Evidence That Craft Brewers Have A LOOONG Way to Go

Over the next few days, I plan to comment on the InBev/A-B deal and what it means for the future of American brewing. And of course I’ll discuss its impact on craft brewing.

But here’s one thing I know: craft brewers aren’t getting their message out. (If they were, they’d have at least 20% of the market by now.) How do I know that? Well, see above: they own just a tiny share of the overall market. Yes, it’s growing, but the craft brewing is now thirty years old, its share of the consumer market has barely budged since the late 1980s, early 1990s. (*1)

Second, I do a lot of speaking to various groups. The events typically include a beer tasting. I ALWAYS pick local beers made by craft brewers. I try to choose beers made within the state where the event is held, and, if possible, beers made within twenty miles. And it never fails: almost no one — sometimes not a single person — has ever heard of the beers. These are gatherings of smart, educated (and affluent) people. And they’ve never heard of the beers at the tasting.

But here’s more immediate evidence that craft brewers aren’t getting their message (or their beers) across. Check out this piece in today’s Salon. Or, more specifically, check out the comments that readers have posted about the article. Read those comments, and you’d never know that there are 1400+ craft breweries in the U.S. You’d never know that the U.S. has the most dynamic, creative brewing culture in the world. Craft brewers are NOT getting their message across. (More on this over the next few days.)


*1: (Yes, I am aware that the Brewers Association has a small budget, but…. )

One thought on “Evidence That Craft Brewers Have A LOOONG Way to Go

  1. Maureen. Think about the ecomonics of going from about 2.8% a few years ago to 20%. Where would all the capitilization money come from to produce this kind of capacity. Let alone supply issues for these kinds of beers. The average lately has been 12% / year. Some of the smaller packaging brewers are cranking at 20-30% per year. That is very stressful and often puts growing businesses at greater risks because of the dynamics of growing so fast. There’s a lot involved with getting 5% let alone 10% or 20%. Long term I think the industry as a whole would say that 20% is achievable and conceivable. But short term – dangerous and unstable type of growth rates. History speaks.


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