Craft Beer: Trend or Fad?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Jacurdy60, Apr 14, 2013.

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  1. Jacurdy60

    Jacurdy60 Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2013 Massachusetts

    I was reading an article in All About Beer Magazine (sorry, it was not BA, but it was convenient to pick up and I thought hell, why not read another one. Knowledge is power) that said a fad is something that comes top-down and a trend is something that begins bottom-up. In other words, fads seem promising when they are truly ephemeral, whereas trends come from the passion of the people. Craft brew's popularity has seen immense growth in the past few years, and that makes me think: once the market becomes saturated, will us old "beer geeks" suddenly lose interest in beer just because it has become "mainstream?" or is this legitimately a passion we will continue to pursue to the end? I like being different, as no one I know my age appreciates good beer such as I do, but I like to think this is actually a passion as well. I guess time can only tell.
  2. Providence

    Providence Champion (822) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    A quality product never loses its fans just because it has become popular. Look at professional American football or rock and roll. Both of those started as way outside of the mainstream and then they took over.

    The stuff that loses its fan base when it becomes popular is stuff that wasn't that good to begin with, instead it was appealing because it was simply different.

    In short, craft is here to stay.

    With that said, there are certainly fads within craft (like over hoping everything). But hey, having 47,000 IPA's to choose from is much better than having 3 crappy corporate owned adjunct lagers to choose from.
  3. Barrelsnbeer

    Barrelsnbeer Initiate (0) Oct 6, 2012 North Carolina

    i think you will see a bursting of the craft bubble soon, as brewers who arent making things on par with everyone else fall off. im already dropping labels of my shelves because id rather carry things that taste good. craft wont die but there will come a time when the amount of breweries thins out a bit.
    ScottJWing, HighWine, jrnyc and 18 others like this.
  4. YogiBeer

    YogiBeer Initiate (0) May 10, 2012 Illinois

  5. Jacurdy60

    Jacurdy60 Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2013 Massachusetts

    What I'm saying is, along with popularity, I think complacency of the brewers may be a factor as well if their product's consumption base expands
  6. sandiego67

    sandiego67 Initiate (0) Feb 25, 2008 California

    When your hobby transforms into your livelihood, you become a lot more pragmatic and a lot less romantic.

    As a homebrewer, you aren't very concerned about production timing, material costs, revenues, etc. When you have bills to pay, you become very cognizant about looking for ways to cut costs, time and increase revenues.

    As more of these tiny breweries grow out of their infancy and into real production (5000+ barrels), you may see a lot of the romantic "craft" aspects disappearing as they battle for price points, shelf space, distribution, etc.

    We may see a set of hybrid breweries filling the gap between BMC and "craft". They may not be as concerned about bowing to the BA definition of "craft" but rather try to gain market share by being a better version of BMC. Think Sam Adams Boston Lager or Yeungling. If some brewer came up with a West Coast version of Yuengling, I bet it would sell fairly well.
  7. SidSquid

    SidSquid Initiate (0) Nov 5, 2010 California

    I agree with Barrelsnbeer: there's going to be another shakeout like what happened in the 90s. There are too many breweries opening with overly high expectations. If they were mostly aiming to be local operations producing beer for the immediate area, it would be one thing, but most of the new ones seem to want to become fairly big as soon as possible and there's already not enough shelf space for all of them.

    As far as Providence's statement, "A quality product never loses its fans just because it has become popular," that may be true but popularity often encourages a decline in quality as producers lose direction, become geared to the LCD, etc. As an example, the Rolling Stones still have plenty of fans, but does anybody really thing that they're producing music of the same quality they did from 1969-1973. As craft beer has become more of a thing, there have been a lot more OK but unexceptional beers (as well as less than OK) from smaller breweries popping up, which encourages more people to produce the same.
  8. stupac2

    stupac2 Initiate (0) Feb 22, 2011 California

    That's not a bubble, that's just how capitalism normally works when a market hasn't been horribly underserved for decades. Craft is catching up right now but eventually the growth will slow once it hits saturation. But that's not a bubble, it's not even close.

    BLACKENEDPLAGUE Initiate (0) Apr 10, 2013 Ohio

    craft beer a fad? This fad has been around an awful long time
    beernuts, neenerzig and jl28r1 like this.
  10. angusdegraosta

    angusdegraosta Initiate (0) Sep 23, 2010 New York

    The definition of fad as top-down and trend as bottom-up is brilliant. The craft bubble may burst, but I am always more pleased to have something brewed regionally in small batches than something made by A-B InBev and the like. Let's hope that is a trend.
  11. nickapalooza86

    nickapalooza86 Initiate (0) Feb 23, 2010 Wisconsin

    I agree with this, I have been doing the same thing with the beer I buy. There was a time that I would grab a random 6 of something that looked good and get it. But nowadays I have realized I found what I like and spend about 99% of my beer budget on beers I know I love. Some breweries seem to be popping up nowadays with some god awful beers... These breweries will not be here in 10 years, breweries like New Glarus, Bells, SN, Founders, Lagunitas and a lot of other great breweries will stand the test of time due to the consistant greatness of there beers. In other words it is a trend not a fad based on the description provided by the OP.
    craigo19 and sprucetip like this.
  12. DavoleBomb

    DavoleBomb Poo-Bah (2,661) Mar 29, 2008 Pennsylvania

    I like drinking good beer because it tastes good. I don't give two shits about how many other people like drinking good beer or how saturated the culture is. That you like "being different" is great for you, but it makes no sense to me. I like being me and liking what I like regardless of what others do.

    Also, beer may be a passion for all of us who spend hours each week on this site, homebrewing, or making pilgrimages. But, for most craft drinkers, drinking good beer is not a passion, but rather something they do because it's more enjoyable than the alternatives and isn't much different than choosing good food over Burger King or watching Breaking Bad over the housewife shows.
    dedbeer, craigo19 and colty42 like this.
  13. Barrelsnbeer

    Barrelsnbeer Initiate (0) Oct 6, 2012 North Carolina

    good call thats just how i percieved it in my head thanks for the knowledge drop!
  14. WeymouthMike

    WeymouthMike Devotee (460) Jun 22, 2004 Massachusetts

    I agree with this and it can't come soon enough. There is so much crap on the shelves from sub average breweries run by businessmen who think they can charge $8 for a 22oz bomber because someone else is charging $8.
  15. DavoleBomb

    DavoleBomb Poo-Bah (2,661) Mar 29, 2008 Pennsylvania

    I disagree with this. I'd much rather see more entrants into the market before this happens. I also want the well meaning shitty breweries to have the time to figure out why their beer sucks and fix it. When craft does hit saturation, we will lose a lot of breweries that have potential with the ones that are destined to keep sucking.
  16. JoeyBeerBelly

    JoeyBeerBelly Initiate (0) Dec 15, 2006 New York

    just ask Fritz...

    or Ken...​

    fredmugs and airforbes1 like this.
  17. Barrelsnbeer

    Barrelsnbeer Initiate (0) Oct 6, 2012 North Carolina

    this is what i see daily, just because some one else is doing it doesnt mean you have the know-how and skill to do it as well. but with breweries popping up all over the place and focusing on the "hey look at this new beer" market your gonna see a lot of new brewers get skunked. just because you picked up some used kentucky gentleman oak chips and poured your over-roasted coffee and chocolate stout on it, doesnt mean you've just made the next best thing to KBS but people want to charge for it like they did. to many people with money and a dream are gonna find out that it requires talent and luck as well to make it in this game. ill step out on a limb and say in 5-7 years will see a drop off of around %25-35 of these new breweries
  18. Nectar

    Nectar Initiate (0) Jan 17, 2013 New Jersey

    I think it can be summed up pretty easily.

    If someone loses interest in beer because it becomes too "mainstream" they thought they were part of a fad that was actually (and is) a trend. Put even simpler- they were drinking beer for the wrong reason.
  19. Premo88

    Premo88 Poo-Bah (2,146) Jun 6, 2010 Texas


    and I'd add a very long-lasting one.

    spend any time in Texas and you'll see: we're getting serious about this S. and Texas must rank in the teens at best for best craft brewery states.
  20. WeymouthMike

    WeymouthMike Devotee (460) Jun 22, 2004 Massachusetts

    You should'nt be in the business if your beer sucks, you should have a proven product before distributing.
    sprucetip likes this.
  21. DavoleBomb

    DavoleBomb Poo-Bah (2,661) Mar 29, 2008 Pennsylvania

    I totally agree with this mentality if we're talking about toilet seats or wicker chairs, but I imagine there are many breweries out there that are having growing pains that are temporary. I'd rather have a brewery run by someone passionate about beer who wants to put out the best stuff once the technical knowledge and business acumen is acquired than a brewery run by a business man whose products are just good. I don't want tomorrow's star breweries to meet an early death.
    SalukiAlum likes this.
  22. sajaffe1

    sajaffe1 Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2013 Utah

    Trend, the industry has been growing since the 1980's.
    tylerstravis, Kyrojack and craigo19 like this.
  23. HOP_KING

    HOP_KING Initiate (128) Jan 30, 2013 Illinois

    The new brewers that are making average at best products will go bankrupt. The industry is in a boom and becoming over saturated with small breweries just about everywhere. Many wont make it.
  24. Jacurdy60

    Jacurdy60 Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2013 Massachusetts

    I don't do it just because it's different, I'm saying I enjoy the fact that it is. I like being able to do/appreciate things my peers do not or are not willing to do.
  25. fx20736

    fx20736 Initiate (0) Mar 7, 2009 New York

    I'm guessing you will see more buyouts of successful craft breweries by giants like AB Inbev, Miler Coors, etc. which will result in distributors pushing a lot of little guys off the shelves. Companies like Coke and Frito Lay pay Walmart to put their products on store shelves. When that happens to craft beer it will be a brand new ballgame.
  26. sprucetip

    sprucetip Savant (999) Nov 13, 2007 Alaska

    Wow. You just asked if I (we, us) would lose interest in good beer because some others have gained interest in it? No, not gonna switch to beer I don't like, switch to whiskey, or stop drinking the beer I love because other people like it too.
  27. sprucetip

    sprucetip Savant (999) Nov 13, 2007 Alaska

    I thin
    I think you are right. It's been booming big and I can't keep up with all the new ones. And as awesome as it is, how many different well made IPA's is a guy gonna buy in a month? And how many are on the shelves? Don't get me wrong, it's great to have all these options. But I think the number of breweries is increasing faster than the demand is, so there will be more failures in the near future than we have been seeing.
  28. Tashbrew

    Tashbrew Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2007 California

    The nano brewery phenomenon alone will 'cause' the reduction in brewery numbers. Because these 'so-called' breweries for the most part never make a dime on the investment they close quickly or struggle for a year before shutting. Trying to make a living, much less pay bills, or even interest on loans is impossible. In the not to distant future they will go bye bye at a rate of several hundred per year.

    Brewing a few barrels at a time and soley sold over a bar is going to work for a while. Selling it at wholesale with self distribution will seem 'doable' but unable to keep up if product popular...and consistent. Selling it to a distributor
    would be the dumbest thing ever. Busting your hump for pennies while your dist. marks it up 35% plus.
  29. Thickfreakness

    Thickfreakness Initiate (0) Oct 2, 2010 New York

    I completely agree. It's neither a trend, a fad or a gimmick. It's just good beer. Good beer and breweries will survive, and crap will be lost and forgotten.
    djsmith1174 likes this.
  30. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,902) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    Too much mediocre stuff on shelves and mediocre breweries opening up in metros that desperately need a really great brewery or two.

    Whatever the best label is, trend or fad, I find this problematic
    djsmith1174 likes this.
  31. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,902) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    Plus the consumer base for craft a decade ago or more had a significant % of enthusiasts, whereas now it is mainstream general public. I fear how this can change things.
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  32. LankFreudRyte

    LankFreudRyte Initiate (0) Mar 13, 2008 Illinois

    It is a tad friendy, yes?
    iggysoccer20 and herrburgess like this.
  33. cbeer88

    cbeer88 Crusader (716) Sep 5, 2007 Massachusetts

    I vote both.

    I do believe we're in a craft bubble, and I do believe craft is a fad for many, but I also believe we're seeing a sea change in the beer drinking habits of the average person.

    What I mean by this is that craft is growing astronomically, and some % of this growth is going to stay with craft, and some % of this growth is going to move on to wine or whiskey or what have you next.

    It really doesn't need to be one or the other, which is where I think this discussion gets more complicated than it needs to be.
    cavedave likes this.
  34. Tashbrew

    Tashbrew Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2007 California

    You're correct. With Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Lagunitas all set to build(or are building) new breweries with huge capacity(SN and NBB close to 2 million bbls a year. Lag at 800k). Where are all those customers going to come from. Clearly there won't be an expotential growth in Craft Beer drinkers overnight. Nope it's going to be within the market first. So, the Eastern Seaboard is glutted with SN and NBB....what is next...a price drop. If you've got the money to build it surely you have foreseen dropping your price to intice customers(with the added stratedgy of migrating away from smaller breweries located within this region. Survival of the fittest.

    I know the Brewers Association of which I am a member must realize that when these big three go online, and the nano breweries starting to fail in big number, along with a slowing down of more established breweries that there will be fallout. Craft won't go away...never...but the way the game is played will change. The writing is on the wall and Craft has already had a shakeout in the mid 90's(you all remember that don't you?). Though this forthcoming shift in power might get ugly the 'housecleaning' will assure Craft Beers exsistence for another 20 years when I'm sure the cycle will repeat again...
    largadeer, mattbk and hopfenunmaltz like this.
  35. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    Craft beer consumption is in fact, an upward trend. This can not be disputed. Keep in mind an upward trend is not synonymous with trendy which is more closely related to being a fad.

    A fad is something that was hot and faded away into oblivion.

    Craft beer will peak and plateau, but will never fade away in your lifetime.
  36. Mbennett

    Mbennett Initiate (0) Jun 16, 2011 New York

    I got hooked on craft beer about 3 years ago. I remember wanting to try every new big release that came out and spending way too much money.

    Today, I still love craft beer, but I don't feel the need to chase after hyped up beers. I'm more than happy with easily accessible, well made beers. Craft beer is here to stay, but it certainly has a point where its not as exciting as it was in the beginning.
  37. GoblueMS

    GoblueMS Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2009 Mississippi

    Absolute trend. My first micro-brew was Abita. While better then the majors, it lacked true perfection, but it was a step in the right direction. Later I discovered Bell's while living in Michigan, and the list grew...........

    Some will come and go, but the really good products will last.
    devlishdamsel likes this.
  38. GratefulJack

    GratefulJack Initiate (184) Apr 23, 2009 Pennsylvania

    I would think trend much in the same way as when the world discovered excellent California wines in the 70's. I see a parallel with U.S. breweries and U.S. wineries, only the breweries a few years behind. Great beer and great wine, no fad here.
    VABA and GuitarIPA like this.
  39. flyingtoaster

    flyingtoaster Initiate (0) Jun 24, 2007 California

    If craft beer is a fad, then:
    1) Craft drinkers will start choosing BMC
    -not likely since beer drinkers are some of the most loyal type of consumer
    2) Coming of age drinkers will decide for whatever reason to choose BMC over craft
    -possible but not plausible

    I don't think there will come a time when I can't go to the liquor store and grab a bomber of IPA or Stout from the refrigerated section. Craft brewers will get big and merge with each other or with BMC. BMC will push their own craft lines and companies. I think the term "craft beer" will eventually die out, at least among BAs. What will remain popular are the styles that emerged.
  40. Stevedore

    Stevedore Poo-Bah (6,523) Nov 16, 2012 Oregon
    Society Trader

    Do you:

    -Wear thick rimmed glasses?
    -Find yourself saying "I liked _____ before it became cool"?
    -Like to wear a scarf, even when its warm outside?
    -Listen to obscure bands?
    -Watch only indie films?
    -Shop at Whole Foods and eat only organic foods?
    -Eat vegetarian or vegan?

    If you answer yes to 2 or more of the above, you are likely to be a hipster.
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