Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Craft Beer - When Will the Bubble Pop?

Funny, I don't feel saturated...
Oh, my, gawd! Seriously, if I read one more quasi-news article about the alleged impending doom of the craft beer industry, I'm going to go batsh*t crazy on a b*tch. It seems like one of these gloomy predictions pops up every month or so on my newsfeed, and the story is always the same: the craft beer industry cannot possibly continue to sustain the double-digit growth it's been experiencing since way back...way back in the day people called the stuff "micro-brew". Nope. No industry can keep up that kind of growth--all the experts say so--and pretty soon the whole apple cart is going to collapse like a house of cards! (How's that for mixing metaphors, huh? Pretty awesome, huh?)

The whole idea is ridiculous, really, and I don't know what ass these so-called experts are pulling their information out of. Yes, they have all kinds of pie charts and actuarial wizardry behind their Apocalyptic predictions, but it sounds like a crock of BS to me. It's not like craft beer is some kind of interdependent, closely connected speculation--you know, like that whole sub-prime mortgage mess that almost sunk the economy. No, most craft breweries are independently owned businesses, set to make or break it on their own devices. Get what I'm saying? It's the American Way. A free market. If Brewer A goes belly-up, it's not likely to have much of an effect on Brewer B across town.

Of course, craft breweries do keep popping up like weeds here in Portland, Oregon, the best damn beer city in the whole freaking world. We have so many breweries, I couldn't even name them all and there's more slated to open all the time! Is Portland's craft beer market reaching the "saturation point" the experts are sounding the alarm about? Well, recent news indicates that folks in Stumptown now drink more craft beer than any other kind of beer. 45.8% of all beer consumed here is defined as "craft". So, does that mean the market is going to collapse soon? I don't think so. Of course, I'm no economist. I have no fancy doctorate hanging on my wall. I just drink a lot of beer.

Yes, I do imagine that some breweries will not stay in business--the sucky ones. Although that doesn't even seem to be the case around here. I can think of one brew pup in my own neighborhood that consistently puts out mediocre brews, but that crappy place is packed to the rafters every weekend anyway. The food is pretty meh, too, but for that joint, the blueprint for success is location, location, location.

The fact of the matter is that most people still drink beer manufactured by the Big Boys--AB-InBev and MillerCoors. Ick. Yes, craft beer is clearly taking some of the business, but it's a relatively tiny chunk. There's still TONS of room in the beer market for craft beer upstarts, I would imagine.

I do hope that most of the amazing craft brewers I love do not do much worrying and hand-wringing when they read these doomsday articles. Know that I am always here to support you...with probably about half of my disposable income. Cheers!


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