More Bubbles…

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.

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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.

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What say you citizens?

10 thoughts on “More Bubbles…

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  1. Ever so true. As with any appreciated craft (bicycle building, bread baking, brewing, etc.) there will always be a market for something locally produced. Hostess=Miller, Bakers Wife=Indeed brewing. Case in point: When InBev decided to change the types of hops used in Budweiser in order to add a percent to share worth. If they had any pride at all, they would’ve sucked it up, took a lap and paid the extra for the hops they’ve used for almost a hundred years.

  2. Because of the current economic climate becoming rich is not possible like it once was. If you want to live comfortably, that is still possible. In order to accomplish this through craft brewing, or in any industry, it must be centered on a love for your craft and a dedication to community and region. Unfortunately, the world is dominated by mega corporations. Forget competing on a mega scale. Maintaining a community and region around your craft, whether that’s beer or whatever, is the only way to produce a living off of expressing what you love. I’m all for small scale, and seeing that passion in what people do. I am not alone in this sentiment. It’s the only way to keep craft anything alive!

  3. It’s time you and Mike open a brewery and have a show similar to what you did on BTV. I’d have no problem with you guys becoming rich off craft beer.

  4. I would like to think that history can repeat itself, at least in this aspect: breweries grow big and then go out of business, because people’s tastes are fickle and a given flavor profile fails to meet expectations, whether it’s from palates changing over time or innovators providing something new. It happened once upon a time and may happen again – I like what I like at least right now. That happens to be homebrew and certain crafts and niche beers, with a macro thrown in from time to time (but much less frequently than ever before in my life).

  5. Looking from outside in, I must say that a giant nation that is the U.S.A. and it’s Giant Thrust for beer meant that the mega brewers were inevitable and almost necessary to quench a nation’s thrust. What’s toxic is the advertizing, the litter waste and the all consuming nature of our culture. You can hardly imagine an event not sponsored by a beer or a energy bar or something corporate. This cultural reality goes way beyond beer.

    Perhaps that is why crafting goes way beyond beer as well. The growing craft brewer hobby and hobby turn craft brewer (not sure that makes sense) is part of a much larger crafting movement that has every corner of the country interested in making everything they can. The growing market for a corner brewery will likely continue to fill its bar and tables with crafting enthusiasts first only to turn them into craft beer enthusiasts.

    I suppose that I’m a little bias as I am a potter turned home brewer. This was my route and I see it with many of my crafting peers. The only problem is that I feel like I’m on the moon having moved from the U.S. to Austria. The only collective I could find of crafters (slowcraft.at) consists of Austrians who once lived in the U.S. So, I look from the outside in and wonder what I could trade my goods for. A set of bowls for a pair of handmade shoes? A keg of ale for mural in my kids room?

    Our home brews and our local craft brewers are part of a growing fabric of American craft culture who’s seat at the table will not be given up any time soon.

  6. Just few euro cents from across The Pond. It’s worldwide tendency. Big Beer here is doing EXACTLY the same. And no wonder. Those are transcontinental, greedy corporate zombies.

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