The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday, is an activity where beer bloggers from around the world get together (not literally) to write their own perspective on a single topic. Each month, the Session is hosted by a different beer blogger.
Host Derek Harrison at It’s Not Just The Alcohol Talking has announced the topic for The Session #80: “Is Craft Beer a Bubble?”
It’s a good time to be in the craft beer industry. The big brewers are watching their market share get chipped away by the purveyors of well-made lagers and ales. Craft breweries are popping up like weeds.
This growth begs the question: is craft beer a bubble? Many in the industry are starting to wonder when, and more importantly how, the growth is going to stop. Is craft beer going to reach equilibrium and stabilize, or is the bubble just going to keep growing until it bursts?
Facts, charts and rather or not we are heading for the big fan in the ceiling
Bryan over at ThisIsWhyI'mDrunk.com has done an outstanding job of saying basically all that could and ever should, be said about the craft beer bubble. The open discussion as turned each of the one, two and three parts over and over until Bryan himself is like of those artistic hippie street people making human size bubbles with stringed together sticks and some soap water.
[caption id="attachment_1919" align="alignnone" width="624"] Ohh Pretty! The craft beer bubble can get pretty big (photo source)[/caption]
This is what a market bubbles look like:
Thank you Bryan.
This craft beer bubble was been a bother to a lot of industry writers and, other than the through and eloquent Mr.ThisIsWhyI'mDrunk, the Brewer's Association has a great article that covers in detail many other elements of the confusion: The craft beer (non) bubble,
"Craft’s market share is strongest amongst the youngest generations, it is driven by 2,500 innovating brewers attuned to local markets, and together these consumers and producers are helping shift American beer culture. We see this in the fact that markets with the strongest craft presence continue to grow. Oregon, one of the most mature craft markets in the country, still saw production volume grow by 11% in 2012."
Fact: if young generations like something, there will be growth
False: There isn't room for one more brewery! (If Oregon can fit more, then so can you.)
And then the Brewer's Association gives this chart as an example of what chaos can really look like:
The graph to the left charts the current rise in the number of brewing facilities (from Dec. 2007 – Aug. 2013) versus the NASDAQ close for the same number of months during the Dotcom boom and bust (Oct. 1998 – June 2004).
There are ups and downs in any market system but we don't seem to be doing TOO bad.
Craft beer culture isn't about money grubbing and greed but about people doing what they love and sharing that with their community. Not all breweries will be New Belgium or Sam Adams with massive amounts of growth.
Slow growth- yes please!
Most uprising breweries just want to make good drink for their friends and family with enough money left over to pay the bills, support their brewing habits and experiment a little.
Think Global, Drink Local
Not only does slow growth put oil in the soap bin but breweries what create a niche in their local community will be supported by that community if things get rough. Think about the planet in it's entirety and help maintain the balance of earth by supporting your local community. What better to way to support your community then to drink beer made by your neighbors.
Selfishly thinking about themselves again, Americans ask the question "what about our wild growth of breweries? What shall we do?" Boo hoo. I don't know what my Aussie, Canadian and UK beer bloggers have to say about this but in France, we could use a lot more growth. We have room. The world has room.
America might be expanding, charting and eye balling it's craft beer bubbles like home brewers glued to an airlock, (are there bubbles?!) but most of the rest of the world is still at the "lets add hops," or maybe the "lets add MORE hops," phase.
If America has a craft beer bubble that pops (ninkasi forbid) then us over seas people will finally be able to get our hands on some of that awesome beer you Americans are hoarding (I'm looking at you Ballast Point, Dogfish Head and Russian River, to name a few.)
Is craft beer a bubble?
I say yeah, sure, maybe but not really or not at all. We don't know yet.
We are doing the right thing in keeping an eye on it.
Craft beer is a sustainable process (source: history) and even if Rogue Brewing crumbles like a hipster with kombucha poisoning, there will always be beer.
Long live global beer that is drank by the locals!
Nitch signing off crossing her fingers that American's beer bubble bursts and they all have to sell overseas- Bwahahaa!