Craft beer in 10 years

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Shagtastic, Apr 17, 2012.

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  1. travMI13

    travMI13 Aspirant (213) Jan 7, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    I am failing to understand how drinking local is a negative "fad" of craft beer. The movement of buying locally-produced products (especially food) has been picking up steam in the past few years, mostly because people are tired of mass-produced garbage. Craft beer, as a consumable product, has just gotten swept up into that

    I don't believe that people honestly purchase bad beer just because it is local. That notion just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

    I'm from Michigan, and you're damn right that I'm going to purchase and support beers from Founders, Bell's, Shorts, and my solid local micro-breweries such as Liberty Street well before brews from other states. I don't see where that is a bad thing.
    jacob4999 likes this.
  2. Bluecane

    Bluecane Initiate (0) Dec 30, 2011 New York

    To be fair, business opening an closing is the ordinary course for most industries. If those breweries were actually in the black overall (and not just for a given month, but if we also include startup costs), then that might change my opinion. But I'm guessing they, like many other businesses, kept open for a bit hoping things would turn around, but when the funds dried up, they eventually had to close doors.
  3. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,459) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    People do purchase lousy local beer. That's a fact. Come to my local Whole Foods and I'll show you over and over. Maybe you were referring to others but I didn't call it a "fad". I think it's more like dogma or a religion.

    If local = best then the overall disagreement doesn't apply at all.

    If your local options are very mediocre or outright poor yet your imported regional crafts are excellent then it makes no sense to me from the consumer's standpoint to abide by some "drink local" principle unless it's some environmentalist or local economy-argument that is behind things. This is exactly what Whole Foods has - an almost religion-like advocacy of "supporting local" and they do it with their beer selection, no matter how lousy the local options are.

    If you don't think locals support bad beer then you should come to AZ or many other cities/states that have a lot of mediocre to poor options. In fact, there's not a single top tier brewery or single beer made in AZ - nothing coveted by beer geeks, nothing of top trade value other than regional imports - Hopslam, Abacus, Bourbon County Stout, Abyss, etc. There are other parts of the country like this as well.
  4. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,459) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    That's going to have to be a major, major change because right now "buying local" is freakin' expensive. Many in the movement lack any understanding of economies of scale.
  5. Shagtastic

    Shagtastic Initiate (0) Jul 30, 2011 Indiana

    I do see the expensive part changing ever so slightly though. The big locals who had a grip on the market are having to change their pricing models because other local breweries are coming in with as good beer for cheaper prices.
  6. SammyJaxxxx

    SammyJaxxxx Poo-Bah (1,753) Feb 23, 2012 New Jersey
    Beer Trader Subscriber

    When the bubble bursts, and it will, a large number of breweries will go away. Unfortunately, the quality of the product will not be the determining factor in who goes away and who stays. The breweries that remain will be the ones with enough cash on hand to whether the burst. It doesn't matter how good the product is. If a brewery is overextended when the bubble bursts, they will not survive.

    Before the bubble bursts, I expect that we will see many more breweries snatched up by the big 3.
  7. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (2,400) Sep 18, 2010 Washington
    Beer Trader

    Two of the "regional imports" you mention are from Illinois and Michigan. Not exactly my idea of buying local. But maybe that's your point re: Arizona beers.

    I see your point about the "buy local" fad—and I do buy most of my German-style beers from German breweries and my Belgian-style beers from Belgian breweries (because they do them best)—but if there's a local beer that's on par with (or even just marginally less good than) a beer that has to be trucked 1,000 miles to sit on my store shelf, I'm going to buy the local beer 9 times out of 10. I just discovered a great American IPA brewed in Victoria, BC (Driftwood Fat Tug) that's probably just about as good as any IPA I've had from Alpine or Russian River. There's another fresh hop IPA brewed just down the road from where I live (Fremont Cowiche Canyon) that I'd put in the same category, can't wait for fall again. Granted these are not the best examples because one is imported (and costs $10 a bomber) and one is seasonal—but I wouldn't discourage anyone from buying local if the quality is there. Doesn't even have to be a top-tier beer; just give local breweries a shot, otherwise how will they ever survive long enough to make a really great beer?

    The "buy local" sentiment might be similar to a dogma or religion, but until recently it's also generally how we've been doing things for thousands of years—so I wouldn't call it a "fad." And shipping the best of everything all around the world probably isn't sustainable, given the current energy/economic/population trends.
  8. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Savant (984) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader


    we have a long way to go till we get to 1870's brewery numbers.

    seriously, the state of craft beer will be dictated by us, the craft beer drinker / enthusiast. as long as we are willing to pay the prices we pay for the beer we drink nobody is going anywhere. right now america is making a push away from not just macrobreweries, but also factory farmed vegetables and meats. people are sick of paying for food that tastes like cardboard, food that is full of antibiotics and questionable fillers, and seeing their money going overseas. here in denver there are alot of restraunts that get all of their fruits, grains, veggies, and meats locally, and their beers and wines as well. i think bashing on the consume local fad is silly. why not put your money into the local economy? i'd rather support a local brewery putting out great dubbels and tripels than the trappist monks in belgium. sorry. and the bad breweries will always fail, i've seen several come and go fron the 90's til today. but if you make a good product people will continue to buy it, no matter what the price. we've all paid way more than we should have for beer we've wanted to try, and i for one will continue to do it because I LOVE BEER...
  9. andylipp

    andylipp Devotee (428) Dec 8, 2006 Massachusetts

    To your point, Massachusetts has seen a bunch of new breweries pop up in the last few years, the vast majority of which are not very good. Don't get me wrong-I'll try them all and give them a fair shake. But unless one is producing something at the quality level and price point I associate with SN, Smutty, Stone, DFH, Left Hand, etc., they won't be seeing the bulk of my beer buying dollars. These previously mentioned breweries are regional/national/successful precisely because they have top quality product at a fair price. And I can't say the same about the brewery down the street.

    Here in MA, besides Pretty Things, Mayflower and a few others, I have little incentive to keep it local.
    yemenmocha likes this.
  10. landhoney

    landhoney Aspirant (274) Apr 19, 2007 Florida
    Beer Trader

    :D Post of the day! Hilarious, especially the bolded/underlined :)
  11. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,459) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    We're exactly on the same page with this. I, too, give the new ones a fair shake. Perhaps several tries in case I got a bad bottle, or a bad tap line.

    But some of this stuff is just f'ing garbage. I wish we still had the old letter grades for beers & breweries because it's clearer to get the bird's eye view and see that some of these are just a line of C's & D's, and that's the overall BA member consensus, not my personal opinion (RB scores are on par). I have no incentive to drink local hoppy beers when I can get Odells, Bell's, Stone, Ballast Point, Alesmith, Green Flash, Port Brewing, and more. I've tried the best AZ has in a blind lineup with my favorite IPA's mentioned above and it sticks out like a sore thumb - a very, very watery standout from the others. No thanks. I'll drink what I think tastes best, regardless of where it comes from.
    andylipp likes this.
  12. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,459) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    Yeah I could have used others for "regional" but you're right - that was my general point, that the stuff in the midwest & west imported into AZ are the big coveted beers on AZ shelves and NOTHING made in AZ has that highly coveted status.

    The "buy local" (whatever you want to call it) has grown in recent years or at least has more vocal proponents, in my experience as well as quite a few others who posted in this thread. In a sense it's also part of the core philosophy of one of our best beer retailers - Whole Foods.
  13. cpinto6

    cpinto6 Initiate (0) Feb 25, 2010 Georgia

    I don't know about in 10 years but in 13(2025), according to many economists it will collapse...
  14. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    I expected quite a few casualties among UK brewers when the recession first took hold but the number of quality cask/craft breweries here actually seems to be gradually growing. So like you said you never know.
  15. cpinto6

    cpinto6 Initiate (0) Feb 25, 2010 Georgia

    No its not, at least not in FL and GA. Funky Buddha pints or w/e their serving size is are like 4 bucks. Also go to a farmer's market, not whole foods and you'll see how local is a good idea. Sure there's a whole foods closer to here than a good farmer's market but if I only drive 15 more minutes to it, my grocery bill gets cut in half. Whole foods rapes you with food costs and I don't think many people see that or know that. There is a general consensus that Whole foods is for "rich people" but you can go to a farmer's market and buy the same thing the rich people are for the price you're getting your stuff at w/e supermarket you currently go to. Also in Miami if you drive south to Homestead to the Mexican market...they're all local farmers and sell everything for a dollar. 4 oranges for a buck...3 avocados for a buck. Trust me, it is cheaper and doesn't need any major change other than people realizing that buying local or even if it isn't local, from big corporations like Whole Foods or fresh market isn't an economically sound idea. Last week I bought a 2lb live maine lobster(obviously not local) for 20 much do you think that would've run you at WF or FM if they even offered it?o_O
    DrAwkward82 and SFACRKnight like this.
  16. cpinto6

    cpinto6 Initiate (0) Feb 25, 2010 Georgia

    Recession wouldn't take out any of the good ones or mediocre ones if the market is still demanding way more than is being supplied.
  17. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (372) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    In ten years, beer will be much improved in consistency of quality, price, and availability, and we'll all refer to 2012 as a lost golden age.
  18. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (372) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    I was all set to sputter and gag at you for this sentiment and then you mentioned "besides Pretty Things, Mayflower, and a few others," and then I thought, "Oh, right. Me too."
  19. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,459) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    I just love Whole Foods because 100% beers refrigerated, and there are no pickup trucks in the parking lot. That is a rarity for Arizona.

    If Farmers markets were open as many hours (convenient) as grocery stores then great. If they had everything the grocery store has so I don't make multiple trips (and burn even more fossil fuels) then great. And of course they're all paying proper taxes on what they sell, I assume.
  20. cpinto6

    cpinto6 Initiate (0) Feb 25, 2010 Georgia

    I agree on the beers, good beer is something these places won't have but even the good wine is considerably cheaper.

    The one here(GA), yea...its 9am to 9pm so I'm guessing your grocery stores don't have more convenient hours unless you shop late at a 24 hour kroger or something like that. They're paying proper taxes here since they accept cards, that would be pretty hard to hide...and its an actual building and everything, very legit. The one down in Miami, not so much its a market on wheels and everything is cash so if I had to bet, I'd bet most aren't paying proper taxes. wouldn't rather go to a farmer's market and buy local and cut your bill in half and then go to WF and get your beer? I'll bet the $ is much less if you add gas expenses.
  21. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (2,400) Sep 18, 2010 Washington
    Beer Trader

    This is pretty much true of Washington as well. We have 150 breweries in the state, but none of them produce anything that has any "hype" cachet or perceived "trade value." Which is actually just fine with me, we do make some pretty damn good beers, it's just that nobody knows about them. More for me!
    It's that no doubt, but it's also a response to rising fuel prices, increasing demand, tomatoes that taste like cardboard, overall homogenization, etc. For some people, "buy local" is a simple mantra that calls for increased simplicity, sustainability, and efficiency across the board. Not a bad thing in and of itself, IMHO.
  22. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    There wasnt really a bubble. Volume of craft sales didnt drop. The number of breweries crashed and burned, but volume flattened out and the survivors expanded to take up the slack.
  23. mintjellie

    mintjellie Defender (630) Oct 2, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    I think as macro sales continue to contract and craft continues to grow, you will see a bigger push to acquire craft breweries from BMC. We might even see "better" beers being brewed within BMC by specialty divisions set up to do so. Molsons has set up a division called Six Points that is in charge of handling Granville Island and Creemore Springs sales, and Six Pints is in the process of setting up offices and a pilot brewery in downtown Toronto that will be open to the public for sampling. I wouldn't be surprised to see them try marketing some of the better received pilot brews when they get up and running.

    Similarly, I know MillerCoors is playing around with things through the Tenth and Blake division - they're expediting shipping on Urquell so it gets to the US faster and fresher, and they plan on refridgerating it the entire way. They're also shipping over unfiltered and unpasteurized kegs for special events. Maybe that will make it out to the public one day? I've read and heard great things about Leinenkugels Big Eddy as well. Didn't MillerCoors also invest in Terrapin? Didn't they even buy out a cidery?

    Unibroue was bought out 8 years ago by Canadian macro Sleemans, which was in turn bought out by Sapporo - they still haven't managed to kill the goose that laid that egg. Unibroue still produces good beer.

    Long story short, big brewing companies will set up internal "skunk works" type divisions at arms length to the company as whole, or buy out craft breweries to act in that capacity, and staff them with people who "get it."

    Unibroue, Magic Hat, Creemore, Granville Island, Goose Island, Terrapin - it's the thin edge of the wedge. Within the next decade, these sorts of investments and buyouts will become the new normal.
  24. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    Where do I think things will be in 10 years?

    Historically, brewery sizes followed the power law. However, for about 20-30 years, this was broken. Its starting to fill in again. I think in 10 years we will be close to following the power law again. Which mean the largest craft breweries are going to have to fill in the gaps under the big boys. Between consolidation, expansion, and the bigs continueing to shrink, I think it can happen.
  25. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    This confuses me. My local options are amongst the cheapest stuff on the shelves. Its the regionals that are expensive. The only big crafty guys that compete price-wise with my locals are Sierra Nevada/Sam Adams/Goose Island.
  26. mintjellie

    mintjellie Defender (630) Oct 2, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    Intersting tangent to the discussion.

    When I look at the grocery store shelves in January, I still see "local" Ontario grown produce. Fruits and vegetables that do well in cold storage like MacIntosh or Northern Spy apples, pears, potatoes, beets, cranberries, and so on. These compete with imported produce like Florida oranges and Mexican strawberries for consumers wallets. If fuel prices skyrocket to the point where no one in Ontario can afford those imported oranges and strawberries, I think it's a reasonable assumption that the market share lost by the imports would be picked up by local produce. Even if we see less variety and selection on the shelves, people still have to eat. Instead of eating the varied diet we've come to take for granted, we would eat more like how our grandparents or great-grandparents ate in the winter - basically, we would eat lots of beets, carrots, and potatoes. We might even supplement this dismal winter selection with preserved fruits and vegetables from other seasons.

    Take away the demand for imports, people will buy more locals. Production will increase to meet increased demand (hopefully!), and local producers will gain greater economies of scale.
  27. patto1ro

    patto1ro Defender (615) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    Totally disappeared. We'll all be drinking lovely cask Mild.
    Chaz likes this.
  28. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,002) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Not so here in SC. It is not at all uncommon to find single 22 oz. local beers, anything from a Koelsch to a Schwarzbier to an IPA, for upwards of $8.99. A 6-pack of Sierra Nevada, Franziskaner, or Spaten Lager is usually $6.99. Somehow I still feel compelled to buy the local stuff...and invariably kick myself afterwards, especially when it's qualitatively not up to SN's or Spaten's standard.
  29. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,002) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Every time I brew a dark mild -- and that's usually every 3-4 weeks or so -- I am more and more convinced of two things:

    1. this style (and the recipe I'm using) might just the the "old friend" beer I've always been looking for; and
    2. mild will likely never become a favorite of the U.S beer geek's just way way too subtle
  30. travMI13

    travMI13 Aspirant (213) Jan 7, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    I guess it might be different if I lived in a state that produced mediocre beer. We, here in Michigan, are lucky in that regard. I think we Michiganders really take pride in the goods (including the beer) that are produced in this state. Craft beer is huge here, so I guess it is difficult for me to picture a state where it is not like that. This is all I know.

    And for states like Michigan, California, Colorado etc. that produce exemplary products of nearly any style of beer you are after, it doesn't make sense to NOT buy local.

    So maybe we aren't so far off after all.
  31. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,459) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    If I lived in those areas I would not only buy local, I'd probably buy growlers much of the time instead. So many great, fresh releases in San Diego via growler. I'm filled with envy.
    Levitation likes this.
  32. Levitation

    Levitation Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2009 California

    this is why i don't bother trading. you want me to pay more for beer i like less? wat.
  33. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Aspirant (284) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    There are plenty of breweries in Michigan putting out mediocre (or worse) beers, you just don't notice them because there's plenty of delicious alternatives available from the good breweries. Seriously, when was the last time you had something from Michigan Brewing Company, Rochester Mills, Detroit Beer Company, or Motor City that rose above mediocrity?
  34. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Aspirant (284) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    We're already seeing mediocre local breweries getting squeezed off the shelves or simply discontinued because they don't sell, and yet there's something like two dozen breweries or brewpubs gearing up to open in Oregon this year. I've also seen a bunch of underfunded and/or mediocre breweries go under in the last 5-7 years: Roots, Tuck's, Karlsson, Elliot Glacier, Liberator, Yamhill, Umpqua, and several probably more that I'm forgetting.

    There are half a dozen more that I don't see surviving the next ten years, but I'm not going to piss off any suppliers by mentioning names. I'll just say that it takes more than a bland ambers and wheat beers (at $5/22oz) to be successful out here.
  35. travMI13

    travMI13 Aspirant (213) Jan 7, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Most of the time, I think it's possible to find 1 or 2 standouts at almost any brew pub. I'm not talking world class by any stretch of the imagination, but solid (not great) examples of a style. Even those that you mentioned, I have enjoyed a thing or 2 from them. MBC: The Celis series. DBC: Baseball Beer (think IPA with leather notes). Motor City: A couple of their perrys. These aren't things that I would search high and low for, but I don't feel bad ordering them if I am out at a bar, and I don't feel bad stopping in to have one if I am in the area.

    If I get a sampler at a brewpub of 4-6 beers, I will usually have at least 1 that I really enjoy and think is a solid example of a style. I mean, do we all really drink nothing but the top 100 or 200 all the time?
  36. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Aspirant (284) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    Of course not, but with so many readily available solid 6pk options from Deschutes, Sierra, Firestone, Ninkasi, Uinta, Bear Republic, and Lagunitas (just to name a few), why would I buy a $5 bomber of something "meh" on a regular basis? Sure, I'm willing to give most places a second (or even third) chance, but after a while I'm going to write them off if I'm not impressed. I suppose the density in Portland skews my perspective a bit, but the same thing applies to brewpubs; why even bother going to a mediocre one when there's something better just down the road?
  37. Levitation

    Levitation Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2009 California

    you don't? o_O i know it varies on location, but i think for a lot of states it's easy to have world-class beer in your regular rotation.
  38. MLucky

    MLucky Initiate (0) Jul 31, 2010 California

    I'm thinking the craft portion of the market will be about twice what it is now in 10 years, but at that point it will begin to plateau. This isn't a bubble, it's a fundamental change in the market place in which a substantial portion of consumers have demanded better quality and more variety, and they've shown they're willing to pay for it. Those people aren't going back to Budlite. The current trendiness of craft beer, though sometimes annoying, serves to ensure that a lot of young people will be exposed, and a substantial number of them are likely to become sophisticated consumers who drink mostly craft beers.

    You'll notice I keep using terms like "substantial portion of consumers." That's because I believe that, in beer as in almost all other products, there will always be a larger market for cheaply priced mediocre stuff than there will be for higher priced, higher quality versions of same. It takes some sophistication to recognize quality, but everyone recognizes prices. Simple as that. My guess--and it's just a guess-- is that craft beer will top out at about 25% of the market somewhere around 15 years from now, and stay around that level for the foreseeable future.
  39. WMEugene

    WMEugene Initiate (0) Feb 3, 2011 Virginia

    Obviously the state of the economy will dictate everything.

    I think what will happen is that the national craft beers (BBC, SN, NB, DFH, Stone, Bells, etc.) will get stronger and, probably due to transportation costs, locals will get stronger as well. The beers that will weaken are regionals without a strong base, mediocre breweries in general and you'll see a lot less uber-rare limited release beers. There is only so many times that someone can spend $10+ for a bottle of beer and drive around all day to find it.

    Which I think will be a good thing. I look forward to being 40 and drinking a great local, craft beer.
  40. ShanePB

    ShanePB Poo-Bah (1,629) Sep 6, 2010 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    You guys are doing too much speculating for nothing. 12/21/2012, anyone? DUH!
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