The Emerging Competition
Anybody noticing the new “craft lite” beers from Miller? AB has for a while been producing “craft like” beers in its Michelob portfolio, but will also soon introduce a Bud Ale. I assume most of you are aware that Blue Moon is a Coors product.
It appears that the growth of true craft beer in the last few years has seriously gotten some attention from the big boys – it will be interesting to see the new developments as they enter the market and do what they do.
The Brewer’s Association (www.beertown.org), the trade association that represents most of America’s smaller brewers, has recently attempted to define what craft beer is, and who makes it, to separate the big boys from the smaller players, and better define the market segment. Their efforts are a work in progress – not perfect but at least a start. However, I believe that much of what has happened to US beer in the last 25 years has more to do with entrepreneurs reacting against the “beer status quo”, as well as a passion for fuller flavor, than it does with technical definitions. There is a spiritual side to craft brewing which is difficult to define but I think you know it when you see it.
The next few years are going to be a challenge for the true craft brewery – however you define it. Rising costs in raw materials, energy and transportation, marketing, etc. will make it ever more difficult for those who choose this career path to continue to grow and prosper. Consumers will need to be willing to pay more for products that are increasingly more costly to produce. Otherwise, the craft revolution may be ultimately eclipsed by a return to the old status quo.
I can’t see that happening – even with the big boys trying to erode hard earned market share from us little guys, I have faith in the American craft consumer. Like I said, I think they know a craft brewer when they see one. And I for one am damn glad to be recognized. So here’s to you, the consumer, and thank you for making this wonderful industry I am part of possible.
Hugh Sisson, Managing Partner for Clipper City Brewing Co, LP
Even with rising prices would you ever go back to drinking AB, Miller or Coors full time?