Tweet Could you please stop associating "craft beer" with "revolution"?
Let's forget for a second that I believe "craft" doesn't mean a lot more than "premium". Whether I like it or not, the truth is that there are many people for whom "craft beer" is something more or less concrete, but whatever that is, is not a "revolution".
A revolution is something that results in a radical change to the status quo, even when a revolution fails, things are never the same.
The last phenomenon in the brewing industry that I believe could be called a revolution took place in the last decades of the 19th century with the development of efficient systems of artificial refrigeration, which resulted in lagers taking over the world. The change was relatively quick and, in some places, brutal, it basically wiped out styles with a lot of history and tradition behind them.
Craft beer hasn't done anything like this, anywhere. Not even in the US, where not few "craft breweries" are already into their third or fourth decade. Today, the 1800 or more Craft breweries in that country have around 5% market share (and this includes that millions of hl that Sam Adams produces every year). In some regions, like the Northwest, the figure is higher, but it's still a small piece of the pie. The fact is that the best selling beers of today are more or less the same as those 20 or 30 years ago, something that you can see in every country in the world.
Some will wield the industry figures of the last few years as an argument for the revolution. It's clear, sales and production volumes of the major industrial brewers are going down (or at best stagnated), while those of small, independent producers are growing significantly, sometimes in two percentage figures. And?
These two things aren't as correlated as many seem to believe. People aren't drinking less but better, they are simply drinking less. The reasons for that have already been disucssed, and they are very much besides the point. The growth of craft beers is due to different factors, they've become more widely available, they've been getting more and more attention from the media and, to a lesser extent, but still quite important, they have made important inroads in places where beer was always, at best, a second class product. If they are taking market share away from someone, it's from wine.
Others will point at the products some macros have launched in recent years (those which some moron has dubbed "faux craft") as proof of a revolution (or even worse, as proof that the macros "are afraid"). You can call the macros a number of things, but stupid is not one of them. They have people working for them whose job is to follow the market, and they have realised that there is a growing demand for beers that move away from the usual lines. Therefore, these products are nothing but a response to this trend, and actually, I think they respond more to macro-brewed imported beers than to craft brews, that's why Fénix, for example, is a wheat beer and not an IPA. In other words, what SAB-Miller, AB-InBev or Heineken are doing is not too different to what most craft breweries always do, to follow the steps and copy someone who's been successful in a given segment.
The acquisition of breweries like Goose Island or Kunstmann by giants like AB-InBev or CCU isn't proof of a revolution, either. It's basically the same as what I say above, only that these companies have decided that it'd be better to take over a well established brand than to build a new one from scratch.
It's not my intention to underrate the success small and independent breweries are having in many countries. It's something remarkable and more than welcome, but it's not a revolution. It's actually part of something deeper that is happening in our societies and, just like it has done throughout the ages, beer is mirroring it.
There are more and more people who want an alternative to globalised uniformity, rediscovering the "traditional", "local", "regional", "authentic", etc and are looking for products with which they can identify and have a more personal relationship. This doesn't necessarily mean that they will forget about Big Mac or Heineken, but they will now complement them with free-range chicken and a bottle of craft beer.
Of course, if believing you are part of a revolution makes you feel better with yourself, it's your thing and I have nothing against it, I just wanted to say you are wrong.
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