Unsurprisingly, many of the most popular BeerAdvocate stories in 2017 focus on hops, while a nearly equal number of popular stories explored the meaning of “craft beer” as Big Beer continued its aggressive takeovers.
A look at the beer industry post-2015, the year that Big Beer acquired successful craft breweries left and right and infused mind-boggling amounts of money into the business. Their plan? Buy more shelf space.
Amid the introduction of hundreds and thousands of new brewers—some small, some unbelievably large—we are witnessing a massive changing of the guard. America’s oldest breweries face a host of challenges ranging from demographics to succession.
Instead of targeting a seemingly endless stream of macro tap handles, as they once could, craft brewers find themselves reluctantly attacking the established marketplace achievements of their so-called craft beer brethren.
We do not hear much about a middle class, those mainly regional brewers slogging it out in the trenches day after day. These mid-sized breweries, which make 15 to 20,000 barrels or more and distribute in only a small number of states, are the bishops and knights of the craft beer chess game, crucial to the industry’s performance.
With all of its successes, this nation of craft beer should not define itself through its larger corporate rivals. It’s time for a new generation of craft beer slogans, focused on promoting the positive characteristics that the industry symbolizes.
Some of the world’s largest brewery companies appear relaxed about their falling sales in established markets because of increasing sales in emerging ones. The trifling fact that even big brands are showing signs of implosion is an inconvenient truth, best left unmentioned. It is just “fluctuations.”