Small versus large. Independent versus commercialized. Traditional versus mainstream-modern. We’re talking about the David of beer versus the Goliath of beer – and David is growing.
According to the figures released by the American Brewers Association for the first half of 2011, dollar sales for America’s craft brewers were up 15 percent. In tandem, the amount in volume of craft beer sold grew 14 percent. (In case you’re wondering, that “volume” we’re referring to is about 5.1 million barrels).
Craft breweries epitomize how the old can become new again; they are innovators of historic traditions – following conventional methods and practices while searching for a unique spin to bring their brew to uncharted territories.
What’s behind this trend? It’s as simple as what’s happening with menu and produce trends – more Americans are choosing to “go local.” And with that, making a choice to support craft breweries in their own backyards. There’s a connectedness that happens, a bond that forms between the brew of choice and the chooser. It’s like eating a vegetable from your own garden – it’s better because it’s “yours.” Part of what makes a craft brew “yours” is that the options and varieties of flavors are so abundant. From barrel-aged to saison, from basement-breweries to renovated church alters, there’s an element of individuality and exclusivity that comes with drinking a craft beer that can’t be replicated by indulging in a commercialized, mass-produced brew.
And that’s exactly why there are currently 725 breweries in planning in the US compared to 389 a year ago. Unfortunately they won’t all survive the cut, but the ones that do will join the ranks of the existing 1,740+ American craft breweries. So don’t expect this trend to fizzle out in 2012, the pint glass is at least half-full.