Will 2013 be the year that craft beer plateaus?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by StoutLover4life, Jan 3, 2013.


Will Craft beers expansion finally plateau in 2013?

  1. yes

    22 vote(s)
  2. no

    171 vote(s)
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  1. StoutLover4life

    StoutLover4life Initiate (0) Dec 13, 2012

    Over the past 3 years I've noticed an extreme boom in craft beer. However towards the end of this year I feel like breweries are finally keeping up with demand. Breakfast Stout and Bourbon County were extremely easy to find and I feel like the big boom we saw in 2011 is not growing as quickly. Ebay shut down illicit sales and I notice the same post on craigslist not selling any of their hoarded beer, so it seems the "beer black market" has slowed down significantly. With all these new breweries popping up it seems like there just is no more shelf space. I believe this year will be the year that we see the lesser brands to either fall off or sell out. So I was just wonder what people's predictions for 2013 will be?
  2. tewaris

    tewaris Initiate (0) Jul 14, 2009 Minnesota

    In my opinion, as long as the market share of the same kind of beer (American Pale Lager) is large, there is room for craft beer/breweries to grow.

    While it is easy enough to find a craft beer in many bars now, most taps are still dispensing BMC. Much of that segment, if not all*, is for taking. And it will take well beyond 2013 for that to happen, IMO.

    * Not all because it seems impossible to beat the price point and aggressive advertising.
    StoutLover4life likes this.
  3. BeerGruber

    BeerGruber Initiate (0) Apr 8, 2011 California

    I think the days of the $20+ bomber for specialty/whale beers will slowly die, probably over the course of a few years. Breweries will still have plenty of demand but after market price gauging will drop off. More people will demand quality session beers. Breweries in over saturated market will start seeing a sales drop off if they have an inferior product, now it seems like fermenting capacity is the only thing limiting sales for most breweries. Still plenty of growth opportunities and untapped markets for new breweries to enter into and succeed. Poor breweries will ultimately struggle, similar to poor businesses in any sector.
    WeymouthMike and StoutLover4life like this.
  4. StoutLover4life

    StoutLover4life Initiate (0) Dec 13, 2012

    this is true. Why do you think BMC is so popular though? Do you think it's marketing or do you think that Americans actually like light lagers?
  5. devlishdamsel

    devlishdamsel Initiate (0) Aug 1, 2009 Washington

    They are certainly much cheaper than a lot of craft beers. Like any other refined scene, the masses do not always appreciate the delights of a few. Especially when your average bar goer is looking for an alcohol high rather than a palate romance.
  6. devlishdamsel

    devlishdamsel Initiate (0) Aug 1, 2009 Washington

    I think that this is not possible due to the amount of these so called rare beers and the high demand for them. The scene is still growing, but our economy is not. I think a lot of people can't justify the higher prices the craft beer brings ( they just don't love beer that much).
    StoutLover4life likes this.
  7. vegantreats

    vegantreats Initiate (0) Jul 18, 2009 Hawaii

    I can justify, shit... everyone in the US is spoiled!!( yes I'n jealous)
    I pay over the top in Asia for decent craft. Every time I go back to
    Chicago is a dream!

    Anyway... plateaus? Here if people even know craft beer it's a rarity.
    US wise, honestly, who can go back to macro brew after they are hooked?
    I spend WAY too much of my salary on craft , yet,would sacfafice
    many other things before craft beer and good food.
    Lucidious likes this.
  8. marquis

    marquis Crusader (759) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    In the UK macro lagers are significantly more expensive in bars than "craft beer" of similar strength yet this doesn't seem to have any effect on buying patterns.
    Our "craft" share lies at around 15% and rising slowly; we have a couple of advantages here. One is that it's well established and accepted as a quality item. The other is that we have a massive infrastructure in place to sell it.

    Where price does have an effect is in the supermarkets where some macro stuff os sold at below cost. Legislation is likely to stop this before long; I support this as it's the pubs which suffer through this underpricing.
  9. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,413) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Not likely to plateau this year. In fact, I think this is the beginning of the final push to reaching the amount of folks that will be necessary to support the 1000 new breweries in the planning stage. I see us leveling out in about 8 years, when most bars and restaurants have found out what craft beers their customers like, and will have dedicated space to them.

    Right now AAL's are the favorite beer, but most of those folks have not tried more full flavored options. Once they do some of those folks are bound to become fine beer lovers.
    iKasey and drtth like this.
  10. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Champion (825) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    I see no reason why craft beer can't continue to grow at a steady pace for many more years. Last year 2 small retailers where i live expanderd cooler and shelf space for craft beer. 1 bar added 6 taps another added 12. Craft beer is still a small part of the beer market. There is still a lot of room for growth.
    Dtrain4 and TongoRad like this.
  11. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,307) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Yup- and it'll continue to grow in the area where it is sold by the barrel and consumed by the pitcher. I find it quite a positive sign that Victory's Headwaters took off like it did, and I'm sure that sort of thing is happening all over the country. Shelf space is one thing- we need to start moving up to floor space, where all of those pallets of AALs are stacked.

    Focusing on collectible bottles and the like is to be caught up in a distraction; that's not what this is really all about, or what drives the craft beer 'movement'.
    maximum12 and drtth like this.
  12. lotsaswigs

    lotsaswigs Initiate (152) Jan 24, 2006 Michigan

    Around 3 years or so ago, you could also buy as much breakfast stout, Bourbon County, and many others beers you are now seeing bottle limits on as you wanted. So I don't think you're seeing brewers finally keeping up with demand, they're just readjusting to meet the demand, which makes sense for brewers that want to sell a lot of beer.

    Overall, in my opinion, black market beer sales do far more harm than good to the normal craft beer consumer, so I personally don't correlate the trend of eliminating these illegal transactions as the beer scene plateauing...just presents more opportunities for the regular craft beer consumers have more access to more limited releases.

    Sure, you're going to see some breweries fail, but in the long run weeding out the bad beer is a plus for craft beer in general. When there's less bad beer taking up craft taps and shelves, the chances of a BMC guy randomly trying something and getting something really good goes up...and so does the chance they may be converted.

    I think you'll see the number of craft breweries opening up start to level out some, but in general I see the percentage of people consuming craft beer as opposed to BMC continuing to rise in the foreseeable future.
    StoutLover4life and SatlyMalty like this.
  13. chcfan

    chcfan Devotee (466) Oct 29, 2008 California

    Lagers (though the advent of "light" may be a relatively new development) have been the dominant beer in the US for over 150 years. Anyone who thinks it's just because of advertising is wrong. I don't ever foresee a time when craft is more than 50% of the market given price points, marketing, and the fact that most people don't care or don't want fuller flavored beers. Most people have pretty bad taste in just about everything, so I don't see why beer would be different. I do think we'll continue to see slow and steady growth for craft over the next few years, maybe longer.
  14. HipsterBrewfus

    HipsterBrewfus Initiate (0) Jun 3, 2012 Maryland

    I'd be happy if it just slowed the fuck down. The quantity of whats available vs. the time and money I have to try them, isn't working out for me haha
    YogiBeer, Thecherryman and HuskyinPDX like this.
  15. DrunkPagan

    DrunkPagan Initiate (0) Mar 31, 2006 Rhode Island

    As long as we keep Wall Street out of it, I think we'll be fine.

    But seriously, folks, the availability of Craft Beer is a good thing. If left alone, I think market saturation will just force greater competition, squashing some brands, yes, but allowing others to rise to greater success. It won't lead to a bursting of the bubble, but rather, just another step in the evolution.
  16. jmw

    jmw Initiate (0) Feb 4, 2009 North Carolina

    Expansion will not plateau this year. That's just you noticing a few different things and trying to predict the future.

    You will always see more of these beers toward the end of the year--it is when they are released. Keep it in perspective.
  17. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    It would take years and years of continued growth for craft to reach 10% of the market, let alone 50%.
  18. chcfan

    chcfan Devotee (466) Oct 29, 2008 California

    For sure, it's just that there's a sentiment among a number of BAs who that everyone would love craft beer if it wasn't for those darn commercials! I strongly disagree with those people for the reasons I mentioned above.
  19. koflaherty

    koflaherty Initiate (194) Nov 11, 2009 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    I think this is a good summary of how I feel as well. I think craft beer does have a self limiting point within the US market. I don't know if that is 10% or 15% - and it depends on how you define craft - but as you get closer and more of the bigger players get aggressive it will get harder for smaller breweries to survive and some of the overpriced bombers and inferior products will get pushed out. I do think you'll see more successful session beers and other options that 'crossover' between craft quality and lighter beer taste, but ultimately America's taste aren't going to shift dramatically.

    That said, I don't think 2013 is the turning point. Everything suggests to me that the growth will continue for a few years but you will see some flattening out in the next couple of years.
  20. Stevedore

    Stevedore Poo-Bah (4,089) Nov 16, 2012 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    As with any year, depending on demand for craft brews- bad breweries will close down and the better ones will continue on, maybe even get bigger and expand, or conversely shrink. And new ones will open their doors. It's going continue to be a rather organic process I imagine. I really don't think demand for craft beers are going to change significantly in the future- like another poster said, the brewers are readjusting to meet the demand.

    AALs hold the majority of the market for many reasons- advertising, inertia, habits, actual preferences for AALs, peer pressure, etc. and while it has been slowly shrinking over time (from what, 80% to 70% or something like that?), I can't imagine any cataclysmic event (synchronised terrorist attacks on BMC breweries all over the country? Breaking news that BMC brews have been found to be contain toxic compounds that we've been drinking for decades? IDK) that would suddenly bring beer drinkers to reject AALs willy-nilly and move to craft. Or the other way around. I can't imagine a tipping point such as that happening anytime soon. So no, I think 2013 is just going to be a continuation of recent trends.
  21. xanok

    xanok Disciple (369) Aug 13, 2009 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    Many breweries have stopped distributing to some New England states because the demand has gotten so high in their home states(Avery and Great Divide come to mind).

    I suspect more of this will continue in other parts of the country to make room for the start-ups and locals.
  22. ShogoKawada

    ShogoKawada Meyvn (1,247) May 31, 2009 Pennsylvania

  23. airforbes1

    airforbes1 Initiate (0) Oct 27, 2010 California

    There's two ways to look at this: craft beer growth will be limited by how difficult it is to "convert" AAL lovers, or the huge number of AAL lovers means there is a large number of people who have never tried craft beer but could potentially be "converted."

    Acknowledging that anecdotal evidence is of obvious quality, I'm pretty sure I'm the only person buying things like Fuller's ESB and Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout at my local specialty store. Most patrons I see are buying things like Bud Light and Corona while even mainstream craft products (like Samuel Adams and Sierra Nevada) sit on the shelf. Some will switch away from their brand of fizzy lager, much less to craft.

    However, my cousin and I went to the Rose Bowl and crashed at one of my cousin's friends apartment near the USC campus. The expectation was that we were to express our gratitude by buying beer for this college-aged friend. The beer he requested? To my shock (and delight), it was Chimay blue! Unfortunately, the only craft options at the grocery store we went to were Boston Lager, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and Fat Tire (admitting that I'm using stereotypes, the selection at this grocery store seemed to cater to college students and people who live in the ghetto). We went with a 12-pack of Fat Tire.

    Anyway, I know this reads as a "cool story, bro," but I guess what I'm trying to get at is that I think there's still room for craft growth because younger drinkers might be more open-minded than the previous generation. We're less set in our ways (such as not believing that beer is supposed to be yellow and fizzy or being loyal to one particular brand). I do wonder about how much craft beer will grow in the short run, but in the long run I see enormous potential as young drinkers put down the Keystone Light and begin to demand something with some actual character.
    StoutLover4life likes this.
  24. MarcatGSB

    MarcatGSB Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2011 Michigan

    NINJA EDIT: I'm mad, Bro(s).
  25. leedorham

    leedorham Crusader (701) Apr 27, 2006 Washington

    Why we gotta predict the future? Just enjoy the ride. Everything is gonna be just fine.
  26. imduffman

    imduffman Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2012 Ohio

    its a bit of a silly question. how can something that's risen consistently and was still up over 10% in sales and volume nation wide plateau in a years time? out of the 200,000,000 bl sold 12,000,000 are considered craft. thats roughly 12% of the market currently. it will slow, theres no question about it. wouldnt expect that to be so soon.
  27. iKasey

    iKasey Initiate (0) Sep 2, 2012 Pennsylvania

    This mirrors my exact thoughts. I think Nick Benz in Beer Wars said it best when he was talking about how people are starting to make their own decisions about the beer they like, not what is being deployed to them now we have the choice. (paraphrasing, obviously).

    I do, however, think we will see quite a few more micros selling to the major players, so it'll be interesting to see how market share gets diversified in the next decade.
  28. stupac2

    stupac2 Zealot (518) Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    BAs have predicted 10 of the last 1 craft beer bubbles.
    YogiBeer and luwak like this.
  29. StoutLover4life

    StoutLover4life Initiate (0) Dec 13, 2012

    Do you mean 24million out of 200 million?
  30. mecummins

    mecummins Initiate (0) Nov 16, 2012 Illinois

    I don't see it plateauing this year or even next. I kind of view it as the foodie movement. There are always going to be people who will only eat at McDonalds. But the more people who are given the opportunity to try a fat juicy made to order pub burger, the more people will want the quality of that pub burger every place they eat. I'm guessing that instead of creating a society that will replace BMC with craft, we are moving into one that wants both options available all the time. We're evolving.
  31. imduffman

    imduffman Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2012 Ohio

    sorry its 6% of the market. thank you for spotting that. still not a bad number considering the prices compared to your mass produced adjunct brews, and the amount of time on the market. pat your local brewers on the back.
    StoutLover4life likes this.
  32. 19etz55

    19etz55 Disciple (325) Aug 12, 2007 New Jersey

    Years ago some breweries struggled and ended up I believe merging to survive. Hope they can do this now so breweries don't go under. We shall overcome!
  33. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,433) Mar 18, 2010 California

    More of the same.
  34. Lucidious

    Lucidious Initiate (0) Nov 15, 2012 California

    Like any booming trend it will continue to swell until there is just too much. Look at the dot-com boom, same thing happened there. It swelled, bubbled, then burst. Now it's level and stable and still growing but at a more predictable, steady rate. Craft brew hasn't burst yet, gastropubs are popping up EVERYWHERE and exposing more and more and more people to craft. Only when there is so much that people trying to jump on and make a quick buck are drowned out by more dedicated and deliberate breweries (with a higher quality product) will there be a "plateau". Even then, the industry will grow, just at a slower more consistent pace. It will ALWAYS grow. the population is always growing, so even if you stick the industry at %6 forever, there will be growth.

    so does that mean that Stone is the Google of craft beer?
  35. black13

    black13 Disciple (306) Apr 11, 2010 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    Nope! About 10 years ago a friend of mine said that Portland couldn't handle any more breweries. Well, we currently have 42 or so and they all seem to be doing quite well.
  36. StoutLover4life

    StoutLover4life Initiate (0) Dec 13, 2012

    I would vote for dogfish head
  37. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    Short sighted. If you want to look at market trends and something that could definitively could be considered a plateau you are going to have to look at a bigger sample size and realize you will not have a true answer by December 31, 2013.

    We can speculate all we want but many of us are working off of inadequate information to make a halfway informed comment.
    Bay01 likes this.
  38. stupac2

    stupac2 Zealot (518) Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    I don't understand why people think that the tech (or housing) bubbles are anything like the growth we've been seeing in beer. The tech bubble was just an example of irrational exuberance, where people overvalued assets because everyone was overvaluing them. Looking at fundamentals (such as P/E ratios) it was obvious everything was overvalued, but because of various incentives people kept with it. (These incentives being that a dude working at a financial firm who predicts the end but gets it wrong is loses a ton of money and is out on his ass, while one who just goes with happy times gets a 5-figure bonus, so you need to be confident both about whether a bubble is happen and when it will stop. The former is actually not all that hard to see, the latter is quite difficult, as anyone who has read The Big Short will understand.) The housing bubble had similar origins.

    Beer is a consumable, it's growing because people are consuming it. You can say that this change is ephemeral, but it's still happening. If it collapses it will be because the public's tastes changed, NOT for the reasons that the housing/tech bubbles collapsed. And because the only way to cause a collapse is a widespread change in tastes, it's pretty much impossible to predict a priori.
  39. ubenumber2

    ubenumber2 Devotee (468) Sep 1, 2012 Arkansas
    Beer Trader

    We could see more craft brewers selling out to the likes of Inbev and Sab or partnering with them for distribution and satellite brewing. A lot of these guys got into the business because they loved to make beer , when it becomes a business and your beer is sought after nation wide and you do not have the ability to get it nation wide the pressure starts to pile up , I can only imagine the calls that these guys must get on a daily basis from bars , distributors , liquor stores , average joes and who ever else may call wanting to know where to buy their beer. Not saying this is going to be a good thing or a bad thing , I mean Goose Island did it and people still climb over each other to get to some of their beer at the liquor store.
  40. StoutLover4life

    StoutLover4life Initiate (0) Dec 13, 2012

    ? I'm not sure if you meant to be insulting or not but I guess I'll take it with a grain of salt.
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