6 days ago World Class Beverages made an interesting post on their blog about some craft brewers esentially claiming the market is too over saturated. It’s an interesting post and worth a read. In fact, the replies are more interesting then the article. As usual Greg Koch and his fanboys rode in on their high horse blaiming everyone for their problems and pushing their ideoligies. I remember when he did that to my blog. This time though it seems to have backfired on Greg as the majority aren’t taking his side. Have people wised up? This isn’t what I wanted to talk about though. I want to talk about a comment on the post by JJ.
“I find it odd that the new breed of brewers feel the need to establish nationwide distribution. Isn’t that what led us down the path to begin with? The rally cry of the Craft Brewer’s Association used to be “Support Your Local Brewery.” Somewhere along the line, either the message changed, or someone missed the original memo.”
His comment seems to be right along the lines of something that has begun bothering me recently. Breweries are changing, but so are their customers. Doing research on the history of brewing you get a general idea of what customer base drank what beer. Before the early days of craft brewing anyone who thought they knew anything about good beer drank imported beer. Even in the 50′s there were people with low opinions of American beer. Back during the hippie movement there was a big rise in the artisinal movement as well. People, especially on the west coast, began doing things themselves that corporations had done for them in the 40′s. This movement saw home brewing move from a moonshine style business to a more artisinal aproach.
These early artisinal homebrewers were also the early craft beer drinkers. They started a movement that focosed on drinking local beer produced by people you knew. Slowly though artisinal has become craft, and the customers are no longer just the local homebrewers. There has been alot of talk about the wineification of beer, but less attention has been paid to the fact that as craft beer proliferates the customer base has become more diverse. Now your seeing what the Doc calls beer cheerleaders. People who drink craft beer because it’s craft beer. You have the beeradvocate crowd, wandering from release to release. You have beer snobs purchasing only the best. As brewers try to reach all these people at once how will it change the market? We seem to be moving more towards a model of limited releases and large lineups rather then the old model of a flagship and 4 or 5 year to year seasonals. Is this a direction we want to go?