Beer's Demise Is Greatly Exaggerated

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Todd, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,654) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew

    drtth, eppCOS, DoctorZombies and 14 others like this.
  2. billandsuz

    billandsuz Devotee (406) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    I am pretty sure any journalist who claims beer is dying, the sky is falling and it's all over for beer has not actually been out to a bar in the past decade. These fanciful headlines sell copy though. I think the youngsters call it click-bait.

    Even a casual examination of trends shows there is some shifting within categories but nothing really earth shaking. Craft beer growth is slowing? You mean the segment is not sustaining double digit growth forever? No shit. Liquor sales are up a bit so clearly beer is dying I suppose.

    I just, I mean, I just... I just want a beer.

  3. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (3,556) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    Well worth a read (and it's brief!) with some interesting facts. Based on the Midwest's beer consumption, it seems like it would play favorable host to a Beer Advocate Beer Festival :wink:

    The collective message I receive from the 'craft beer is dying' articles are people trying to play prophet and claim "first" when/if beer does fall into obscurity. This is largely why I ignore these articles and threads now - there is no meaningful content.
    dukeandduke, drtth, eppCOS and 5 others like this.
  4. Shanex

    Shanex Meyvn (1,354) Dec 10, 2015 France
    Moderator Society Trader

    Nah, not dying. The article is American focused and from my limited experience with the new world and based on his stats, there’s no way a beverage that is preferred by a tiny majority will suddenly be surpassed by wine and liquor, which I drink more occasionally too. Cheers to an optimistic piece of opinion.
    drtth and DoctorZombies like this.
  5. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,543) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    This study includes Wine, Beer, Liquor... into which of those categories are ciders, hard teas, and hard seltzers included? Are they left out entirely? Are they considered "beer"?
    SFACRKnight, AlcahueteJ and meefmoff like this.
  6. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,132) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “There are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics."

    - Mark Twain

    As I read (understood) that linked article this is based upon Gallop statistics on preferred alcoholic beverages of people who drink alcohol:

    “Despite slight changes in the type of alcoholic beverages drinkers favor, the proportion of Americans who report drinking alcohol has held steady over the past 20 years at just under two-thirds….

    Gallup measures the amount that Americans drink by asking those who ever drink how many drinks they had in the past seven days. The average number today is 4.0, similar to the figure most years since 2011. That includes the 30% of drinkers who say they had no alcoholic drink in the past seven days.”

    It seems to me that it is more prudent (and accurate?) to measure sales since this does not rely on people telling you stuff. Either beer sales are going strong or they aren’t.

    I would recommend that Bart Watson (of the Brewers Association) has the best(?) handle on the aspect of beer sales (craft and non-craft):

    “BA chief economist Bart Watson joined Brewbound editors Chris Furnari and Justin Kendall in late January to share a few high-level insights, including his projections for 2018 and beyond.

    Based on the data available at the time of the interview, Watson said he expects beer production at BA-defined craft breweries to grow by about 4 percent in 2018, to more than 26 million barrels.

    He also projected that between 7,400 and 7,500 breweries operated in all or part of 2018 and that roughly 1,000 new breweries opened their doors last year.

    “If I had to project for 2019, I would project something pretty similar — about 1,000 openings,” he said.

    Nevertheless, about 3.5 percent of U.S. craft breweries shuttered in 2018, and Watson estimated the number of closures to be about 250.

    That figure would be an increase from the 165 breweries that closed their doors in 2017.

    “We haven’t seen a number spike up into the 500 or 1,000 range and so openings are still going to outpace closings, I think about four-to-one this year,” he said.

    But moving forward, Watson expects the brewery closings figure to rise, and potentially match the number of openings.

    “Next year, I’d probably think 300 or 350, and then a few more the year after that, until we see that opening and closing rate really pull back together like we saw in the late ’90s and early 2000s,” he said.

    LeRose, eppCOS, DoctorZombies and 3 others like this.
  7. Ranbot

    Ranbot Champion (872) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I think it's a good question, but I would not be surprised if the numbers aren't high enough to make a difference. We here tend to hem and haw over ciders, seltzers, and malternatives because it's significant relative to craft beer, but to the alcohol industry overall it may just be background noise.
    rgordon and meefmoff like this.
  8. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,839) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    I don't know - I always thought that Gallup poll was sort of worthless. Asking people what their favorite beverage was? :rolling_eyes: Give me actual hard sales or production figures any day. I think a lot people, especially women, might say "wine" or "mixed drinks" just because they think they sound higher class or more sophisticated, even if the drink more beer.

    Of course, those "hard sales/production figures" or, worse, dollar figures, are kinda worthless when comparing alcoholic beverages given the different typical volumes of the product purchased (fifths of liquor, 750s of wine, 6 X 12oz. of beer) AND the vastly different alcoholic content of each, etc. Even within beer, where the typical brewery's production is measured by barrelage, the higher abv of most "craft" compared to most macro beer (most of which is lower alcohol "light beer") likely means less craft beer is consumed by an individual on average.
    #8 jesskidden, Aug 12, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
    AlcahueteJ, Bitterbill and dcotom like this.
  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,132) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Great minds think alike; as I posted above:

    "It seems to me that it is more prudent (and accurate?) to measure sales since this does not rely on people telling you stuff."

  10. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,839) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Yeah, I took a break there mid-post for a light snack of pickled hot peppers, a cuke and cherry tomatoes from the garden and didn't see your post until after I hit "SEND".:grin: "Damn, look at that - Jack wrote the same thing...ah, whatever. I'll leave it up."
    But per capita beer consumption has been going down since the late 1980s. Looks like it peaked in 1987 at 24 gallons and by 2011 (last year I have handy) it was down to 20.3 gal. But, again, the rise of craft would have some small effect on that, given its higher abv compared to AB, MC and Constellation "5% and under" Top 10 light lagers and light beers that make up over 50% of the market alone.
  11. hottenot

    hottenot Aspirant (231) Aug 13, 2018 North Carolina

  12. BeardedWalrus

    BeardedWalrus Disciple (319) Jun 5, 2018 North Carolina

    Agreed, us Americans didn't invent good beer and it sure as hell won't die because a few mediocre breweries close shop.
    Amendm likes this.
  13. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,543) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    While true, if you only compare the numbers over time in this same survey, the trend data should be useful, even if the actual percentage data is less so.

    IOW, comparing the survey against itself over time contains useful information. Comparing the survey against the same year's sales data, not so useful.
    Amendm likes this.
  14. pat61

    pat61 Poo-Bah (5,595) Dec 29, 2010 Minnesota

    Writers get paid for writing stuff that will sell ink. If everything is OK and everyone knows that everything is OK, you do not sell material that says everything is OK. Likewise, if everything sucks and everyone agrees it sucks you don't get paid for writing about that either. A lot of the recent doom and gloom is based on simple arguments that things are worse than they appear. Most of the doom and gloomers ignore demographics - which Alworth points out, and they grab a factoid and try to extrapolate from a small thing into a big picture. They assume that craft beer is one homogeneous entity as is the craft beer drinker. With out much thought, this group could easily come up with several definitions of craft beer and several definitions of craft beer drinkers that are all going in different directions. Bottom line: beer has been around in many different forms for several millennia in one form or another and it will continue to be and as long as any of us here want to have a beer, we will be able to find a beer that we enjoy drinking.
  15. Premo88

    Premo88 Poo-Bah (1,816) Jun 6, 2010 Texas
    Society Trader

    Yes. 100% agree. I don't visit bars/taprooms often, but everytime I do, it always strikes me how many people are digging good beer these days. The taproom at MacLeod Brewing in Van Nuys (LA) particularly felt like proof that good beer isn't dying anytime soon ... that place was jumping!
    Amendm likes this.
  16. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,065) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Great post, and lots of good stats in there.

    Exactly. Neither the "Craft beer is dying" article or this article really paints the correct picture.

    Craft beer isn't dying, but it also isn't booming the way it was years ago.

    As with most things in life, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. But a title that says that won't generate much discussion or attract "clicks".

    "Craft beer is doing ok" isn't really a catchy title.
  17. errantnight

    errantnight Meyvn (1,206) Jul 7, 2005 District of Columbia
    Society Trader

    Asking people is a good way to help determine why they do something, but not what they do (as you both say).
    drtth and JackHorzempa like this.
  18. islay

    islay Aspirant (285) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    Meh. I wouldn't put much reliance on survey results. There are real sales, tax, and barrelage figures that would be far more telling than the unverified claims of people who bothered to answer the phone.

    I'll also reiterate that the currently active thread about craft beer "dying" is around the notion that craft beer is shifting from its original, arguably essential, purpose as a vehicle for a broad enjoyment of styles both traditional and truly innovative. Instead, breweries increasingly are concentrating their efforts on a few narrow, newer styles that at times are barely recognizable as beer, crowding other fare off the shelves and tap lines. That's about the soul, as it were, of craft beer dying, not the cultural or commercial prospects of craft beer, let alone beer as a whole.
  19. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,978) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Useful data, etc.

    There are, indeed a number of caveats to watch when thinking about the survey, but the basic conclusion, demise is exaggerated, is indeed solid since there are other data analyses and lots of anecdotal evidence that point to much the same conclusion.
  20. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,978) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    No, but the numbers provide a broader context for thinking about Beer.
    Shanex likes this.
  21. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,479) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland

    I saw in 2005 that wine spiked and for a breif moment was more consumed then beer. We can thank that to the movie Sideways that was released in 2004. Crazy how pop culture has such an influence.
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  22. Loops

    Loops Initiate (57) Feb 13, 2014 Missouri

    Great Point
  23. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,270) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Society Trader

    I'm confident beer will outlive the author.
    billandsuz, JackHorzempa and cavedave like this.
  24. Beerbadger55

    Beerbadger55 Aspirant (258) Aug 29, 2017 Wisconsin

    Beer won't die as long as I am alive!