Musing the future of craft beer – Trees growing into heaven

Interesting times these are, for sure. Great beers are available in abundance, and more to come. Beer aficionados must feel as if they’re in Walhalla and should be happy. Or should they worry? I don’t know for sure. Interesting times, and sometimes we get interesting news. Read the below and make up your own mind on how to look at the future of craft beer.

Trees growing into heaven
The past years it seemed they only is up in the wonderful world of beer. Even today, breweries open up every day – in the United States at a rate of two per day, in The Netherlands at around seven per month in 2017. Can all of these new breweries survive, will they find enough thirsty beer drinkers to buy their beer? I don’t know.

For some in The States, they played and lost. Highly regarded brewery Smuttynose is up for sale via public auction because “the company’s financial models were based on 20 years of consistent growth but the brewery recently lost sales due to increased competition of new openings of craft beer breweries in the area and all over the US.” Wow. Twenty years of consistent growth – what were they thinking? I don’t know.

What I do know is that the craft beer community was shocked late 2016 by the news Stone Brewing laid off 5% of its staff whilst it had just opened breweries in Berlin and Richmond, Virginia. Being the ninth-largest craft brewery in the U.S. and set for growth, that was a totally unexpected thing to happen.

And now Green Flash, like Stone from southern California, announced it is withdrawing distribution from 32 (!) states, focusing on just 18. It will cut its workforce by 15%. That sounds tough altogether but makes perfect sense when considering the states Green Flash is pulling out of represented only about 17% of its business. It proves two things: a company should first, and foremost, focus on its home turf and maintain local relevance. It also proves the trees do no longer grown into heaven for beer.

The Dutch landscape
In January three new breweries opened up in The Netherlands, bringing the total to 555 breweries. That’s one brewery per 31,500 Cloggies, while the USA – with roughly 6,100 breweries and a population of 326 million – has around one per 55,000 Americans. Sure, the landscape is different altogether, but it seems the Dutch have breweries a plenty. It’ll be interesting to see what the number is per end of this year.

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