Friday, June 8, 2012

Craft beer still a bunch of minnows swimming with sharks

You think there is a craft beer explosion in America, right? After all, it's EVERYWHERE. You look in this mainstream publication and there is an article on craft beer, you look at the tap list of that restaurant and you notice that they now have craft beer on tap. That's great! Even your formerly lousy beer shop now carries a great selection of craft beer. For craft beer lovers both aged and young, right now is a beautiful time to be a beer lover. We're in the midst of a revolution!

But are we?

To an extent, yes, we certainly are -- the craft explosion is awesome and inspiring! -- but before we American lovers of good beer get ahead of ourselves and think we're about to conquer the beer world for good, let's take a look at reality.

Craft beer still makes up just about 7% of the American beer marketplace as of August 2010. That sucks. This despite double-digit increases in craft beer for several years in a row. And it ain't no different now in 2012.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the giant intermultinationalconglomeratejuggernautbeastcorporation best known for Budweiser, is a full 50% of the American beer marketplace. If you want good beer, that sucks. And it gets worse. MillerCoors -- and YES, seeming rivals Miller and Coors are a joint operation, and they are responsible for popular pseudo-craft beers like Blue Moon -- makes up another 29% of the market.

Go ahead. Chew on those numbers for a bit.

We craft beer lovers, we think we're taking over the world. All the evidence appears to be in our favor, too. Growler stations are now commonplace. People are talking about good beer. We can suddenly get decent beer all more easily than ever before. Even crappy beer shops at least carry mainstays like Samuel Adams and Sierra Nevada now, and in the vast majority of cases they carry much more. All of a sudden, being into good beer seems like the NORM.

But it's not. Statistically speaking, we craft beer lovers remain far more likely to encounter a macro drinker than someone who loves craft beer. We are, by the numbers, a deep, deep minority in the beer world. You see, despite the explosion of craft beer, most people (in America, at least) still prefer weak tasting, light lagers.

And that's a fact.

So what does that mean for us enthusiasts?
Not a damn thing. Doesn't matter what Joe Six-Pack drinks as long as we have a wealth of craft beer available to us.

Because dammit, just drink what you like. Enjoy it. SAVOR it. Tell others when they ask what you like and don't throw it in their face when their tastes do not match your own. And maybe, just maybe, you'll win a few converts.

That's all you can ask. 'Cause despite your perceptions, we craft beer lovers are still a HUGE minority. So let's not knock one another when there are bigger targets to knock.


Eric is this beer-drinking author. He is also the founder of Your Awesome Editor. You want some awesome text, he is your guy.


  1. Mostly agree here. It's growing at a faster pace than ever before, but we are such a small percentage of the consumption that's actually out there.

  2. That's the thing. We think we've conquered the world, or are at least on the verge of doing so, but we're far from that.

    While the goal isn't to have a craft brewer replace, say, Budweiser -- in which case they're nothing more than the new Bud! -- it IS to make everyone understand that taste comes first.

    And by the numbers, those people are a slim, slim, slim minority.

    Which always comes to mind when craft beer people fight amongst themselves over who is "real" craft or not, or what does or does not suck.

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