Thursday, April 18, 2013

Beer Today....Gone Tomorrow?

Though there are few left who may remember, the United States was home to over 1,200 Breweries just before Prohibition reared its' beastly demon head.

As of March 2013 there are 2,416 total breweries in the U.S. of which 2,360 are Craft! So we can breath easy, right?

Well, this would be a short post if I said yes, wouldn't it be? I am of course referring to the ominous Craft Beer Bubble, caused by market over saturation of course. So let's visit both sides of the argument shall we?

The bubble is coming the bubble is coming!

Lets start with Brewer & Founder of Boston Beer Company's Jim Koch's opinion on the matter. Late last year, Koch, in an article titled "Drinking With Jim Koch" said that the "craft beer bubble [is] near a popping point. The market share could grow to 10 percent by the end of the decade, but most stores have reached their limit for all the new breweries."

Are we nearing this pop? The shelves in the bottle shops near me are ever changing. When a brewery comes in and doesn't sell well, it goes right back out. Can a store stock all the beer there is to be had? Yes of course, but is it viable, these stores are in it for profit. Don't get me wrong, many are craft friendly and appreciate quality product and quality service, but they are still in it for a profit (Yay Capitalism!). With an ever expanding selection from an ever expanding amount of breweries, how can the market keep up?

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - Charles Caleb Colton
But is it? When you fall short of quality ingredients and compromise on taste just to join the bandwagon, how can the growth survive? I must say, the best thing about Beer, is the people who you enjoy drinking it with. And boy do I know some amazing beer geeks! People who aren't easily fooled by these imitators, these jokers of the hop, these green eyed entrepreneurs who get caught up in the money game behind beer. No, they are not! 

Bubble, What Bubble?

As described in Harry Schumacher's article titled "The Second Craft Beer Revolution: Will It Stick This Time", from 1987 to 1996 beer was a flourishing business. Through those years volume was up 40 to 60 percent, and in 1987 it was up more than 100 percent. These were the days of such legendary brands as Pete's Wicked and Celis, along with some not so legendary brands as Spring Street and Rhino Chasers. But in 1997 all came crashing down, Pop Went the Beer Bubble! 

Now you may say it is looking very familiar in today's market, it's all just going to crash. But I am going to give you some of my reasons why I just can't believe that. The first being the consumer, yes I am talking about you, and I am talking about me. Add in open information and beer rating websites like and and you have got the Sherman Tank to blast the hell out that bubble and keep on keepin' on!

Why? Well that is something the last century didn't have. Beer people, especially beer geeks, stay very well informed and in a world where there are new breweries opening up everyday, they are the first line of consumer defense. If brewery is in it for the money, and the quality just isn't there, that brewery won't last long. Hell, the minute one of the big breweries releases a "Crafty" brand and tries to sneak it into the market, the beer geeks know about it. This is the very reason why this is not a bubble. If you can't cut it as a quality product you will eventually be feeling it in your pocket book. Evolution at its' finest, only the strong survive!!

The second reason I see no need to fear is the focus on the local. I have said this before in posts and I am saying it again. Local Breweries servicing local areas first is the best indicator of a strong industry that will survive (with a good business plan). 

So if you believe there is a Craft Beer bubble and want to run screaming for the hills to build your bunker, by all means do so. But you will find me at my local Brewery and bottle shop, raising a glass to the industry with class!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Beerconomics... Dayton, Ohio

The Dayton, Ohio region is blooming into a craft beer destination. As our fair city has weathered such financial hardships as NCR leaving, GM closing its' doors, and countless businesses folding, an economic resurgence could be on the horizon. And it could be fueled by Beer!

With nearly a dozen breweries and brewpubs around the region opening doors in the next year, why not embrace the economic benefits of beer.

Breweries add jobs, jobs add income to cities and the state, and great breweries add tourism. A brewery district in the city of Dayton would be a welcomed economic oasis for the region, relaxing the ability for such businesses to get licensing, offering tax breaks, and creating an attraction downtown like no other. The steps to cleaning up our city rests with the ability to make it a friendly inviting place to visit and live and this just may be the key to accomplishing it.

Cities such as San Diego, Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and even Cleveland have embraced the beer community and have capitalized from it. Creating districts boasting multiple beer venues.

The economic impact of beer is astounding, and has worked for both city and statewide benefits. For instance the economic impact of Texas Craft Beer topped $608 Million in 2011, and could reach $5.6 billion within the decade

There is money to be made and plenty of vacant buildings to go round, and a city planned district involving some helpful incentives could lure existing commercial breweries to come to the area for expansion. Breweries such as Oskar Blues, New Belgium, and Epic Brewing have all attempted to expand their reach into new territories by currently building breweries in other States.

Is there a market in Dayton? Without a doubt! The ever expanding array of Craft Beer festivals in the area have tripled in attendance in the past five years, the explosion of new beer spots has increased, and craft beer in general has seen a market increase to over 10% of all U.S. dollars spent on beer, and in 2012 6.5% of the total volume of beer purchased in the U.S. was craft, up from 5.7% in 2011. 

What about the bubble? A highly debated subject among invested craft beer enthusiasts. 

In an article titled "No Bubble For Craft Beer: Industry Pioneer" 

Homebrewing pioneer Charlie Papazian was quoted as saying, 

There are a lot of people that think we’re in a bubble and it’s going to burst but we’re not in a bubble. We are knee-deep in foam (laughing) and it’s rising all around us. By 2017, [the Brewers Association] anticipates pretty confidently that we'll have 10 percent of the volume, and at that point, the momentum will take us pass that.”

In my humble opinion, if we are indeed in the midst of a bubble ready to blow, it may bring people back to a more local-centric way of purchasing and drinking beer and weed out those who are unable to cut it in the industry which is inevitable as more choices become available.

To conclude my ramble, Dayton needs to embrace the economic benefits of beer, and in turn we can clean up our city and become a national destination once again. 

- Check out another great Dayton Beer Blog written by Kevin Gray Here  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The State of Beer...

By David Ranly 4/3/13

The White Whale, a tale as old as time itself. While most tales end with the adventure being what truly matters in the end, a "Beer Geek's" tale is quite different.

The consistent rise of the craft beer industry year in and year out is quite a tale to tell, with the amount of breweries cropping up each year nearly doubling. Ebay beer sales have been banned, trading and shipping is becoming difficult not only for the risk but for the ability to trade your local lot for another. Washed in a mass of posts for the latest and greatest release is your ISO: Nugget Nectar FT: Locals. Surrounded by posts like ft: bcbcs, westy 12, kre iso: kbsWhat have we become?

The Question...

Where have all the Beer Geeks gone?!? Are we truly turning into snobs? 

I can hardly walk out of my local bottle shop with a six pack of Two Hearted Ale without feeling I have been cheated in some way, "this was too easy," I tell myself. Does anyone buy a six pack of beer anymore? 

Am I the only Beer Geek who feels like they have gone full circle and would rather buy a readily available beer than chase down the latest release of KBS at the 5 closest bottle shops? Perhaps I am not, perhaps there are those out there willing to stand up to the ridiculous price some people put on bottles..

But Dave, "Your last post was about Dark Lord Stout, you damn snob." 

Well yes, I have chased the whales, in fact 90% of the beers I have tasted that have sold for over $100 a bottle, were nowhere near worth the insane price the supply and demand have placed on them. 

Throughout the past year I have seen some heavy hitting craft breweries take advantage of the very people who have made them a lot of money. I have seen fist fights over the fact that the last of the Hopslam was sold an hour ago, and I have seen retailers sell a $9 bottle of beer for over $50 because they could. 

Who is to blame? Ourselves of course. I refuse to be treated like a dumb consumer. Superbowl commercials are for those people, you know the one with the yellow swill in the bottle being less important than "WeeGo" delivering the stuff poolside.

The Future...

Buy Local! Yes, it is not just a phrase for the environmentally conscious anymore! 

With the massive influx of new breweries across the land, this should be getting easier to do. 5 are slated to open near me in just the next few months. 

Now I am not telling you to abandon all others for the Localvore tastes, but consider it in your next purchase of beer. Hell, I am not even trying to tell you to stop chasing the "White Whale" just try to ponder who is really in control of your purchasing power. Don't let yourself get taken advantage of, we all have the power to demand more from our Breweries, look how far we have come in just the past 5 years.