While many folks are bellying up to the bar at a craft brewery in their taproom, the naysayers are shaking their heads in wonder at the continued rise of popularity for craft beer across the United States. This trend has caused big name brewers to have miniature conniptions for the past decade, as sales of the more mass-produced brews have slid a bit, giving way to craft beer sales. This has caused quite a few craft breweries to be purchased by those big names, in the hopes of regaining sales and perhaps figuring out what this new love for craft beer is all about.
However, each time a craft brewery is bought out, there seems to be a resulting loss of sales to those brews. Is this due to changes in the brews? Is it directly related to the changes in ownership? These questions can only be answered by tasting the brews before and after, which is obviously no longer possible in most cases. The ownership issue may be part of the cause due, in part, to the air of loyalty and dedication that craft beer enthusiasts expect from the breweries they have come to love. When a craft brewery sells out their assets to a big name company, the community seems to hiss in annoyance, as they really do enjoy the uniqueness of each brewery, which is why they left their purchasing of mass-production Brewers in the first place.
Big names like AB-Inbev do gain a bit of insight into the brews that people have come to prefer, but we wonder if they notice the boos and hisses from the sidelines of the craft brewing community each time they acquire another company. Our community is drawn to the outlaws of the brewing industry. The folks that do it their way, for their loyal patrons, and do it with style. Big names have a lot of trouble pulling off this effect, no matter how many commercials they make that try to lure the masses back in.
Here in the craft brewing industry, we have our own “big names” and we think they are great. Names like Funky Buddha, Cigar City, Boulevard Brewing, Founders, and more, who have taken the time to figure out what their patrons really love and shown the drive to create that exact result. It pains us to see a craft brewery purchased by the larger corporations, as that very act seems to diminish the pioneering image of the brewery for us. We’ll keep our big names, and show them all of the loyalty that we always have.
At a time when the world seems to be filled with chaos, people are leaning towards those individuals who are willing to show solidarity, dedication, and a bit of the pioneering spirit that made this country great from the start. That drive is what makes our communities love their local craft breweries, who are often also the driving force in many of their fundraising efforts. Craft brewing has not gained its renown by simply producing off-the-wall brews. It has done so by becoming a part of the community, continuing to show dedication to improving production practices, and, of course, continuing to make outstanding brews that we truly enjoy tasting.
Tell us about some of the outstanding craft breweries in your community! Leave us a comment with the name of the brewery and the brews that you really love on their tap list. Perhaps it will be the inspiration for our next feature post! In the meantime, from all of us at West Palm Beach Brewery and Wine Vault, happy tasting!
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