Thursday, March 25, 2010
... Out Like a Lamb? Not hardly...
Of course, there are choices that have to be made sometimes. Weighing the lesser of two evils or - if you are lucky - the greater of two goods. The more I go down the path of beer writer/blogger/advocate the more choices I am presented with and the more opportunities. And with those choices come compromises. Balancing those against a regular job and family life and just general responsibilities can be a daunting task. But undaunted, I press on.
A lot is going on in the world of Craft Beer these days. New breweries opening, long-standing ones being sold, and new offerings appears on shelves. Distribution is increasing and beers previously unavailable in certain markets are suddenly there. Fellow beer writer Ken Weaver described the craft beer situation in America these days as "an embarrassment of riches", and I have to agree. And its one of those times you have to be happy about being embarrassed. Here in Florida, the news is encouraging. More craft breweries opening up, more events being held, and more beers are becoming available. In fact, the shelf-space is becoming limited for all the new stuff coming in, and buyers are having to make choices about what to stock! A good problem to have, I suppose, but it got me thinking.
Is there a peak that we might reach where there is TOO much craft beer out there? How much will the market bear? According to studies and reports I have read recently, the craft beer industry increased sales over the past few years while macro-beer sales have fallen. In fact, the craft been industry is one of the few that have actually grown in this uncertain and unstable economy. If you think about market share, we still have a LOT of room to grow. But how does that growth happen and what does it look like? Does it mean more production from the current breweries? More breweries opening up? Larger and more far-reaching distribution? More local consumption?
The future of the industry is unclear, bu not uncertain. I don't think there is much that could stop the increasing momentum short of another Prohibition, and all signs point to the opposite happening. Greater acceptance and understanding of craft beer is taking hold, and it is also being recognized as a stable and positive economic addition to any local market. More and more craft beer is moving up the ladder of respect, and the brewers recognized not only in their niche but in a larger capacity as business people and artisans.
The coming months should prove to be interesting and exciting ones. I have been invited by the brewer of a yet-to-open brewery to sample some of his recipes, asked to help organize a craft beer pub crawl downtown, and expect to attend a few special events in the area. Things are happening in St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay, and all of it good!