Monday, August 29, 2016

Economy: Has Craft Beer Peaked?

(Drivebycuriosity) - I like craft beer. There is so much variety. Therefore a headline got my attention: "Craft beer`s looming crisis" (thedailybeast). Lew Bryson, the author, claims that the rapid growth of craft beer has "peaked" and that the craft beer "bubble" will burst. I don`t think so.

I grew up in Germany where the breweries follow the purity rule (Reinheitsgebot wikipedia). German brewers use just barely, hop & yeat and sometimes wheat. I liked the German beers, especially "K├Âlsch" and "Hefeweizen", but there was not much variety.

Now I am living in the US and enjoy the craft beer revolution. Many pubs serve a large selection of specialties and I can discover unknown combinations and explore new tastes: Variations of Lagers, IPAs, Stouts & Ales. Beers with vanilla, chocolate, coffee, mango, grapefruit and more. I can chose between bitter, fresh, sweet, spicy and more aromas.

Bryson claims that "the fact that fruit beers are flooding the market,  is truly a sign of the apocalypse". What is his problem? What is wrong with having a lot of choices? I think beers with grapefruit or mango fit well to a hot summer day, in winter people might chose different seasonal specialties. And people have different tastes. Some people like it fruity, others prefer bitter or whatever.

According to Bryson the craft beer market climbed to about 12% of the whole US beer market. So, the big brewers controll still more than 80% of the market. There is still plenty of space to grow for the craft brewers.



Apparently the author has an aversion against small breweries and against competition. He writes "fortunately, the industry has always had a strong tradition of cooperative competition, sharing information and experience among brands". This smells like collusion and cartels. Do we really need a (near) beer monopoly? The beer market is already ruled by giants like Anheuser-Busch InBev, who owns about 200 brands including Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois & Beck's. Competition is good for the consumers.

The craft beer revolution will go on because the brewers are benefiting from the general technological progress. New technologies reduce the cost of beer brewing and make it profitable to produce small quantities of beer (microbrewing telegraph  wikipedia). And  small brewers are more flexible than the bigger ones and capable to experiment and to try new ways.

There is no reason that the whole market will crash. Some of the experimental beers may disappear, displaced by other more successful experiments.

A cheers to competition and to the craft brewers.

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