Tag Archives: craft beer and the environment

Ask The Beer Counselor: What Is The Future?

One thing that happens when I talk to distributor or brewery reps when they come by Craft to either sell me beer or drink beer as patrons, is the future of the American craft beer industry.  I will stipulate that I can barely tell you what my future is over the next 10 months.  So any ideas I have about American craft beer over the next 10 years should be taken with a grain of salt.  I do hope, however, you find this stimulating.

I would like to give a hat tip to The Brew Enthusiast for posting a similar piece a couple of days ago.  His piece got me thinking as I hope mine does for you. Additionally, part of my motivation was to try and find different things that he did not mention in his piece.

Beer will be really big or really small

The primary thing I see happening over the next 10 years is craft brewers will either by really big or really small.  By that I mean, the older established brewers, particularly those that survived the first craft beer boom in the 1990s, will be national breweries.  Think Sierra Nevada or Oskar Blues or a conglomerate like Craft Beer Alliance.  These breweries have large national followings as well as breweries across the country that give them the feel of local breweries.  On the other side, if you look at the Brewer’s Association statistics the explosive growth in the number of craft brewers is fed by the growth of nanobrewing and smaller local breweries serving their surrounding cities and counties.  The group of breweries in the middle, the regional sized brewers who just want to distribute to one or two states are the ones that will be in a dangerous position of trying to be both things: small and large at the same time.

Uniformity in law

The alcohol laws in this country are a messy hodgepodge created out of prohibition, regional mores, and tax burdens.  As the craft beverage industry has grown in economic clout, many of the laws in each state have come under needed attack to make them fairer for producers and easier to navigate for consumers.  Just in the last year you can see the push to make these laws more uniform across the country.  Cities and counties across the country are strapped for tax revenue and the beer business is a way to stimulate growth in failing industrial areas and create tourism.  Changing local and statewide alcohol laws are a way to stimulate the craft beer industry.  One of the things I will say is that even as craft beverage manufacturers get more flexibility with laws distributors and wholesalers will not lose any of their economic clout or political power.  The primary reason for that is many of the most powerful state politicians around the country are also some of the biggest alcohol distributors in their states.  Those with power do not let go easily.

Beer and the environment

Brewers will be forced to take a bigger role in environmental sustainability.  Many already do.  The reason for this is quite simple: At its core brewing is an agricultural business that uses lots of water. Creating brewing processes that use less water or recycle water is something that must be done.  Figuring out ways to repurpose, reuse, or recycle the other ingredients used also must be done.  As I said, many brewers are already doing that.  Many brewers are also using the farm-to-table model of using only local ingredients and other brewers are using the farmhouse brewery model to cut out any of the middlemen.  I love both of those movements and think they will both become more and more important to the craft beer world as the industry progresses.

Beer culture is more than just a fad

This is a culture with a deep vein in all of human history.  The depth of beer culture is more akin to comic books. Both have a deep and strong core of geeks who, while the minority of the people who enjoy it, will never leave and never let the culture go away.   Also, beer culture is growing because the depth and breadth of the ancillary businesses sprouting up around craft beer is amazing.  Not just bars and magazines and those types of things, but businesses that come along and try to enhance (or take advantage of) the experience of craft beer.  This is the reason I don’t think this is a fad that will disappear.

These are just a few ideas and thoughts.  They aren’t quite complete and I reserve the right to change them over the next ten years.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 11/10/15

The Five Articles, a little late, but always on time today.  A new review went up yesterday of the Wicked Weed Tyranny and Brett Tyranny.  Working on tomorrow’s post, which is more of a “think piece” (I really hate that term).

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 11/4/15

On my return to the Five Articles, let me just say, sleep isn’t overrated. I needed a break for two reasons.  One, I’m not getting enough sleep to get up a write like I need to.  Two, I got tired of reading the same articles over and over.  I’m going  to be making some changes to make sure I get up early enough to get all the writing done I need to get done to keep myself sane.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 10/24/15

It’s Football Saturday.  Both kinds and that makes me happy.  Also making me happy, is the idea that tomorrow I’ll be able to sit and enjoy a few good beers tomorrow while watching another round of both kinds of football throughout the day.  Enough about me, on to the Five Articles.  You’ll notice something isn’t being mentioned today which is another thing I’m thankful for this Saturday.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 9/1/15

The first day of September starts with good news for me.  Gravity Magazine just dropped on the public today and I am excited.  You can download a PDF copy of the magazine or go find a copy around Charlotte, you’ll love it.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 7/25/15

Saturdays are the days when news organizations unleash their B-teams on the news world and you get a lot of fluff pieces and no real news.  So, if you’re trying to create a list of the best news stories to read on Saturday morning you work with you get, and today I got a pretty good group of stories to work with.  Here are the five.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 7/8/15

After taking a little time off, it has been a little difficult to get back into the swing of things, but that will change after today.  Here is today’s links.

  • The week that I started this blog, the story of raising the distribution cap for North Carolina breweries was just getting warmed up. The cap was defeated.  It wasn’t defeated by a vote, but by parliamentary maneuvering that kept it from coming to a vote.  Anyway, the story will not die and it will come back to the legislature.  While on one hand I think breweries were overly ambitious in their request to go from 25,000 barrels to 100,000  and a little naive as to the power of the wholesalers and distributors, I agree the distribution cap should be raised.
  • This is the type of argument that will work for those trying to change beer laws to make the lives of craft breweries easier around the country. Brewers taking old, unwanted, and unused properties and rehabbing them for purposes of brewing beer and raising tax revenue is a true story told all across the country.  For states and municipalities that are having trouble meeting budgets because of tax shortfalls finding new businesses to breath life into business districts is an argument that people who don’t like beer must respect.
  • Marketing craft beer has to be hard. On one hand, you have a core of consumers who don’t want to be marketed to and care only that your product is good.  They will find out about you without the help of TV ads and they crave the independent spirit authenticity of craft beer.  On the other hand, you have the curious normal people who you somehow have to get the word out to while maintaining the authenticity they covet. So, how do you market to people who don’t want to be marketed to?
  • I love anything that helps make craft beer a more local product. The deeper I have gotten into craft beer the more I seek out stories and beers with a farm to pint mentality.  Here is another such story out of Iowa.
  • I am surprised that more high-end grocery stores in suburban areas aren’t doing this. Putting taps in grocery stores for tastings and growler fills seems like a no brainer for those types of stores.  That would be catnip for their customer bases.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 7/1/15

Links for a Wednesday.  Sorry they are late, I watched the US/Germany match twice last night.

  • The craft beer business is in an interesting time. It took a while but the big mass market brewers finally took notice a few years ago and started buying some craft concerns.  Goose Island was one of them. This allows the smaller beer companies to get an expansion to other markets.  However, this comes at a time when the local food, slow food, farm to table movements are gaining steam.  The idea of beer is an agricultural product has caught hold.  That means it tastes best when it is made with fresh ingredients and you can get the product as close to its kegging/bottling/canning date as possible.  Drinkers and brewers are starting to notice this fact. Most of the breweries that have started commercial operations in the last couple of years are nano-breweries producing small amounts of beer for their local customers.
  • Growlers are spreading across the nation. Every time they are allowed in a new market, local news covers it like it is the strangest thing in the world. “You can go to a bar and take home the beer? How is this possible?”
  • Craft brewers are at the forefront of making brewing more environmentally sustainable. Again, this goes back to the increased localization of craft brewing.  Even with their massive operation coming to Asheville and the surrounding area, Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues, and New Belgium are taking extreme care to be environmentally friendly and to be part of the community as much a large national corporation can.
  • Here is a slide show and short write up of the NC Brewer’s Celebration held in Charlotte over the weekend. I was not able to attend, but I can tell you a lot of people went to the festival.  Then a lot of them came over to Craft afterwards.  A lot.
  • And we are still arguing over what is craft beer and what isn’t. It is a tiring and somewhat silly argument.  All I want is this, brewers to tell me where their beer was made and what they used to make it.  If it tastes good I’ll drink it.  If it is local even better.  If the ingredients are as fresh and as local as possible then I’ll jump for joy (metaphorically).  Just stop using the term craft as a cudgel against mass market beer.  Actually, let me change that.  I just ask mass market brewers to stop creating brands and then alluding to them being craft. I just want truth in advertising.  We the consumers know what is good and what isn’t.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 6/9/15

Here are today’s links.  There will be a beer review coming up later tonight.  It is going through our rigorous editing process.

Look for the new beer review around 9 pm tonight.  I want to get it posted before the basketball game.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 5/21/15

There were almost too many links today to choose from. From a great video on Beer Geek TV about how the smaller craft breweries are beginning to get crowded out of shelf space to brewery news from Greenville/Spartanburg.  I decided to concentrate on a question I get a lot at the bar and news from Charlotte, Asheville, and around North Carolina.

I was one review short this week, so my goal next week is to get an extra review or some other type of post completed for Monday.