By Rieva Lesonsky
The craft beer industry has doubled its profits in just five years—and the glass is still half-full.
Since 600 A.D. when Saint Arnold of Metz helped end a plague by convincing people to drink beer rather than impure water, beer has been a staple beverage. Craft breweries really hit their stride in the early 2000s and have been growing exponentially ever since. Forecast to reach $36.3 billion by 2019, the craft beer industry is profiting from enthusiasts happy to pay more for brews that offer something more than run-of-the-mill macro lagers. Consisting of mostly Millennials, but definitely not limited to that crowd, craft beer drinkers place a high value on image and believe the brand and style of beer they prefer says a lot about them, a Mintel study reports.
Now, in order to help boost local economies, cities are embracing the craft beer culture and providing funds for startup breweries. Joining the farm-to-table movement, craft brewers are concentrating on the hyper-local angle and testing the limits of taste by infusing locally grown coffee, spices and fruits into their beers. Ironfire Brewing Company in Temecula, California, produces a brew using locally produced avocado honey; Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan, uses locally grown cherries for their Cherry Stout. Craft breweries are not only expanding their product lines by adding distilled spirits, but craft cideries are also jumping into the mix.
Early on, macro breweries tried to quash the craft brew movement (as a threat to profits). But today, high-volume (macro) beer producers are not only embracing craft culture, they are also doing their best to hide their big-guy roots behind crafty-sounding names like Blue Moon and Shock Top. The tactic hasn’t fooled craft brew lovers, who are even more determined to seek out unique brews—and its increased awareness of and demand for true craft beers. As more bars and restaurants request locally brewed beers on their menus, the future for craft brews is overflowing with promise.
Photo courtesy: Ironfire Brewing Company
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva.