Why Craft Beer Is Dying

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by SFACRKnight, Aug 10, 2019.

  1. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,330) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

  2. nw2571

    nw2571 Initiate (44) Feb 26, 2017 Indiana

    "The report of my death was an exaggeration."
    -Mark Twain
  3. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,943) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Basically that is a thought provoking article, but one in which the author focuses only the most visible thing these day, attempts a doing an innovation that will be valued enough to stick around. Many of that wave of innovation will find give a silent whimper as the reach the end of the world. What he ignores is the fact that there is a wide stable base that lives on and on. Dogifsh Head 90min and other Beers of Fame still chug along generating little excitement but strong steady sales.

    So I suggest flavorful beer is not yet dying but rather in the winnowing stage of many more innovations that may only surive one brewing as the increasing number of brewers seek to offer something they can sell enough of while finding a flagship that will give them seady revenue flow that will allow them to stop living hand to mouth.

    Lots of different folks competing in the same space need to attract attention and eventually estables a solid base or they will simply fade away to be forgotten, (And most rightly so.)
    JimKal, Scottie_A25, SeanBond and 5 others like this.
  4. chipawayboy

    chipawayboy Devotee (429) Oct 26, 2007 Massachusetts

    Whaaaaa. There’s 7K breweries and all I can get is hazy IPAs and pastry stouts. Whaaaa. What happened to the artistic/innovative brewers? Whaaaaaaa.
  5. mambossa

    mambossa Disciple (380) Jun 30, 2015 Ohio

    I learned nothing from this article. This guy just sounds like pretty much everyone, and basically said what many other people in the industry have been saying for the past 2-3 years.

    Sure, I’m not a huge fan of NEIPA, pastry stout, or hyperfruited kettle sours, but I’m not gonna go ahead and claim that there’s “no innovation” or that we are “losing the artists”.

    What does he want? Someone to reinvent the Rauchbier? Homogeny is the ultimate end result of any big boom of a trend. And that’s okay. The game can still change. And it will change. Nothing to be bitter about.
  6. neenerzig

    neenerzig Poo-Bah (2,139) Feb 15, 2006 Ohio

    Nope, not dying.

    Lucnifter, sliv, MJSFS and 9 others like this.
  7. nw2571

    nw2571 Initiate (44) Feb 26, 2017 Indiana

    Remember when IPAs were more bitter than the brewers?

    "I 'member. "
  8. Beer_Stan

    Beer_Stan Initiate (114) Mar 15, 2014 California

    The title of the article and this...
    "However, I am also fairly often described as, among other things, a pessimist."
    are enough for me to disagree with this "opinion." On a deeper level, having worked in the industry for over 10 years (vs his 6) and seeing trends come and go, I have a question. Why is it every time the craft beer world seems to plateau even a little bit, some breweries die off and others are harbingers of things to come, these self-proclaimed craft beer Nostradamus types tend to pop up and tell us how craft beer is coming to an end/is dead/died a long time ago/etc? They said it before when IPAs became the face of craft beer, each brewery chasing more and more hops, they said it when everything started shifting to cans, they said it when ABI and their ilk were buying up all those breweries. We're still here, brewers are still brewing and craft beer continues to redefine itself for better or for worse but it surely isn't dead/dying. Craft beer is an amorphous blob of shrodinger-esque innovation, don't ask the question, just drink the beer.
  9. thedaveofbeer

    thedaveofbeer Initiate (170) Mar 25, 2016 Massachusetts

    Wow- this guys sounds way more entitled than the pastry/haizbois scene that he laments about. worse still, he is hypocritical- both those scenes are innovations on craft beer- whether you like them or not is your own opinion, but he seems to urge and besmirch the same idea. Yikes!
    MJSFS, brureview and dukeandduke like this.
  10. MacMalt

    MacMalt Poo-Bah (3,450) Jan 28, 2015 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    I think the problem is the opposite of the article. There is more good beer available now than I could possibly drink. Not only are new breweries opening on a regular basis but the distribution has improved enormously. And it's not all New England IPAs. I will say that many new breweries are canning too soon; well before they've perfected their recipes. There seems to be no shortage of money supporting the craft beer industry.
  11. Doma

    Doma Initiate (32) May 19, 2019 California

    As long as I have an access to fresh 12-packs SNPA I will survive.
  12. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,627) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Bwah! C'mon, where would "craft beer" be without pandering? :wink: This dude's main problem seems to be that he swallowed the mythology wholesale from the get go.
  13. FatBoyGotSwagger

    FatBoyGotSwagger Meyvn (1,328) Apr 4, 2009 Pennsylvania

    I read the article a day or two ago. Thought about it and came to the conclusion it was not worth sharing.
    Dan_K, SoCalBeerIdiot, MJSFS and 6 others like this.
  14. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,311) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    From the article:
    "I am also fairly often described as, among other things, a pessimist."

    I sure hope Simon Nielsen doesn't read BeerAdvocate forums. The threads in Beer Talk lately would make him go into a tailspin:

    - Destroying a beer's legacy...
    - Why craft beer is dying,
    - What's the worst beer that you've ever had?
    - Has anyone ever been banned from a brewery for what they've posted online?
    - What brewery does your community sh-t on?
    - Sexism in my local beer scene.
    - The worst trends in beer according to brewers
    - Craft Beer Calorie Count (hazy ipa and pastry stout)
    Shroud0fdoom, tzieser, MJSFS and 20 others like this.
  15. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,330) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    I don't recall a time going back to the last BA iteration when there were so many negative threads at one time. I cant help but see a shift in craft beer attitude as of late.
    rodbeermunch, Scrapss and dukeandduke like this.
  16. dukeandduke

    dukeandduke Meyvn (1,215) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois
    Society Trader

    I have a beer tour planned next week, with Central Waters a planned stop.

    If you brew good offerings, you may be lost in the shuffle in terms of hype, and you may not grow at double/triple digits each year, but you will keep your customers happy. If you are a savvy business person, you can implement ways of expanding our reach with your quality beer.

    If the brewer wants to pass on NEIPAs, he probably should. He has a good selection of beers, especially several solid stouts, and he should stick with what he knows and can deliver, and still continue to explore and grow to better his craft.

    I'll enjoy my visit Simon, turn your frown upside down, and I'll see you next Friday.
  17. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,596) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    I think it is a bit near sighted and foolish to claim the death of craft beer when reality screams for the headline, "Craft Beer Moves To Take Over The World" Perhaps he meant that he sees the death of breweries that hope to get by on the same basic lineup of beers and styles. Even that may yet prove to be wrong. It's a BIG world.
  18. alucard6679

    alucard6679 Aspirant (220) Jul 29, 2012 Arizona

    Craft beer is changing

    There, fixed it
  19. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (280) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Where are calls for innovation among 7500 breweries supposed to lead other than in the direction of more of what he is already seeing today and that he dislikes? The perspective of "I don't know what it is that I want, but I wish that someone would figure it out and provide it to me", either from the perspective of an individual or an imagined craft beer "community" doesn't seem very worth while. At this point anyone who has been drinking craft beer for several years ought to have a firm grasp of their preferences, and so the question becomes: if you are unsatisfied by what is available to you, what is it that you want? And is it possible that there are breweries already out there that might offer what you want, whose beers you haven't tried?

    There's already too many beers on the shelves which cater to my preferences for me to drink them all as much as I would like. The way I see it if you know what you want but you cannot currently get it that is one thing, but if you don't know what it is that you want, and you are at the same time dissatisfied with the current state of the beer market, and arguing that brewers should do things differently, then maybe take some time to try and figure out what it is that you want first.
  20. islay

    islay Aspirant (278) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    People in this thread are getting distracted by a hyperbolic headline that the author of the article might well not have written or even seen before publishing. The body of the article, from which I suspect a separate headline writer was inspired, refers to "killing the heart of our movement," which, while somewhat similar in language to the headline, to me conveys a much different idea (not that craft beer is dying as a hobby or industry so much as it's losing its original raison d'etre).

    Do people think that a practical consolidation of styles, an increasing "sameness" among the many beers available, and a reduction in the frequency of originality and innovation outside of some rather narrow limits 1) is happening and 2), if so, is a problem? Because those are the questions that this article is answering in the affirmative. I tend to agree, albeit with many exceptions.

    For the record, I'm quite sympathetic to the author's concerns, but I don't think this article articulated them particularly well.
  21. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (280) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    As an addendum, the first sentence should read "innovation or variety".
  22. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,596) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    Fantastic post, I agree 100%.
    Premo88 likes this.
  23. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,330) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    Kman_Colorado and Scrapss like this.
  24. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,558) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Society Trader

    A year or two ago it seemed to me like whenever a startup brewery announced a new beer it was yet another IPA or sour, which I haven't been a fan of. It was as if they were pandering to millenials, many of whom seemed to think that a beer is either an IPA or sour. Breweries are a business, so to stay open they do need to give people what they seem to want. That seems to have changed, or what people want has changed. We recently had a flurry of new breweries open in the area and their sour and IPA selection is only part of their lineup, and there are many other style choices offered.

    The industry isn't dying, it's changing.
  25. Hat_Fulla_Beer

    Hat_Fulla_Beer Devotee (496) Dec 14, 2015 Alberta (Canada)

    For all I hear about the industry dying or whatever, I still seem to be able to drink a vast and varied quantity of delicious beer. I'm not sure there's a problem.
    mickyge, MJSFS, tylerstubs and 4 others like this.
  26. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (960) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    As a retired beer and wine veteran I know about these ebbs and flows. I used to say that there's more great beer and wine available than there are people to drink them. Much less buy them. It is a quandary that is good but fraught with pitfalls.
  27. lastmango

    lastmango Champion (800) Dec 11, 2014 Pennsylvania

    I thought this was very interesting. I worry too. It seems that too many breweries are chasing trends and trying to be all things to everyone. But, where does that eventually lead to? For burgers, we wound up with McDonalds. Beer . . . Bud, Miller etc. where they get brand loyalty not because of the great beer, but because of the $$$$$$$ advertising. Perhaps it best to pick a niche that you do well and stick to it if possible. I don't know . . . I'm just a beer drinker . . .
    TJM and dukeandduke like this.
  28. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Savant (903) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    The only problem I see is that at some point there will be too many breweries for anyone to make $$$$$$$$$$$. Of course people were saying that 5,000 breweries ago so it could be many years to come.
  29. chipawayboy

    chipawayboy Devotee (429) Oct 26, 2007 Massachusetts

    Agree the thread situation is bad. Need something to replace the “NEIPA thread of the week” which offered endless entertainment from ~2013-2016. :grin:
    SFACRKnight and dukeandduke like this.
  30. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,596) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    Indeed. I too read it and didn't bring it here. I thought it's just more negative nonsense from someone who complains that the times are changing, when the fact is the times are moving, as they always do. People who hope they don't move, like Mr. Simon, try to make fancy arguments to hide the fact they have neither the will nor desire to keep up with them.
    MJSFS, Squire, meefmoff and 6 others like this.
  31. chipawayboy

    chipawayboy Devotee (429) Oct 26, 2007 Massachusetts

    Why is craft beer dying? Need look no further than the abysmal current thread board right here at BA....
    - Because men are suing breweries for gender discrimination and winning
    - Because people are being banned from breweries for what they are posting on line
    - Because people are talking about how much beer they’ve consumed in 24 hrs.
    - Because Mega breweries have figured how to screw beer cans together to safe plastic waste.
    - Because quality breweries like Platform (who names a brewery “Platform”?) are joining ABInBevs Craft Beer Collective.

  32. thedaveofbeer

    thedaveofbeer Initiate (170) Mar 25, 2016 Massachusetts

    To answer your questions from a New England perspective (geographically speaking; not IPA speaking :slight_smile: 1: NO . 2: NO. I can find good craft examples direct from the brewery of just about every beer style within an hour drive of my Central Massachusetts location. Others milage may vary.
  33. eppCOS

    eppCOS Savant (962) Jun 27, 2015 Colorado

    Thanks to the OP for putting this up; an interesting but slightly Monday morning perspective (jaded, hungover, whatever). I think that the best breweries, with good owners, allow their brewers to be creative and not just have IPAs and pastry stouts. The ones that only do those styles will corner their niches, perhaps, but think of your favorite brewery. Does it only have those two styles? OK, maybe time to find a new favorite brewery.
    We're a long way from facing any death knell on (whatever your definition of) craft brewing.
    Still fun to read; but he also doesn't mention crispybois, so I was happy about that. :wink:
    SFACRKnight likes this.
  34. islay

    islay Aspirant (278) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    Mr. Simon is the head brewer at a very highly regarded brewery. That doesn't make him necessarily right about this matter -- lord knows we have some respected brewers chiming in regularly around here who I would say are way off quite frequently -- but he's sharing a perspective that I know from my discussions with many professional brewers to be very common in the industry. Many are afraid to express such thoughts publicly for fear of backlash and because often they too rely on these styles and trends.

    Note that one of his points is that a small few dominant trends are stifling originality. He's not opposed to change; he wants change to be driven by artistic vision and creativity, which would make it wide, varied, and actually innovative, rather than chasing consumers down a narrow rabbit hole. As usual, cavedave, you show that you have neither the will nor desire to keep up with the ideas of people who don't naively adopt the same simplistic conclusions to which you so stubbornly cling.
    Roguer and JimboBrews54 like this.
  35. flaskman

    flaskman Aspirant (288) Aug 3, 2015 New York

    I think it's what happens in a mature market. It's the culling of the herd. The only way to get market share is to take it from someone else. Innovation is good and so is competition. The next thing to come - i hope is lower prices.
  36. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,866) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    I thought the article was very well done. Catching a wave that’s already passed, and I agree, and unprofitable at that. I can see craft beer dying by what I see on the shelf right now vs say 5 years ago. My assumption was there was too much beer on the shelf from too many brewers doing the same thing. I think we agree on that, we just went thru a long cycle of Cali ipas among others dying on the shelf.
    Celtics76 and rgordon like this.
  37. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (1,745) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Society Trader

    Don't see it, local craft is booming. Maybe its the death of large, worn, old craft breweries, who don't change with the times :thinking_face:
    MJSFS, JimboBrews54 and dukeandduke like this.
  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,098) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Thank you to Simon Nielsen for sharing his thoughts here.

    A few things ‘jumped out’ to me:

    “I can tell you from being embedded deep inside this industry that many brewers are scrambling to pack ingredients and haze into beers often to appease their consumers, not because those are the beers we are reaching for at the end of a brew day. It is not what many of us are passionate about.”

    So these sentences convey that breweries are brewing the sorts of beers that consumers want (the beers that sell). Sounds like something a business should do – serve their customers.

    “I would argue that the real problem lies with us, the brewers. Many of us are actively chasing trends in an effort to gain or maintain our market share and stay relevant, and that is inherently unprofitable.”

    I would need to see some proof here about “inherently unprofitable” here. I seriously doubt that breweries like Tree House, Trillium, Tired Hands are “unprofitable”.

    “When a company spends that same time developing its own unique offerings, however, it creates its own wave that it can ride in its entirety. It is a risk to go with your own unproven creation; it may not resonate with people.”

    I 100% agree with these sentences. It is indeed risky to brew the beers that the brewer wants to brew with the hope that customers want to buy these beers.

    “Owners, allow your brewers to take your brand in directions that may break away from IPAs and pastry stouts.”

    If I was a brewery owner and my brewers stated they no longer wanted to brew “IPAs and pastry stouts” I would say: too bad! The customers want these sorts of beers and I am in business to make money (so I can make payroll, etc.).

    As a beer consumer I personally would prefer more beer styles to drink beyond IPAs and pastry stouts but I fully understand why contemporary craft breweries are making these sorts of beers. Breweries are in business and businesses need to make money (revenue, sales, profits).

    LuskusDelph, Squire, cavedave and 3 others like this.
  39. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,866) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    There always going to be breweries that are doing it better than others like Treehouse, but there's plenty who don’t, and if they did there would be no dispute or negative threads here. Most NEIPAS are just ok beers, and you cant long survive just being ok imo at $16 or more a 4 pk. Its not sustainable. I don’t see NEIPAS all over the shelves anymore, it been slowing down for quite some time. I personally don’t like DFH beers, they’re a bit too quirky for me, so lies the risk of innovation, but the risk of sameness is a risk too. Funny how that doesn’t hurt the AAL market though.
  40. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,943) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Re that sameness and hurt. It does hurt the Big Kids, otherwise we wouldn't be here. But lots of people don't like changes in their beer. I see guys pop in to the beverage store, say about 5 or a bit before, they pick up the same case of, say Coors, every time. Buy it and leave. I've seen the same guy do that 3-4 times and I'm not there every day, so this was spread out over a few weeks. Point is some folks don't want variety at all.
    #40 drtth, Aug 10, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019