First of all, read the latest entry by Mr. Dawson over at the Beer Engine Blog about the craft beer “bubble”. He drops some science, as he is prone to do.
Second of all, I’d like to chime in on the subject, as it’s been on my mind as well. I’ll keep my observation concise, and pitch the discussion back to you citizens.
A recent article from Fortune explored the topic of Big Beer driving their “craft” beer lines. For those that have followed the rise and fall of craft beer over the last 20-30 years, or even 5-10, this article didn’t uncover any new stones. However, it did start to shed light on a more important part of the puzzle which I think if far more important than the big vs. small guy storyline; the motivations, tactics and goals of small craft brewers.
The definition of what a craft brewer is can be found here, given to us by the Brewers Association. I agree with it, and generally use it. But this is purely for the masses…for business…for the sake of discussion, understanding and categorization (much like beer styles). There is another definition, which is unstated, unscripted, and communicated more so through guts, instinct and attitude…possibly facial hair. It get’s at the grist of what it takes to have longevity.
Here it is, in my humble opinion: Craft Brewer – You are motivated to open and operate a brewery because you believe you can make something special/great, and you would like to share that something special/great with the public. Financial gain, security, notoriety, a big house, a new car, 8 hour work days, and being “cool” is not even on your radar. You are about the beer and the beer alone…everything else falls into place as it needs to. This dedication to the quality of your product will carry you through the good, the bad and the fugly. It is the single most important factor in avoiding the “bubble”, and this matters because you plan on doing this until your bones wither away.
Making beer shouldn’t be done to become rich (some people already did that…wake up.), and it shouldn’t be made because it’s trendy (go make your own trend).
In conclusion, the existing craft beer industry, community and scene should be far more concerned with marketing/branded-driven craft beer, investors, and trend-riding business people starting smaller breweries. Don’t worry about the big guys, they will do what they want, when they want, and how they want. They won’t ruin the party. It will be crashed by the people that share your home-waters. Pay attention to the fish in your pond, don’t worry about Cuthulu in the ocean.
What say you citizens?