Industry complaining about the opening of new breweries or the bursting of the so-called craft-beer “bubble.” This tired trope about how new brewery openings are unsustainable and how the industry is headed for a sharp consolidation misses the bigger statistics entirely. All seem to ignore corollary stats like the fact that more than 1,000 neighborhood bars have closed every year on average for the past ten years. What we are seeing in the beer world mirrors generally that in the rest of the food world—consumers are increasingly attracted to venues where they can connect with the creators of the things they consume. Breweries with local-first business plans will continue to find success (as long as they make good beer, of course), and while growth will remain difficult for the larger national craft-beer brands due to increasing pressure from the bottom up, that’s not a reflection of the health of the craft-beer segment; it’s simply a shifting dynamic in the business of beer that the companies need to manage. Craft beer will be fine, craft-beer drinkers have better options than they ever have had before in the history of beer, and none of that is going away any time soon.
By Jamie Bogner