What an ugly diagram. Jeff posted a hypothesis to describe the last ten years in good beer and it caused me to come up with an ugly diagram. A scribbel. See, I don't agree with him but I am not that concerned with agreeability. Not that I am not nice. I am nice as pie. But I just do not think he has it quite right. But that's OK as we are all in this together. My issue is he awards one of those little gold foil stars that I use to see others get given at Sunday school. His conclusion:
In 2006, as I started this blog, craft brewing was just a sleepy little current in the overall beer market--still a "boutique" segment. In the next decade, growth has been so strong that it is now a given that it's the future of beer. Imagine what the next decade will hold.
Why do I disagree? Because I think craft beer might well be dying if it is not already dead. What do I mean by this? Well, we are in the middle of a very rapidly developing transition in which many of the folk who began macros are clocking out. Not as immediately as 1970s rock stars but they are handing in their badges and finding something else to do. Papazian has packed it in. Many breweries have broken their world and cashed in or cashed out. Koch spent 2015 adrift on a yogurty sea as the suits moved in. Sales of big craft are down and we are all awaiting the news of how the BA is going to manufacture an increase in craft beer sales while many of its membership abandons the definition for sunnier days. Cider is suddenly not the future. What is?
Who cares? None of that matters. Because I think the future is upon us now. What people do not seem to appreciate is that beer is easy and cheap to make and the 12,000 brewery universe - or at least western world - is largely populated by little, nimble and local brewers. The millionaire toyboys behind BrewDog have nothing really to do with punk. But the little garage breweries do. Look at this. If you ignore the obviously problematic infatuation with the thesaurus, you see a story of nothing to something over a little more than a year. It's happening in so many local markets that it's common. It's happened in my own town. The story is now too complex to be told.
We have a natural inclination to hang on to the things we are familiar with. The people we looked up to. Their ways of doing things. But over the last year the leaders of big craft movement lost the bench. Yet seeing as they only arose under a decade ago - 25 years into the movement - that is fine. A blip. Craft as they describe it might well be over. It's certainly not rising. The small and confident are. The macro industrial buyers of big craft are. The middle grounds is being abandoned. Soon the pink line will cross the red one. Excellent thing, too. Over the last 35 years, change has been constant. This point is time is not special. It's just another point of reflection that will be forgotten soon as the next thing comes along. Looking forward to it.