Although many seem to agree that the craft beer trend is on it’s way out, no one can seem to agree on the exact reason why, or what (if anything) will replace it.
Craft beer found its footing thanks to a variety of factors, notably people’s desire for artisanal products, a dissatisfaction with major label offerings, and the ease of creating small batch brews with favorable regulations for doing so. While beer sales as a whole faced a 1% decline last year, the craft beer market continued to grow, seeing an 8% increase in retail sales.
So, why is everyone predicting the downfall of craft beer? Since the early 2000’s, the number of craft breweries in the United States has more than tripled, which means the market is becoming oversaturated with ‘craft’ beer offerings. So much so that consumers are becoming confused by what the term ‘craft’ even means anymore. And, with macro-breweries like AB-InBev buying out popular craft beer companies to get in on the profit, it seems like craft beer is straying pretty far from it’s origins of offering the consumer something other than the mainstream.
Now that we’ve established motive, all that’s left is to find the Craft Beer Killer. Like an alcoholic game of Clue, industry professionals are speculating wildly; Independent Beer with a sticky label in the grocery aisle, corporate greed with over-saturation in the marketplace, or maybe Pastry Stouts will prove to be the final sticky sweet nail in the craft beer coffin.
Sit back, get a beer delivered to your door, and read on to find out who we think the Craft Beer Killer is, and our prediction on what the hottest new beer trend will be!
WTF is Craft Beer Anyway?
In a world where pretty much everyone is slapping the word ‘craft’ on a bottle and telling to you drink up, it’s important to understand what you’re drinking. The Brewers Association defines craft beer as brews that are small (6 millions barrels or less annually), traditional (no flavored malt beverages), and independently produced (can’t be more than 25% owned by a macro-brewery or anyone other than a craft brewery.).
Is Craft Beer different from a microbrew?
According to the Brewers Association a micro-brewery produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer per year, and 75 percent or more of their beer must be sold off-site. If they sell more than 25% of their beer at the brick and mortar location then they’re considered a brewpub rather than a micro-brew. Unlike craft beer, there are no restrictions on ownership or processing (traditional rather than malt).
Who’s the Craft Beer Killer?
Plot twist; Craft Beer is killing itself.
By flooding an already packed marketplace with an overwhelming amount of choices and then selling out to major beverage companies/distributors after achieving success, craft breweries are contributing to their own inevitable downfall.
Of course, that’s not to say they don’t have a few accomplices. Fickle consumers who demand the next big thing, but return to the comfort of old favorites when presented with too many choices, and macro-breweries and industry giants who buy out popular craft breweries like Goose Island to cash in on the craft beer trend — just a couple that come to mind.
The Future of Flavor
We predict a major return to our roots, in a couple different ways.
As far as flavors, we predict a decrease in heavy lagers and overly sweetened flavored beer like Pastry Stouts. Instead we’ll see a return to very traditionally flavored beer like the bitter German Gose or a New England IPA.
Independent Craft Breweries
As many beer connoisseurs lament the loss of indie breweries to industry giants like AB-InBev, we predict an increase in sales for independent craft breweries.
In 2017 the Brewers Association launched the ‘Independent Craft Brewers Seal’. The seal is designed to help consumers know that they are supporting independently owned and operated businesses. Although not all consumers care, many who have been supporting the craft beer industry since before it was cool were partially doing so to help support small/local businesses. Over 3,000 breweries have adopted the new label so far.
Check out some of our favorite Independent Craft Brewers below!
Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
Bell’s Brewery is a great example of an independent craft brewery that has had a great deal of success while remaining 100% family-owned and entirely independent. Named after a river in MIchigan’s scenic Upper Peninsula, their Two Hearted Ale is brewed with 100% Centennial hops from the Pacific Northwest.
New Belgium VooDoo Ranger IPA
The fourth-largest brewer of craft beer in the nation and the eleventh-largest brewery in the United States, New Belgium sells beer in all 50 states, as well as internationally. And, staying true to their roots, they are 100% employee owned. Their VooDoo Ranger IPA is ‘bursting with tropical aromas and juicy fruit flavors from Mosaic and Amarillo hops’ with a refreshingly bitter bite on the back end.