This script is from the second season of Beer Notes, which you can listen to at beernotes.org.
The rumor is that craft beer has reached its peak. Some breweries are closing, beer sales are down and are being displaced by other craft concoctions. Rumors are never good so this week on Beer Notes, we are going to take a look at some facts.
We will have to look at 2018 numbers because that is the most recent data that has been analyzed. Where we have 2019 data, we will reference that as well.
Overall U.S. beer volume sales in 2018 were down 1% BUT craft brewer sales continued to grow at a rate of 4% by volume.
Craft is gaining market share against the overall beer market. For the first half of 2019, the numbers look similar and may even be a little stronger.
Nationally in 2018, 123 micro breweries closed while 724 opened and 90 brewpubs closed while 322 opened. Openings far out-weigh the closings.
Craft beer is clearly not dead, nor is it dying, but it has become a more mature market and craft beer drinkers are looking for quality, innovation, and something new.
Bart Watson from the Brewers Association expects hundreds if not thousands of new breweries to open in the next few years. He believes their success is based on how they can
- Expand into new geographic areas to offer local craft beer where it hasn’t been as available before
- Offer beer styles or experiences that haven’t been available in the chosen market
- Build craft beer offerings that expand the universe of craft beer drinkers. Lower alcohol and lower calorie beers are just some of the innovations that have attracted new craft beer drinkers already.
Bart also thinks that the states that will see more craft breweries closing will be those states where innovation and service take a back seat to simply offering more of what is already there. Slicing the pie in smaller and smaller pieces won’t keep this industry strong.
Visit your local brewery or bar that serves local craft beer and raise your glass to innovation and expansion in the craft brewing industry. For Beer Notes, this is Ann McGinnis Hillyer.