Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Craft Beer is Booming... But Will It Bust?

I was just coming into my legal drinking age at the end of the Craft Beer Boom & Bust of the 1990's, so I won't offer an 'expert' opinion here. I am enjoying the boom of craft beer now and have heard similarities between now and then pointed out by those who seemed to have been burned a bit by the 90's fallout. From where I sit, I simply can't imagine the industry collapsing, unless there are unforeseen national economic issues that create larger problems than a plateauing craft beer industry. Today, it seems, the American palate expects more from their food and drink - just look at the cheese or bread aisle of your local grocer to see this evidenced. I don't see this changing anytime soon.

The Miller "Brew Blog" recently raised this question of fallout in the craft beer world, also concluding that a repeat of the 90's is highly unlikely.

No one can predict the future. But plenty of indicators suggest craft beer’s run is more sustainable this time around. Here’s why:

1. Craft beers are generally of higher consistency and quality than they were in the 1990s.

2. The trading-up and customization trends are more broad-based now than it was then.

3. The operators are better. During the last runup, a lot of amateurs and speculators got into the business in hopes of making a quick fortune. That’s not the case this time – at least for now. They’ve also learned from the lessons of the 1990s.

“The companies that are here today are better than they were in the 1990s,” says Gary Fish, president of Deschutes Brewery.

Here's hoping craft beer's success over the last few years doesn't attract those looking to get rich quick, or those who would compromise the quality we enjoy today.