The Future of Craft Beer
The craft beer industry has seemingly exploded in the past few years, but it also looks like it’s going to be more than just a passing fad. Why? Because there’s still a demand for even more craft beers than are already available.
According to research compiled by Kendall College’s School of Hospitality, more than one third of consumers (36%) already drink craft beer. When you look at Millenials alone, that number goes up to 43%. And 45% of consumers say that they would try more craft beers if they knew more about them. As craft beers continue to become more and more prominent at local festivals, grocery stores, and bars, those consumers will have plenty of opportunities to learn more.
Why Craft Beer is Here to Stay
Craft beer—defined as beer produced by small, independent breweries—has been around for years (the do-it-yourself, underground breweries of the Prohibition era count!), but it’s only been in the past five or so years that the industry has really started hitting its stride. The production of craft beer increased by an astounding 71% between 2006 and 2012—and consumers are still clamoring for the full-flavored product. In 2012, sales of craft beer totaled 12 million dollars, and that number is expected to triple by 2017.
For many modern consumers, the variety and rich flavors of craft beer are a welcome change from major beer brands like Budweiser and Coors Light. Craft beer is higher in alcohol content, is locally produced, and gives beer lovers plenty of opportunities to try different products. Small breweries often make several different types of craft beer, such as an IPA, stout, wheat beer, and brown ale, so that consumers can sample different varieties to find the one that they like best—or the one that will pair best with their meal.
While some news sources like Business Insider have speculated that the craft beer industry is in a bubble that will soon pop, industry insiders are more optimistic. Bart Watson, an economist with the Brewers Association, pointed out to CNBC that the supply of craft beer still isn’t meeting public demand. He believes that rather than crashing, the craft beer industry will someday look more like the restaurant industry—a lot of small local breweries will open, and the ones that manage to make a lasting impression will stick around while other smaller players will keep entering and exiting.
For now, the craft beer industry is looking like a pretty welcoming place for anyone interested in working in the food and beverage world. According to Kendall College, there are roughly 2,403 breweries in the US (the most since the 1880s) and over 103,585 industry jobs (including servers at brew pubs). Job growth in the food and beverage industry has been 25% in the last 13 years as compared to a 4% rise for total employment in the US—and a lot of that job growth can be attributed to craft beer.
In response to this booming industry, many colleges are now offering concentrations within their Hospitality or Business major to allow students to focus on Beverage Management. Whether or not you’re a current student, however, now is a great time to break into the world of craft beer.