Craft breweries are growing throughout the United States, while some worry about a craft brew bubble bursting in the near future.
The philosopher Plato, clearly a wise man himself, once said “He was a wise man who invented beer.”
Today, creating beer has become an art form. It has also become a revenue stream for states taxing the creation of beer.
The craft beer industry in the United States grew by 18 percent in 2014 according to the Brewers Association of Boulder, Colo. That takes into account producers who make less than six million barrels annually. The 18 percent accounted for $19.6 billion in sales in 2014.
According to MSN Money, craft breweries have increased their output from 10 million barrels in 2010 to 22 million barrels in 2014.
States with revenue problems (which is virtually all of them) have taken notice. From California to New York, states are promoting craft beer sales and changing beer distribution laws to make it easier for craft breweries to sell directly to consumers through pubs and restaurants.
States have different laws regarding craft breweries, although all 50 states allow tasting samples. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 35 states allow breweries and brewpubs sell to beer to customers directly without using a distributor.
Distributors, meanwhile, want their piece of the pie, and are winning the battle in the Southern states. According to MSN Money, Alabama does not allow craft breweries to sell beer that can be carried out, although there have been repeated efforts to change the legislation. In Georgia, brewers can only provide a beer “souvenir’’ after charging for a tour.
Asheville, N.C. has been declared the Craft Beer Capital of the U.S. thanks to its plentiful and clean water supply and the new state laws which raised the cap on alcohol content for beer form 6 percent to 15 percent. While the new state laws also allow craft brewers to pour on site, they cannot self-distribute if they produce more than 25,000 barrels a year.
Craft breweries are opening stores in airports now, allowing travelers to take samples home with them. Denver International Airport just joined brewing hotspots like Portland, Ore., and Boise and even Anchorage in offering to-go bottles for tourists.
The industry has grown to the point that Fortune Magazine recently asked the question “Is craft beer in a bubble?” The answer, apparently, is yes.
“I think we are nearing a crisis point,’’ said Shelburne, Vt.’s Fiddlehead Brewing owner and brewmaster Matt Cohen to Fortune. “I think there are a lot of people getting into (the industry) that either don’t have experience and have never worked in a brewery or just see it as a way to make money. You can be successful at it, but it’s a very difficult way to make money.”
“I think there is going to be a bubble, and it is going to bust, and we’ll lose some, but the established ones will do fine,’’ said brewmaster Peter Zien of San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing :Co.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.