craft beer to come crashing down, or if you believe that this is just another passing fad, we suggest you consider all of these aforementioned factors. A popping bubble is not the appropriate visual to represent this growing industry. A big foamy head expanding too fast to stay contained and spilling over the rim of a pub glass, paints a much more accurate picture of the state of craft beer.