The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

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The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by tuttle » Fri May 10, 2019 11:08 am

The craft beer 'industry' isn't so tiny anymore. Actually it hasn't been 'tiny' in a while. Of course compared to the sea-creatures like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors they're just big fish in a little pond. But over the past few years some of those fish are starting to get pretty big.

Boulevard Brewery, in my neck o' the woods, was sold to Belgian company Duvel Moortgat some five years ago. Other craft breweries have been bought by big dogs or have merged

And in some interesting news yesterday the biggest craft brewery in America got bigger: The brewers of Sam Adams and Dogfish Head merge in $300 million deal

It was already becoming debatable if Sam Adams should be considered a craft beer brewery anymore and this merger seems to tip the scales away from that label even further.

And this trend seems only to be on the rise. Dave Burwick, the CEO of Boston Beer Company, will lead the merged company, said "We expect that we'll see more consolidation in the craft industry over time, and we'll be in the best position to take advantage of those changes."

Here are a couple of interesting articles examining the merger. Some see it as doom and gloom, other see it as a good thing. I'm not quite sure what to think about it yet.

RIP Craft Beer: Sam Adams’ Company Buys Dogfish Head Brewery

What the Boston Beer-Dogfish Head Merger Means for the Future of Craft Beer

Why the Sam Adams–Dogfish Deal Will Be a Win for Beer Lovers
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by hugodrax » Fri May 10, 2019 1:10 pm

Craft beer is boosh-it, if you ask me.Real beer was produced for years upon years in this country by tons of local brewers. Stouts, Ales, Pils, Lagers, Bocks...you name it. They got put out of business by rice beers and marketing campaigns.

Now it's all IPA's and blueberry bocks put out by guys that look and dress like you, Tuttle, but have MBA's and family money backing them. They screw around and add a ton of sugar to their beer, often more than is contained in the equivalent amount of carbonated soda. And we buy it because of marketing, but for fifty bucks a case rather than 15.

Get you an old-fashioned beer-flavored beer and enjoy the company you're in. Harrumph.
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by FredS » Fri May 10, 2019 1:34 pm

I used to be tangentially involved in the beverage industry (I sold bottle molds). Anheuser-Busch was bought by InBev a few years ago in a huge market shake up. The profits from your red white and blue Bud go to the krauts.

We're seeing consolidation in the craft distilling business too. I did a big project for Angels Envy distilling and Bacardi bought them half way through the new distillery construction.

I guess it doesn't matter if your Ben and Jerry making ice cream in a shack of or the tuttle bros brewing beer in the basement - if your product is among the best in the market someone will eventually come along with an offer you can't refuse. It's the 'Merican way, and it's not necessarily a bad thing. There's always room for the little guy if he crafts something new and worthwhile.
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by tuttle » Fri May 10, 2019 1:39 pm

I don't think Sam Adams buying Dogfish is necessarily a bad thing, but it is a different thing. In some ways it sort of hits a reset button for the little guys again, and that's not always a bad thing.
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by FredS » Fri May 10, 2019 3:14 pm

In other news, I'm in LS today and we went to Jacks Stack for lunch (the boss paid). It was nice to have a wide selection of Boulevard beers on tap. All I can buy in CO is their wheat beer (my fav) and Tank 7, which is - as typical with a lot of 'craft' beers - way over hopped for my taste. There's a small brewery near my house named Funkwerks that specializes in sour beers. Sour beer on purpose? Yuk.
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by DepartedLight » Fri May 10, 2019 6:40 pm

So the awesome craft beer market is being eaten up as a valid business proposition and will be just like Walmart in 2 years or less?

Well. I DO feel better now.
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by Stanley76 » Sat May 11, 2019 6:41 am

The hands down best beer I have ever tasted was home made, or I guess home brewed by my cousin. He's a veterinarian and lived on a small farm with his wife and three boys (all grown up now). They grew food in a garden, raised alpacas and hunted deer and small game. They even home schooled their boys. Discovery should have made one of those fake "reality" shows about them.

Anyway, he got into making beer. Since his is smart enough to be a veterinarian, he made really really good beer. He used to give me some every once in a while. It was in quart sized, bail top bottles (which I had to give back to him when I was done) and it was cloudy and had bits of stuff floating in the bottom of the bottle. He told me you weren't supposed to drink the last bit that had the stuff floating in it but I did anyway and it was the best part. Little pieces of grain I guess.

I have no idea what the alcohol level was but one bottle would give you a great buzz and two would probably put me (and I'm a giant) close to the legal limit for a DWI, so I only drank it every once in a while and usually only one bottle.

Like I said it was delicious beer. It was a tan cloudy color and almost thick, not much carbonation really and had a malty bready taste to it that I loved. The problem was that he also loved it. He loved it so much that he started drinking it every night and probably more than one or two bottles. Eventually his wife made him quit making it. I miss that beer and mourn the loss. Since I am not smart and not crafty, I have never tried to make my own. Probably that is a good thing, but I still miss that delicious beer. I would drink it even if had no alcohol in it.
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by tuttle » Mon May 13, 2019 9:15 am

Here's an interview with the founders about the merger: https://www.thrillist.com/drink/nation/ ... -interview
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by Jester » Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:45 am

These Are the Best Beers & Breweries in the US, According to Drinkers
Top-Ranked Beer
T24. Russian River Blind Pig IPA
T24. Odell IPA
23. North Coast Old Rasputin
T21. The Alchemist Focal Banger
T21. Allagash White
20. Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout
T18. Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
T18. Lawson's Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine
T16. New Holland Dragon's Milk
T16. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
15. Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA
14. Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro
T12. Three Floyds Zombie Dust
T12. Tree House Julius
11. Cigar City Jai Alai IPA
T9. WeldWerks Juicy Bits
T9. Founders Breakfast Stout
T7. Bell's Hopslam
T7. Founders All Day IPA
6. Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout
5. The Alchemist Heady Topper
4. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
3. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
2. Russian River Pliny the Elder
1. Bell's Two Hearted Ale
Tuttle and I are currently in the process of home-brewing a 5 gallon clone of #1
Top Breweries
T24. Surly Brewing Company (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
T24. Goose Island Beer (Chicago, Illinois)
23. Left Hand Brewing Company (Longmont, Colorado)
22. Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, Maine)
21. Avery Brewing Company (Boulder, Colorado)
20. Tröegs Independent Brewing (Hershey, Pennsylvania)
T18. Oskar Blues Brewery (Longmont, Colorado; Brevard, North Carolina; Austin, Texas)
T18. Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California; Chicago, Illinois)
17. Three Floyds Brewing Company (Munster, Indiana)
16. New Belgium Brewing (Fort Collins, Colorado; Asheville, North Carolina)
15. New Glarus Brewing Company (New Glarus, Wisconsin)
T12. WeldWerks Brewing CO. (Greeley, Colorado)
T12. Cigar City Brewing (Tampa Bay, Florida)
T12. Boulevard Brewing Company (Kansas City, Missouri)
T10. Stone Brewing (Escondido, California)
T10. Firestone Walker Brewing Company (Paso Robles, California)
T8. Odell Brewing Company (Fort Collins, Colorado)
T8. Deschutes Brewery (Bend, Oregon)
7. The Alchemist (Stowe, Vermont)
6. Tree House Brewing Company (Charlton, Massachusetts)
5. Dogfish Head Craft (Milton, Delaware)
4. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (Chico, California; Mills River, North Carolina)
3. Russian River Brewing Company (Santa Rosa and Windsor, California)
2. Founders Brewing Company (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
1. Bell's Brewery (Comstock, Michigan)
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by JudgeRusty » Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:05 am

Jester wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:45 am
These Are the Best Beers & Breweries in the US, According to Drinkers
Top-Ranked Beer
T24. Russian River Blind Pig IPA
T24. Odell IPA
23. North Coast Old Rasputin
T21. The Alchemist Focal Banger
T21. Allagash White
20. Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout
T18. Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
T18. Lawson's Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine
T16. New Holland Dragon's Milk
T16. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
15. Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA
14. Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro
T12. Three Floyds Zombie Dust
T12. Tree House Julius
11. Cigar City Jai Alai IPA
T9. WeldWerks Juicy Bits
T9. Founders Breakfast Stout
T7. Bell's Hopslam
T7. Founders All Day IPA
6. Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout
5. The Alchemist Heady Topper
4. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
3. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
2. Russian River Pliny the Elder
1. Bell's Two Hearted Ale
Tuttle and I are currently in the process of home-brewing a 5 gallon clone of #1
Top Breweries
T24. Surly Brewing Company (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
T24. Goose Island Beer (Chicago, Illinois)
23. Left Hand Brewing Company (Longmont, Colorado)
22. Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, Maine)
21. Avery Brewing Company (Boulder, Colorado)
20. Tröegs Independent Brewing (Hershey, Pennsylvania)
T18. Oskar Blues Brewery (Longmont, Colorado; Brevard, North Carolina; Austin, Texas)
T18. Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California; Chicago, Illinois)
17. Three Floyds Brewing Company (Munster, Indiana)
16. New Belgium Brewing (Fort Collins, Colorado; Asheville, North Carolina)
15. New Glarus Brewing Company (New Glarus, Wisconsin)
T12. WeldWerks Brewing CO. (Greeley, Colorado)
T12. Cigar City Brewing (Tampa Bay, Florida)
T12. Boulevard Brewing Company (Kansas City, Missouri)
T10. Stone Brewing (Escondido, California)
T10. Firestone Walker Brewing Company (Paso Robles, California)
T8. Odell Brewing Company (Fort Collins, Colorado)
T8. Deschutes Brewery (Bend, Oregon)
7. The Alchemist (Stowe, Vermont)
6. Tree House Brewing Company (Charlton, Massachusetts)
5. Dogfish Head Craft (Milton, Delaware)
4. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (Chico, California; Mills River, North Carolina)
3. Russian River Brewing Company (Santa Rosa and Windsor, California)
2. Founders Brewing Company (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
1. Bell's Brewery (Comstock, Michigan)
So no good porters available?
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by Stanley76 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:21 am

Thanks Jester for bumping this thread. It gives me a chance to vent on how expensive some beers are now days. A local restaurant charges 4.00 for cans of beer and up to 8.00 for some of the draft high octane craft beers.

I guess that I qualify for codger status since I am over sixty now but I have a hard time with paying 8.00 for a single beer when I can remember paying 4.00 for a WHOLE CASE of Red, White and Blue at the Piggly Wiggly in 1977. Yes it was awful but it was only .99 a six pack, end of the month right before payday beer. The good stuff was Bud and Pabst was sneered at and not a fad beer like it is today. I lived in a college town and the local bars had nickel and sometimes penny draft Happy Hours at 5:00. M.A.D. D. ended all that in the eighties.

Alcohol content in NC back then was 3.2 percent and in Virginia you could buy 3.2 percent (green stamp on the bottom of the can) if you were 18 or the good stuff which was 6.4 percent (yellow stamp) if you were 21. Nobody checked ID's back then anyway and I went in a bar when I was 14 and ordered a beer. Got it too no questions asked and it tasted horrible but I drank it anyway. Now days I usually just buy cheap beer at the Food Lion which is 8.00 a 12 pack and call it a day. I like plain old Miller High Life best with a bowl of super strong Old Dark Fired or Old Joe Krantz. End of rant.
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by tuttle » Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:55 am

Stanley76 wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:21 am
Thanks Jester for bumping this thread. It gives me a chance to vent on how expensive some beers are now days. A local restaurant charges 4.00 for cans of beer and up to 8.00 for some of the draft high octane craft beers.

I guess that I qualify for codger status since I am over sixty now but I have a hard time with paying 8.00 for a single beer when I can remember paying 4.00 for a WHOLE CASE of Red, White and Blue at the Piggly Wiggly in 1977. Yes it was awful but it was only .99 a six pack, end of the month right before payday beer. The good stuff was Bud and Pabst was sneered at and not a fad beer like it is today. I lived in a college town and the local bars had nickel and sometimes penny draft Happy Hours at 5:00. M.A.D. D. ended all that in the eighties.

Alcohol content in NC back then was 3.2 percent and in Virginia you could buy 3.2 percent (green stamp on the bottom of the can) if you were 18 or the good stuff which was 6.4 percent (yellow stamp) if you were 21. Nobody checked ID's back then anyway and I went in a bar when I was 14 and ordered a beer. Got it too no questions asked and it tasted horrible but I drank it anyway. Now days I usually just buy cheap beer at the Food Lion which is 8.00 a 12 pack and call it a day. I like plain old Miller High Life best with a bowl of super strong Old Dark Fired or Old Joe Krantz. End of rant.
:lol:

I will occasionally buy a beer when out to eat, (and certainly will when out to drink :wink: ) but I too can hardly stomach paying $5 a beer for what I can get at the store (a six pack!) for $8. Baseball games? Forget about it.
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by Jester » Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:20 am

tuttle wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:55 am
Stanley76 wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:21 am
Thanks Jester for bumping this thread. It gives me a chance to vent on how expensive some beers are now days. A local restaurant charges 4.00 for cans of beer and up to 8.00 for some of the draft high octane craft beers.

I guess that I qualify for codger status since I am over sixty now but I have a hard time with paying 8.00 for a single beer when I can remember paying 4.00 for a WHOLE CASE of Red, White and Blue at the Piggly Wiggly in 1977. Yes it was awful but it was only .99 a six pack, end of the month right before payday beer. The good stuff was Bud and Pabst was sneered at and not a fad beer like it is today. I lived in a college town and the local bars had nickel and sometimes penny draft Happy Hours at 5:00. M.A.D. D. ended all that in the eighties.

Alcohol content in NC back then was 3.2 percent and in Virginia you could buy 3.2 percent (green stamp on the bottom of the can) if you were 18 or the good stuff which was 6.4 percent (yellow stamp) if you were 21. Nobody checked ID's back then anyway and I went in a bar when I was 14 and ordered a beer. Got it too no questions asked and it tasted horrible but I drank it anyway. Now days I usually just buy cheap beer at the Food Lion which is 8.00 a 12 pack and call it a day. I like plain old Miller High Life best with a bowl of super strong Old Dark Fired or Old Joe Krantz. End of rant.
:lol:

I will occasionally buy a beer when out to eat, (and certainly will when out to drink :wink: ) but I too can hardly stomach paying $5 a beer for what I can get at the store (a six pack!) for $8. Baseball games? Forget about it.
It is tragic but I also think it is a major factor in home brew. I can buy a canned lager that never fills me up and never lets me down for $.50 a can at the store or $10 bucks at the ballpark. I could buy a micro brewed beer for $2-$10ea from a store or I can make 5 gallons of the good stuff for $25-50 depending on the beer. I just saved myself anywhere from $50-$200.
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by tuttle » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:18 am

"The Evangelium has not abrogated legends; it has hallowed them" -JRR Tolkien

"Better to die cheerfully with the aid of a little tobacco, than to live disagreeably and remorseful without." -CS Lewis

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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by arank87 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:08 pm

In the not so distant past I worked for two craft breweries based in MN. The first one was very small brewery based in rural Southwest MN, and the second was the second largest producer in the state and also the 2nd oldest independent brewery in the country. I have a lot of very strong opinions on the entire craft beer industry. After almost a decade of very, very obsessive participation in all things craft beer I now only rarely drink it at all. I say more power to people who drink craft beer and to those who make it but I grew very tired of all of it, including the consumption of it.

I think the IPA dominated landscape is a response to the "bland" domestic lagers that dominated the marketplace for years. Americans love big, loud, bold things like the Dallas Cowboys, MMA, and politics. There are some very good breweries producing subtle beers but subtlety is not a virtue in America. I think this is related to the ever growing popularity of so called lat-bomb tobaccos. Big, bold, in your face flavors attract those people who seek to be different. This isn't to say there aren't a lot of people who really do enjoy these flavors. I love latakia and IPAs! I do think there are a lot of people who really enjoy being the polar opposite of what they call "conventional" or mainstream.

As more and more craft breweries pop-up the quality of the new breweries continues to decline. I am often asked, 'Have you tried New Brewery x?' to which I invariably respond, 'No because it is bad.' Do good new breweries open up? Yes! Will I risk my money trying them? No! There are 13 breweries or tap rooms on the North shore of Lake Superior as of today. I think there are only 14 people who live up there so I'm not sure how they keep them all staffed. So now we are faced with a very crowded marketplace with fewer and fewer good offerings but with increasing prices. I'm not sure what the end game of all of this is.

This is a very rambling post and I sincerely do not mean to be offensive to anyone. I am extremely jaded about craft beer but I really do feel glad that so many people find so much enjoyment in it, as long as they aren't over imbibing. I'm glad to be more focused on this hobby which has so much less heavy metal/satanic imagery and a little less urban, elitist, pretense. I hope. :signofcross:
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by arank87 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:34 pm

My last post was way off topic, too long, and generally not in the tone I mean to share on this forum. You can’t delete posts apparently or I would.
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by tuttle » Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:22 pm

arank87 wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:34 pm
My last post was way off topic, too long, and generally not in the tone I mean to share on this forum. You can’t delete posts apparently or I would.
Don't be silly.
arank87 wrote:As more and more craft breweries pop-up the quality of the new breweries continues to decline. I am often asked, 'Have you tried New Brewery x?' to which I invariably respond, 'No because it is bad.' Do good new breweries open up? Yes! Will I risk my money trying them? No! There are 13 breweries or tap rooms on the North shore of Lake Superior as of today. I think there are only 14 people who live up there so I'm not sure how they keep them all staffed. So now we are faced with a very crowded marketplace with fewer and fewer good offerings but with increasing prices. I'm not sure what the end game of all of this is.
You bring up an interesting point about what the end game is with the proliferation of craft brews/breweries. The article I linked to said this:
American tastes have turned against Big Beer, and today’s giants would also likely go the way of Schlitz, as most Americans prefer craft brews. Yet the beer duopoly postpones the day of reckoning. At first we might think all is well because there are more breweries. But then we ask: what would happen without the duopoly? While sales of Big Beer are falling, the big two still control distribution and retail and can prevent the magic of competition.
I'm not quite as sure as he is that American tastes have turned against Big Beer, but there is certainly a reaction against Big Beer, and as he points out, is it enough to topple the Big Two? I have my doubts. Part of the reason is that they've already gobbled up major 'craft beer' breweries. Bud Light can crumble but that's just one of like 240 some brands they own.

If the OP gives us any indication, my guess is that, while it'll be easier than ever before to open a new brewery, it'll be that much more difficult to remain open or sustain success. I feel like we're going to see a certain tier level (that is already developing).

Tier 1: You have your Big Two monsters AB InBev and Molson Coors.

Tier 2: Let's give it the title Non-Independent Craft Breweries. And I think this might be some sort of split between craft breweries that wind up selling to other Beer companies who are not the Big Two (like how Duvel owns Ommegang and Boulevard), we'll call this Acquired Craft Breweries. Then you'll have your Craft Brew Collaborations like the Sam Adams and Dogfish merger, where previously independent craft breweries join forces. My guess is that as craft breweries become more successful the ability to remain independent will be difficult.

Tier 3: This is your typical Independent Craft Breweries.

Anything below this level is just a sublevel of Tier 3. Your startups, brewpubs, nano/micro-breweries, etc.

The two biggest hurdles I see for Craft Breweries are the initial startup and then selling beyond your local market. The glut and shakeups (if any) will happen in the first two tiers. I think the more Tier 3's we have the better.
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by arank87 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:37 pm

In my experience the number one challenger for startup breweries is talent. People underestimate just how terribly hard it is to make good beer consistently. This is the miracle of Miller Coors et al. They make “perfect” beer every single time. A small brewery may be good one week and atrocious the next. Consumers are very much a fool me once crowd.
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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by Thunktank » Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:33 pm

I really truly don’t care. Big brewery, small brewery, craft brewery, macro brewery. . .

I drink all kinds of beer, but I still drink more of this than anything.

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Re: The Changing Landscape of Craft Beer

Post by Thunktank » Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:42 pm

In fact, I just took the running boards of the truck and changed the fuel filter. Time for a cold one. Anyone who wants to come over and join me is welcome!

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“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” -Yoda

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