It’s safe to say that the craft beer industry is not what it was back in 1995. A lot of small, microbreweries started in the mid-to-late 90’s and we’ve seen quite the boom in the last decade. In addition, we’ve seen the industry grow in sales, popularity and even seep into the fabric of contemporary pop culture. And this is only the beginning.
I believe in 2011 we’re going to see even more exponential growth of the craft beer industry, in more ways than one. Thanks to social networking, the craft beer culture is blossoming into a passionate group of individuals who care about what they drink and are willing to support it to the end. This type of passion and viral spread of knowledge is key for a minuscule portion of the total beer market in, especially the US, and abroad. Here are some things I think we’ll see…
It’s no surprise the craft beer industry is on the rise in terms of domestic sales. Multiple reports released in 2010 have proved that craft beer industry sales are up and going strong. And on the opposite end, macrobrewery sales were slightly down in 2010. Don’t let this be convoluted into thinking the craft beer industry is dominating, because it’s not and won’t be for quite some time. The giants that are AB/InBev and MillerCoors will adapt and find ways to remain on top and stay in the game. They’re noticing the sales growth of the craft breweries and they have a game plan to compete — creating their own “microbreweries” — which really aren’t. They slap on a “fake” brewery name, forget to leave their branding on the product and hopefully pass it off as a craft beer to win back sales from susceptible buyers. Probably the most well-known example is the Coors Brewing Company attempting to pass off the Blue Moon products from Blue Moon Brewing Company. FAKE.
Despite the past and present economic conditions, it seems a good majority of Americans hold on to certain “luxuries” in life. For some it may be gourmet chocolates, like Godiva who has seen tremendous sales and growth in the past few years, and others craft beer. It’s no surprise most craft beer costs more than their macrobrewery counterparts. But for those who chose flavor and passion, it’s worth the extra couple of dollars.
Social networking has also helped rope in more craft beer drinkers. The message is easier to spread now than it ever was before. You, the craft beer drinker, get your friends to try craft beer with the hopes they in turn pass it on to their friends. The potential for the industry to go viral is endless — we just need to utilize it to the best of its capabilities. Next year, in conjunction with continually growing sales, we’ll see more drinkers of craft beer, a trend I hope continues to grow.
More Widespread Exposure
If there’s one thing that hinders craft breweries more than anything it’s exposure (and distribution). With the thousands of craft breweries operating in the United States alone, there are some out there we’ve probably never heard of. Unfortunately, they don’t get to benefit from the multi-million dollar ad campaigns run by Miller, Coors and Budweiser. There are no television ads during Sunday football for craft beer.
However, the best step the industry has taken for prime time exposure is with the new series Brew Masters on Discovery Channel featuring Sam Calagoine of Dogfish Head. It’s the first time we’ve seen an entire show dedicated to a craft brewery and that means the industry needs to capitalize. It may be hard to look at the show as nothing but an exposé for Dogfish Head, but I think it’s the perfect opportunity to shine the light on the industry as a whole. Hopefully Dogfish can be the gateway to new drinkers and viewers into other craft breweries.
By no means is this a comprehensive list but it is a collection of some of the things I think we can expect in 2011 for the industry. Fortunately, I don’t think the craft beer industry can go anywhere but up from here. The base of supporters is there and it’s our job to help spread the message, support our local breweries and the industry as a whole. And when we see a new beer blog pop-up, let’s welcome them and help them spread the message. It won’t spread on its own.
Title photo courtesy of: Stephen Lyford
Shane Holland is the Editor-in-Chief for Passion Beer.
He is a self-proclaimed craft beer geek and an all around lovable dork. He loves homebrewing, everything Philadelphia, traveling and enjoying the pleasures of life.