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Has the craft brewing industry hit a plateau?

Our Journey

Just one year ago we had plenty of people saying that the craft brewing industry was going to bomb due to the massive number of new craft breweries opening up every year.  With a flood of boos coming from the mews, we listened to folks complain about everything from quality to the fact that fruit-flavored beer was becoming more popular.  However, has the industry hit that plateau they were so darkly foretelling?  We certainly don’t think so.

The craft brewing industry is still seeing growth

The simple fact is that the industry as a whole is still seeing growth.  Whether that is in the form of new craft breweries opening or older breweries updating their systems, this growth has not stopped.  Sure, things have slowed down a bit, which is to be expected from any booming industry.  However, unlike the California Gold Rush, we do not expect to see a sudden death in the industry as has happened in the past.  That’s the great thing about innovation, it brings forth opportunity and that means more growth as things change and improve.

With quality control becoming a heavier factor for breweries, some things have changed over time.  Equipment is far more innovative, quality is through the roof, and folks are discovering an even greater variety on the market.  However, that very breadth of variety seems to be another thing the naysayers are want to complain about, exclaiming about the lowered shelf sales and estimated higher rate of “outdated” returns.  They claim that craft beer is going bad on the shelf due to market flooding, however, we’ve seen quite the opposite in many cases and some brews simply do not “go bad” the way others do.

Frye's Leap IPA is a great example of what the craft brewing industry can do!What is causing this cloudy view of the craft brewing industry?

Simply put, big business hates to see viable competition taking up the standard and running with it.  Folks get tied up in the classic styles, giving no credit to the inventive nature of great craft breweries like Founders, Funky Buddha, Boulevard Brewing, and more, who have brought more new brews to the table in recent years than the “industry” can seem to keep up with.

Is it the fault of these outstanding craft breweries that bigger names cannot keep up?  Indeed it is not.  By keeping their size fairly small, craft breweries are able to keep overhead down, which means they have plenty of room for creative license in their budgets.  They realize that if they over-expand, they will lose the ability to pop up with new brews as often as they do, which will lead to their loyal patrons going elsewhere for something new.  Why should they cut their creativity and success to make a profit for larger groups that aren’t willing to change?

Will the craft brewing industry continue to see growth?

You’re darn right it will.  New craft breweries are opening up every year.  This is a fact that we truly love because it means more variety, ideas, and collaboration opportunities within the industry.  While others are frowning at the numbers, we’re seeing the potential.  Where naysayers choose to deny possibilities, we strive to create them.  Our craft brewing community is outstanding and we’re more than willing to share a bit of success with others if it means the community will gain something as a whole.  That is exactly what happens every time a new craft brewery opens and folks start sharing their ideas.

We can’t wait to see what the rest of this year will bring for the industry and we hope you’re keeping an eye on things as well.  What do you think about the negative cast being given to the growth in the industry?  Do you like seeing new craft breweries open up?  Do you enjoy stopping in at the taprooms and trying out the great craft brews they have to offer?  Tell us about it in the comments and maybe it’ll become part of our next feature!


Jun 15, 2017