Craft Beer Surges in Popularity

Craft beer has experienced a definite surge in popularity.  In fact, many are likening it to the popularity surge that wine enjoyed several decades ago.  When you add the number of nano breweries now operating to the immense list of micro and craft breweries, you can certainly see an emerging trend.  That trend is growth – and it's set to continue for the long term.  Where might craft beer go, though?

According to statistics, the craft beer industry actually jumped by 12% in value just in the first half of 2010.  The second half of the year marked even more growth – a 9% increase in volume was noted for the overall year.  While those numbers might seem a little bit small, you need to compare it to performance in the beer industry over all.  National and international breweries – those mass-producers of beer – actually experienced a 3% decline in volume during 2010.  Therefore, growth in the craft beer industry is actually pretty significant.  If this industry can experience more significant and lasting growth than the big boys, then it is certainly here to stay.

What might 2011 bring for the craft beer industry?  Most people, including Jim Koch of Boston Beer Co., expect to see more of the same.  The younger generation of beer drinkers is largely credited with the ongoing expansion here.  As more and more 20-somethings adopt craft beer as their drink of choice, sales inevitably rise.  The fact that this is happening all across the nation is still pretty startling, though.  Of course, there were similar trends during the 60s and 70s – wine was the beverage that benefitted then, though.

Breweries are enjoying the side effects of globalization and international marketing, as well.  Once, it was international beers that sold well.  This was largely because people were simply not happy with the lack of taste, selection, body and flavor available from traditional "American" beers.  Today, though, those consumers are finding that local breweries are able to create more taste, flavor and diversity than international breweries.  Therefore, the same principle that once drove consumers to English, Irish, German and other beers is now driving consumers to shop closer to home.  The "buy local" movement has really kicked into high gear with the craft beer industry.

However, it might not all be roses.  As craft beer becomes more popular, retailers will dedicate more and more shelf space to those brands that sell well.  This might be bad news for craft beers that are not able to gain the same popularity.

Posted on January 23, 2011 and filed under The Business of Beer.