How long can the boom last?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Cameroon, Feb 16, 2020.

  1. Cameroon

    Cameroon Initiate (107) Jan 30, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I see that Stoudt's Brewing in Adamstown, PA announced they are shutting down their brewery because (one of several reasons) the abundance of breweries out there now is creating an awful lot of competition to get into stores and bars. In that scenario, profitability will drive out some percent of the total. With more and more craft breweries being bought up by the big dogs, I have to expect an eventual financial fallout that takes down more and more small operations. At the very least I have to believe that we will eventually have added every possible substance to make beer different or possibly reached the point where the hop content approaches toxicity. It may come back to the point where one actually has to make a classic style that is better than everybody else's and be able to sell it at a price that generates sufficient market share. I am caused to reminisce back to the days of the cigar boom that ran from 1990 - 1997. At some point a new fad or change in social acceptability cycles down sales and the hey days are over. Each of us can only hope that when the dust clears, the survivors are the ones we prefer the most. Until then ..... keep your glass full and your lips wet.
     
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  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,385) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Permit me to add one more aspect as regards distributed beer: have fresh beers on the retailers shelves. Over the past couple of year's I had Stoudts beers in my hand but I put them back down on the shelves due to beer date issues. This happened just a week ago when I was at my local Retail Beer Distributor with a 6-pack of Stoudts Golden Helles Lager - that 6-pack was too many months old.

    I have no idea how many other beer consumers check dates before purchasing but I sure do. Drinking (and purchasing for take away) at small, local brewers have the advantage of their beer being fresh.

    Cheers!
     
  3. stairway2heavn

    stairway2heavn Initiate (56) Aug 17, 2017 New Jersey

    Small Brewers- fresh beer (huge advantage given IPA popularity and the lack of shelf stability)... Control over where their product goes (like Carton ensuring refrigeration... Same for Kane). Ballast point, green flash.... There's too many choices and their beer too often ended up on unrefrigerated shelves and probably often in too large a quantity one place and not enough in another, which happens with national distribution.

    Moreover traditional styles like lagers are loss leaders potentially.... Have to be priced lower, take longer to make sucking up space... Only places like tired hands who can absorb the cost for smaller long term profits and the value of variety can easily take advantage. Alternatively a Suarez can do that by being in the
    middle of nowhere and staying relatively small overall while being close enough to NYC to sell some kegs and cans. (They're also quite good which helps obviously.)

    I think you're more likely to see more Brewers expanding their markets like the coffee roasting and seltzers and even wine before you see things look like the early 2000s again.
     
  4. Mr3dPHD

    Mr3dPHD Initiate (194) May 6, 2008 Florida

    Well the one general exception to the rule with "old beer" on the shelf is beer that ages well. Unfortunately, those tend to be beers that aren't as high in demand. (Translation, they aren't IPAs). It would be amusing if twenty years from now the shelf life issue pushed brewers to focus on these types of beers and most of what you see on the shelf is high alcohol stouts, sours, and smoked beers. Highly unlikely, but I wouldn't complain too much!

    That's a shame about Stoudts, I really do like them a lot. It makes sense though. We got plenty of Stoudts years ago here in central Florida, and I can't recall the last time I saw it on any shelves. A few years, at least.
     
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  5. readyski

    readyski Aspirant (258) Jun 4, 2005 California
    Trader

    Agreed. It seems like I need to check 3 - 6 packs before I find one fresh enough. Despite the plethora of choices, only a few are acceptable to me.
     
  6. Cameroon

    Cameroon Initiate (107) Jan 30, 2006 Pennsylvania


    Oddly, as I have been lead to understand, the origin of IPAs was to prolong shelf life of beer being shipped from England to India. I make my own beer and have to say that in my opinion many beers improve with age. Now I know that's a personal preference thing and the acceptable time frame would vary from person to person. Trust an old man, SUPER HOPPED beers will not be a highly sought after style forever. Nothing ever stays in style forever. There will always be a core group of consumers for every style and as that core group gets smaller, the selection becomes smaller. If you train every man and woman to program computers the average wage of programmers will stagnate. Over saturation ruins everything and over saturation will ruin the beer market. In the past there were styles that have fallen in and out of grace. How many Baltic Porters do you see? You now see a lot of sours but where were they twenty years ago? The big boys like INBEV should be able to make great craft style beers that sell at much more reasonable prices than the little breweries can. Are they? They will when they have to.
     
  7. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (7,004) Sep 24, 2007 Liechtenstein
    Society Trader

    I have no idea where you get the idea that Lagers are loss leaders. Draft prices are the same as IPAs, and while package prices may be lower, breweries still profiting from them.

    If Lagers are Loss Leaders, how do you explain Lager-only breweries?
     
  8. Justonemore91

    Justonemore91 Aspirant (240) Nov 24, 2018 New York
    Trader

    Jack's Abby is a favorite of mine. Killer lager biers at a reasonable price
     
  9. BigStein88

    BigStein88 Disciple (303) Nov 5, 2007 New Hampshire

    To me, it seems like a brewery knowing it's place in the market is the big thing. It seems that too many mediocre local breweries try to overshoot their audience and get into the mass market. Everyone loves a decent local brewpub. Sure, maybe they aren't the absolute best, but they are local and fun and can put out fresh beer, who doesn't want to support that? Start canning some stuff on a small scale and still all good, and I would guess profitable. But overreach and try to distro further out where there are a ton of better (or at lest better known) options? Maybe not so much. Too many places seem to take local success as a sign they can get much bigger and that does not seem to work. More places need to follow the Vermont model of Alchemist and others and grow at a pace that is supported and they will be OK. I don't think the idea of drinking locally and supporting local places is going away, more places just need to accept that as a positive outcome.
     
  10. BrewHound601

    BrewHound601 Initiate (51) Jan 30, 2020

    Does Kane sell to stores? Carton is soooo pricey; the salt water beer is indeed good.
     
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  11. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,351) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    I’m thinking the BOOM is long over here, and has been for more than a few years now. Gone are so many iconic beers from so many great Cali brewers, replaced by expensive local beers from breweries I’ve never heard of before. Why is this? I’m going to take a stab at they were slow to turnover because there was a monster glut of beers of the shelf, certainly too many for smaller retailers to maintain at peak condition. So you unknowingly buy an 6 month old ipa from a famous Cali brewery with stellar ratings and it sucks. It sucks because it’s old, pretty simple. Those Cali beers has dwindled down to Firestone Walker, and a few Modern Times. Sculpin gone, Moylans gone, Modus gone, hell Hop Devil gone, Prima Pils gone, so many more gone. Used to be the place was packed with beer shoppers, now when I’m there I’m usually the only one browsing. Im sure the business is in trouble beer wise, I can look at the dates on the cans to see that.
     
  12. islay

    islay Disciple (333) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    Tastes have changed. People who love bitter IPAs have partially aged out of regular beer purchases or have embraced their inner sweet tooth and reverse-lupulin-shifted over to NEIPAs. Newer drinkers never pushed past the ultra-high-rated, uber-hip, and ubiquitous sweet IPAs and pastry stouts and thus never developed a taste for bitterness, and they've overwhelmed in numbers those who've been in the hobby long enough to appreciate Real IPAs. Consequently, the California IPAs, aside from the Northeast wannabes like Modern Times and some big-name ol' reliables like Firestone Walker, no longer sell. Then of course there's the emphasis on the local and the abundance of local options, which just twists the knife in further.
     
  13. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,351) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    I’m sure your right, but I cannot buy $12-13 sixers of any style of beer from breweries I’ve never heard if before. Oh, I’ve tried a few here and there and to say I was disappointed would be kind.
     
  14. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (7,004) Sep 24, 2007 Liechtenstein
    Society Trader

    When did San Diego get moved to the Northeast?

    That aside, those of us who still enjoy "Real IPAs" are being forced aside, and have fewer choices, as most breweries try to make more joose boxxx beers. Since we have fewer choices that fit our palates, we can only buy the ones that remain. If a brewery has given up on real IPAS, in favor of lollipop flavored bullshit, it's not our fault if they struggle.

    Live by the fad, die by the fad.
     
  15. islay

    islay Disciple (333) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    That's my point; Modern Times, despite its California location, tends to imitate beers that gained popularity initially in the Northeast (thus "Northeast wannabe"), and that makes it immune to the plague that has felled so many other California breweries trying to distribute outside of the west coast.
     
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  16. Eddiehop

    Eddiehop Zealot (591) Jun 28, 2014 Texas
    Trader

    I was in a total wine today, and most all of the major craft distributors had IPAs on the shelf that average 3-9 months old. Its annoying as hell and then makes me buy the local stuff that is more like 1-2 months old.

    Examples were:
    --Lagunitas Born yesterday dated in early October and they had several cases
    --Alpine beers were anywhere from April-Nov 2019
    --Bells Two Hearted was the most fresh at 12/31/19 package date
    --Stone, O'dell and Ballast Point were all packaged 3+ mo. ago
     
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  17. beardown2489

    beardown2489 Devotee (405) Oct 5, 2012 Illinois

    it’s happening. It’ll take a year or two for it to all sort itself but a market like Chicago is and has been saturated for over a year. Yet we still have distributors signing out of market breweries and major expansions currently happening within the market.
     
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  18. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (7,004) Sep 24, 2007 Liechtenstein
    Society Trader

    Maybe I misread you then. But, most of the MT stuff I've had comes across as either SoCal or PNW style hoppy things. Shrug.
     
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  19. Singlefinpin

    Singlefinpin Devotee (469) Jul 17, 2018 North Carolina
    Trader

    The boom may well be over, with seltzer being the death knell
    But then again, people do get tired of, "malternatives," like Zima some things are not meant to last!
    Good beer is not going any where.
    But will we continue to see big craft breweries showing up? Well, we're not seeing that in an upturned economy.
    What would I like to see? The return of the brew pub. When a student of Brewer extroadinaire Charles Bamforth said, "I want to own my own brewery." Bamforth said, "open a brewpub and get a good chef, that way you'll be able to pay the bills and enjoy your brewing." I think that is good advice.
    Truly though, I hope the boom never ends, because craft beer has been quite the ride
     
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  20. islay

    islay Disciple (333) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    Restaurant-oriented brewpubs double (at minimum) the challenges and put the establishment in an industry even more competitive than the brewing business (i.e., the restaurant business). We've already seen a crash in brewpubs during most of our lifetimes (in the late '90s). I'm not saying they don't have a place in both the beer and restaurant scenes, but they're usually not the right call for prospective brewery owners unless they also have dreams of and, ideally, experience in running a restaurant. That said, in many states, the line between a brewery taproom and a brewpub is blurry to nonexistent. Even then, the breweries that emphasize food as a major revenue source upend their ambiance (for better or for worse), massively complicate their operations, and place themselves at the whims of public tastes in a second capacity (which could be thought of as diversification but also provides another major source of risk).
     
  21. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,225) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    I think that you're mistaken about modern times's MO. Perhaps the beers that they are distributing in limited quantities back east are all neipa-wannabes but out here they seem to be one of the best positioned breweries for whatever changes are coming to the beer market. They have a lot of locations spread around southern california and now oakland, they produce a decent variety of beers but the vast majority of brands are limited to their locations or their beer membership. They seem to have an excellent grasp on how much beer they can sell and allocate it with a deft hand that means that the shelf stuff from them is usually pretty fresh and always at a solid price point.

    As far as some kind of boom, I think that what we are seeing is a correction from a half century and change of US beer culture being unusually weak for a country so large and with such a diverse set of deep cultural attachments to the historic heartland of beer culture. Breweries in every town is normal (we are finally getting back there), the availability of a wide variety of styles is to be expected (not only do many urban centers have populations with strong cultural connections to a diversity of european beer cultures, but we are also the country that has been the vanguard of globalized culture and are generally a space where folks try on all sorts of social behaviors that are exotic in their ancestral cultural context), we have a broad social acceptance of drinking and beer permeates our short history, we have the agricultural base and infrastructure to produce beer ingredients widely, and we have a self image that aligns well with beer (the blue collar, 'joe sixpack', beer and sports and country music, hard days work vibe that is so central to our collective self image). Surely the trends will shift and certain styles will wane and grow in popularity but I don't see some massive failure of breweries on the horizon. We are still well shy of our national per capita peak.

    Something does have to give on the distribution/retail end of things though. My guess is that we will see a reduction in national brands. We will see larger chain grocers reduce their total beer selection and highly desirable out of hte area brewers' products will only be available at boutique shops. Stores that care will learn a bit more about beer handling and the local/regional hoppy stuff will find it's cooler and the room temp shelves will be stocked with a pared down selection of less delicate styles. Regional differences will also likely reassert themselves so that many styles will disappear from most locations while proliferating a few places. The basic styles (light and amber lagers, pale ales, porters/stouts) will remain the most common options.

    I believe that 'craft beer' (by brewers association standards) accounts for something just shy of 15% of total beer consumption right now, add in those breweries making the same style of beer but not meeting the BA definition and your still under 20%. Does anyone here really think that 20% of US beer consumption being something other than AAL/ALL is a crazy bubble that has to burst? If anything I am expecting that market share of non macro lager is going to continue to grow, I'd personally be surprised to see it ever capture a full 33% of the US beer market but I'd be equally surprised if certain regions didn't push closer to 50% non-macro lager in the next few decades. There are bubbles within the craft beer market (looking at you slushy beers and milkshake IPA) but flavorful beer isn't a bubble.
     
  22. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Devotee (465) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    Boom is over for sure.

    Change happens in everything , for better or worse.

    Learn to brew your own and you will always have fresh beer if you have the time.
     
  23. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,689) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    I really don't see how any of this matters; just be an aware and informed shopper like any other niche customer. I can get everything I want now, always could, and forseeably always will be able to.

    What happens in the more dominant portion of the market plays by different rules, and never concerned me unless it crossed over into my interests.
     
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  24. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (539) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    One of the classic IPAs, the version from Bass, was aged for 12 months before it even got on the ship. By the time it was drunk in India it was a minimum of 18 months old.
     
  25. Patrick999

    Patrick999 Meyvn (1,031) Oct 18, 2006 Florida

    Total Wine is brutal right now. Tons of beer, much of it not fresh, much of it honestly not beer I'd be that interested in even if it was fresh. I'm really missing a lot of the old Belgian classics/staples I used to be able to find easily in 750s, too - I've come to appreciate just how much enjoyment I got from those bottles....I'd pick them up to pair with cheeses, special meals, etc. The endless sea of NEIPAs and adjunct stouts isn't doing it for me.
     
  26. beerwego

    beerwego Initiate (51) Dec 5, 2019

    You'd have to be blind to not see what is coming, and who put it here. Beer geeks and hobbyists are ruining beer. It;s no fucking wonder why horrible ideas such as hard seltzer are making suck strides
     
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  27. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,225) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Any idea if there is anyone out there still making that style of IPA? Kind of surprised if someone hasn't given it a shot

    What does this even mean? How has beer been ruined? And who is leaving the "ruined" beer scene to get into that dope hard selzer scene?
     
  28. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,491) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    The boom has slowed, but where is the bust?

    Michigan may have led the way in places closing last year, but opening still exceeded closings. Our local beer report says there are now 400 licsenced breweries making beer.
     
  29. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Crusader (772) May 3, 2016 Illinois
    Trader

    I lol'd because I can have one really hoppy beer and feel like I drank the whole pack. I've been wondering for a while if there is a limit to how much of this stuff I should be consuming.
     
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  30. beerwego

    beerwego Initiate (51) Dec 5, 2019

    Consumers are fed up with the FOMO silver can swindle on taste and are happily spending money elsewhere, while craft brewing longstays have had to reinvent their portfolios to reflect the narrow view that now represents beer in America.

    Ruined? Have you been to the beer shop lately. It's embarrassing sea of juicy this, hazy that...breweries with no history plunking down criminal 4-packs, and no shortage of morons to lap it up, while craft classics fall from view/distro.
     
  31. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,225) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Well I feel bad for you if that is what your beer stores are like. That is not the case out here by a long shot
     
  32. beerwego

    beerwego Initiate (51) Dec 5, 2019

    You're in Cali, so perhaps less vulnerable to the Cuntitude that haze has brought to the industry
     
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  33. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,385) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Jeff, you are indeed correct here. The boom has slowed but no bust as yet. Have you by any chance read anything from Bart Watson on this topic? Has it made any projections on when the beer industry may reach an 'equilibrium' as regards beer production (e.g., barrels per year)?

    Cheers!
     
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  34. bwarner2015

    bwarner2015 Initiate (92) Mar 25, 2016 Connecticut

    The boom will continue several more years imho. According to Fortune.com and Brewersassociation.org, the U.S. has averaged about 1,000 new breweries each year since 2014-2019. At what point will the data show that the boom is over? I feel there is still room for more breweries per capita. There are many small cities and towns that can certainly use a good brewery. It will slow at some point, when the sub-par breweries start to close (like Stoudt's? I've never been so can't judge) due to the fierce competition, but I assure you there will be a new brewer who will take a shot at those openings!
     
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  35. bwarner2015

    bwarner2015 Initiate (92) Mar 25, 2016 Connecticut

    What I have discussed with beer store owners recently is that they are condensing their inventory. They have realized that can't offer everything anymore, as too much sits on the shelf. They are focusing on the top-sellers only, and perhaps several local offerings. This may start to slow things down on the brewers side..
     
  36. officerbill

    officerbill Disciple (366) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Trader

    I can easily find fall variety packs from several breweries.
    That's the big issue here.
    IMO the retailers and distributors share the blame. Order too much and end up with a formerly hot beer that no one will buy because it's now several months old and get a reputation for selling old beer. Don't order enough and you have empty shelves and get a reputation for not stocking the latest beers.
    Distributors don't help the matter by refusing to take back or credit unsold/out of date beer or by delivering almost out of date beer to the retailer. In August I saw that Ayinger had been restocked, then saw that all of them were over six months old; the manager said it had been delivered the day before. Those beers are now better than a year old and still sitting on the shelf.

    I don't know if I'm out of the ordinary, but +90% of my beer comes from groceries or beer stores. There are four local breweries; they don't can and distribute locally so I'm not going to see, let alone buy, their beer. The problem is that the local managers of the two largest chains, Weis & Wegmans, don't have the authority to say “sure, we'll carry your beers”.

    If only there was a website where you could read reviews and opinions, from people who advocate for beer, in order to get informed opinions about those breweries you've never heard of.:rolling_eyes:
     
  37. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,385) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    And I have seen that with a very popular nationwide distributed craft brewery. I brought this issue to the attention of an employee of that brewery in a BA thread and the response was essentially "I do not believe you unless you provide proof". Old beer is indeed coming directly from the Wholesale Distributors but it sure seems like the beer industry prefers to be like the three monkeys:

    [​IMG]

    The larger, distributing breweries can either 'wake up' and address the issue of too much old stock on retailers shelves who suffer lost sales, their choice here.

    On a related matted this past weekend I purchased a 6-pack from a small, local brewery: Sterling Pig Shoat Pilsner. This 6-pack was $7.99 (total price) and the beer was canned on 1/20/20 (less than a month old).

    I am sorry to heat that for you purchasing packaged (e.g., canned) beer from small, local breweries is that readily available to you. IMO this is the ultimate solution (or motivator to distributing breweries?) for providing fresh beer to consumers.

    Cheers!
     
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  38. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Devotee (465) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    Sure, new breweries go in every year, but how many go out of buisness, especially the ones that don't make the news.

    Last I heard, there is all kinds of used, almost new, equiptment available. If things were indeed booming, I'd bet there would be little available.
     
  39. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,385) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    I am sure the Brewers Association (Bart Watson) is tracking this. I am confident that at some point this will be reported upon.

    Cheers!
     
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  40. islay

    islay Disciple (333) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    You mean Untappd? Because the ratings here for lesser-known breweries are minuscule. In addition, I don't trust the opinions of the vast majority of people who rate these days on any site, given their terrible taste as revealed by the top-rated beers, their obvious susceptibility to hive-mind thinking, and their remarkable inability to appreciate beer outside of a limited range of presently sexy styles.