Beverage Dynamics

Beverage Dynamics July-Aug 2014

Beverage Dynamics is the largest national business magazine devoted exclusively to the needs of off-premise beverage alcohol retailers, from single liquor stores to big box chains, through coverage of the latest trends in wine, beer and spirits.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 22 of 51 July/August 2014 • Beverage Dynamics 23 T his spring, Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, received the James Beard Award for "Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional." Although Oliver and others from the craft beer world have been nominated in this category for over a decade, it was only last year that the word "beer" was inserted into the award's title. The creative drive behind today's craft brewing is perfectly aligned with the James Beard Foundation's mission "to celebrate, nurture, and preserve America's diverse culinary heritage and future." Yet, like many other bastions of fi ne food, the venerable foundation was slow to grasp the dramatic change that has overtaken beer in the last 20 to 30 years. Phil Vettel, who chairs the Restaurant and Chef 's Committee for the foundation, de- scribed the group's thinking when the name change was enacted. "At the time, the committee felt there was so much going on in the world of craft beer and it was so infl uential that we needed to get that language into the name of the award, to have some way of honoring this work. We changed the language beginning in 2013." With that change, the foundation signaled what major culinary schools and their gradu- ates are also realizing: that the steady growth of craft beer has pushed it into the mainstream of American consumer culture. But not only in the context of fi ne dining: just as Americans came to expect something beyond "red" or "white" in their wine selections many years ago, beer drinkers are looking for a variety of craft beer from a range of outlets, whether in fi ne or casual restaurants, bars, liquor stores, grocery, big-box and even convenience stores. The growth of craft beer is fueled by an audience that extends far beyond the "beer geeks" that are its original, most ardent supporters. Craft beer continues its torrid growth, making inroads into the beer tastes of American consumers. BY JULIE JOHNSON T MORE BREWERIES, MORE BARRELS It's hard to believe that in 1980, there were fewer than 100 breweries in the U.S., and only a couple of these were brewing beer that we would recognize today as styles in the craft beer tradition. Leap to 2013: there were 2,822 brewing companies operating in the country. Of these, 2,768 were consid- ered to be craft breweries as defi ned by the Brewers Association (BA), the trade group for craft brewers, up from 2,347 in 2012. This past spring, the annual Craft Brewers Conference (CBC), hosted by the BA, ap- plauded the 1,744 potential brewing com- panies in the planning stages, about a third more than in 2012. The number of companies produc- ing specialty beer is staggering, raising the question whether some communities might be maxed out when it comes to locally-brewed beers. If that is the case, that maximum has yet to be reached. Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, told the CBC audience, "It's pretty easy for me to see that there will someday be 4,000, maybe 5,000, breweries: this could be our future as a country." The volume of craft beer is also grow- ing. Once again this past year, the U.S. craft beer volume grew at a rate that exceeded the year previous — and on a larger base. Ac- cording to the annual survey by the BA, the craft beer category grew by 18% in volume, the highest rate of growth since 2009, and at a time when overall beer volume fell by 2%. For 2013, this growth represents an increase of 2.3 million barrels of beer. It's worth wondering which consumers are being recruited into the craft fold, which breweries are accommodating these new drinkers, and which styles of craft beer are drawing them in. The BA divides it membership of craft brewers into three categories based on size and business model: brewpubs, micro- breweries and regional breweries. While all three groups grew in 2013, they do so at different rates, they experience different challenges, and to some extent, they appeal to different consumers and offer a different mix of craft styles. Brewpubs — basically a restaurant with a brewery on-site — were once the most numerous craft beer businesses. This year, they grew in number to a peak 1,237 CRAFTING PROFITS

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Beverage Dynamics - Beverage Dynamics July-Aug 2014