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Washington Post: Bubble Has Not Burst on Craft Beer Market

May 7, 2012


From The Washington Post:

The world almost seems flipped on its side — a revolution has happened,” reported Benj Steinman, president of the trade publication Beer Marketer’s Insight, in assessing the state of craft brewing.

Steinman was addressing a crowd at the 2012 Craft Brewers Conference that unfolded May 2-5 amidst the gentle sea breezes and swaying palms of San Diego. Most of the news from the conference was good, often spectacularly so. Craft beer finished 2011 up 13 percent in volume and 15 percent in dollars, according to Paul Gatza, president of the Brewers Association, which organized the event. There were 250 openings and only 37 closings last year, pushing the total number of breweries in the United States to 1,989. That figure has now exceeded 2,000, he added, joking that another two nanobreweries probably went online during his turn at the podium.

Under the circumstances, keynote speaker Steve Hindy, former AP Middle East correspondent and co-founder of the Brooklyn Brewery, could be forgiven a little boasting. “I’m sure you all had someone walk into your brewery and ask, ‘Did you ever imagine it getting this big?’ I answer, ‘Hell, yes!’”

The disturbing news was that, according to Gatza, there are currently 1,119 additional breweries in the planning stage.

Disturbing?

There is fear within the industry that there might be a bubble about to burst, that the burgeoning number of new brands could push distribution channels to the breaking point. It scares at least one Mid-Atlantic brewer, who nevertheless was planning an expansion to keep apace with the competition.

But those worries didn’t spoil the party.

The BrewExpo Trade Show was rife with innovations in packaging, including a disposable clear plastic keg; a growler that resembles a milk carton; and a spout-top can with a resealable screw-on cap. The latter is “great for kickball; you can knock it over and not spill any,” said Chad Melis, spokesman for the Colorado-based Oskar Blues brewery.

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For the full article, visit www.washingtonpost.com.


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