The Craft Beer Boom
Although Anheuser-Busch and SABMiller are the biggest brewers out there, producing well-known brands like Budweiser and Coors Light, they’re certainly not the only option for beer lovers. In the past few years, craft beer sales have exploded, proving that American consumers love the unique tastes that come out of microbreweries.
Craft beer, for those who are hazy on the definition, is typically defined as a beer produced by a small independent brewery. These breweries strive to produce both traditional and innovative flavors through their brewing and fermentation practices. There are many different types of beers produced by craft breweries, such as brown ales, IPAs, barley wines, and even drinks as rich as chocolate stout.
According to an infographic produced by Kendall College’s School of Hospitality, 36% of consumers say they drink craft beer. That number went up to 43% when only Millenials (adults between the ages of 25 and 34) were polled. Since Millenials are considered tastemakers for food and drink trends, we’ll likely see that number increase even more in the next few years.
One of the biggest things that’s going to help the sale of craft beers grow is greater awareness. Close to half (45% of consumers) say that they would try more craft beers if they knew more about them—and there’s no shortage of information out there for those who take the time to look. Local breweries often offer tours and tastings, and a quick Google search yields seemingly endless results for craft beer and food pairings (curry with an IPA, anyone?). For people who want to pick up craft beer at the grocery store but are unsure what constitutes a craft beer, there’s an app that will scan a beer’s bar code and let you know. With so many craft beer enthusiasts who are eager to share their knowledge, it certainly seems like craft beer is going to be more than just a passing trend.
So why does the craft beer boom matter? For one thing, it’s incredibly good news for anyone interested in going into the food and drink industry. While the total US employment has increased by a modest 4% in the last 13 years, jobs in the food and beverage industry have jumped by 25%. As of 2012, there were 2,403 breweries in the US—the highest number of breweries in our country since the 1880s. There were also an estimated 103,585 craft brewery jobs (including serving staff at brew pubs) in 2012.
The sales of craft beer totaled $5.7 billion in 2007 and this is projected to triple by 2017. With such a high demand for craft beer, more and more colleges and culinary schools are beginning to offer Beverage Management programs in order to prepare students for careers in the brewery world.
For anyone who has ever had an interest in the production of craft beer, now is the time to break into the industry. Any brewery that can capture the flavors and aesthetic that consumers are clamoring for will find themselves well-positioned for growth in the coming years.