Craft beer in 2018 was largely defined by consolidation. While the consolidation of craft brands is not a new story, the past year saw many brands consolidate product lines and distribution footprints. This is a more conservative tack than we’ve seen in years past, and it can be seen as a direct result of increased competition. Many brands were forced to scale back ambitious growth plans, lest they end up like Green Flash, which went from a Brewers Association Top 50 brewery to foreclosure in a matter of months. to foreclosure in a matter of months.
Craft Beer is Growing Fast
Craft beer is growing fast breweries are growing fast, and resorting less to clogged and monopolized retail channels, and more in favor of taproom sales, which will encourage the community aspect at the heart of craft.
Demographically, things are looking up for craft. No longer just a sanctuary for real-life versions of The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy, women now comprise 32 percent of the overall craft beer market, with the 21-34 subset representing 15 percent of total craft drinking volume, according to a Revel Systems report.
The coming year’s potential to focus on lighter, more palatable styles should serve to bring in more new beer drinkers, as well as the growth of hard soda and seltzer categories.
Report indicates that craft beer drinking among the Hispanic demographic is projected to grow by 31 percent this year, according to Beer Connoisseur.com
58% Of Craft Beer Drinkers Are Millennials
Millennials remain firm as craft’s strongest proponents, comprising 58 percent of the craft drinking constituency. As the majority, this group will largely dictate what styles become popular and what methods of packaging, branding and sales are successful. So, for those in the industry, this is an important group to consider when making business decisions.
Given the highly competitive nature of a 7000+ brewery climate, knowing what you do and don’t do well will go a long way. Last year’s industry outlook emphasized the value in focusing on specific styles and learning to do more within their stylistic confines, if not redefining them entirely. 2019 will weed out breweries producing anything less than great, consistent product, and having a focused stylistic wheelhouse will increase the odds of standing out.