We are nearly a month into the new year and the momentum craft beer gained in 2014 is showing little sign of slowing down. Almost daily, new beers brewed with new unique ingredients are finding their way into new markets and new consumers’ hands. This pattern is perpetuating an increase in demand and overall consumption of artisanal beers vs. those of the mass-produced variety the likes of which the beer industry has never experienced.
Before we proceed with what’s to come, let’s get some perspective. According to the infographic below provided by the Brewers Association, despite an incredible increase in the overall sales of craft beer in 2013, craft still claimed only 7.8% of the overall beer market share. And while the final results for 2014 should undoubtedly show another rise, there’s still an ongoing uphill battle ahead.
Over the past decade, Americans are drinking 40% less Budweiser than they did just 10 years ago. The first thought you may have is these drinkers have transitioned to craft beer as an alternative. However, it’s important to realize that many beer drinkers who grew up on Budweiser when it was at its pinnacle decades ago are now drinking less, or have passed away. The “Bud Man” who may have consumed a six-pack after a long day may cut that number in half, or more, as he ages. This number projected out over a wide customer base is certain to make an impact in overall sales.
Craft beer is also up against the spirits of the world, too. One thing I’ve learned about craft beer enthusiasts is they’re open to variety. This means a percentage of those who love beer will also take time to appreciate wine, whiskey, rum, ciders, and other adult beverages. Nothing wrong with this at all, but it does affect those numbers overall.
That said, there’s no evidence in the air that says craft beer will level off or decline in 2015…and beyond. The overwhelming growth this segment of the beer scene has undergone over the past several years has created an environment of change, evolution, and competition. Yes, craft brewers are in it together when it comes to the battle against big beer. But ultimately, they’re trying to create that one unique product that outdoes their brother or sister brewer.
Again, nothing wrong with that at all.
This competitive environment means all of us reap the rewards via our glasses. Brewers pushing the envelope to put their name on the map and bring something to the market never before tasted means you and I get to enjoy these beers and further satiate our own obsessions. As 2015 hits its stride, you can lay your money down confidently knowing that a beer brewed with something you never fathomed will come down the line and, naturally, work.
This year, expect to see more festivals centered around craft beer. These gatherings are the perfect opportunity for those new to the craft beer scene to experiment and sample various beers outside their wheelhouse, as well as experienced drinkers to further their portfolio with a variety of beers available for consumption. Enjoy all that deliciousness under one roof…and drink responsibly!
2015 will also be a year of continued expansion for established breweries, combined with new microbreweries tapping their first brews for public consumption. Obviously, I’m not going out on a big limb with that prediction, but it’s certainly fun to watch this crazy expansion unfold before our very eyes.
As supply and demand grows, one element that will help substantiate craft beer is the education that keeps beer drinkers informed and coming back for more. My prediction and, even more so, my hope for 2015 is that more establishments begin or continue to provide their patrons with information that helps them understand what it takes to make craft beer and how they can find beers similar to the mass-produced staples they’ve been drinking for years. A consumer gaining knowledge on a particular beer style, how it’s made, and others available just like it can go a long way towards keeping said consumer on the craft beer path going forward.
To conclude, I think the past shall serve as our guide and tell us we are in for another big year in the craft beer revolution. Sales continue to climb, breweries continue to open, and enthusiasts continue to seek out the latest and greatest in craft beer offerings. This blogger is ready to see some big things happen. I truly hope you are, too.
What are YOUR predictions for 2015?! Let us know by dropping off a Comment below!