Craft beer has taken the world by storm in the last decade, and its popularity is only growing. The movement began in the United States following the end of the national prohibition of alcohol, and the Anchor Steam Beer Company of San Francisco played a vital role in developing the concept of craft beer. Since then, there has been an expanding innovation and an increasing trend in terms of production and sales of beers with differentiated quality.
The demand for craft beer has been growing, and more people prefer it due to different flavors and more options. According to the Brewers Association, craft beer sales volume increased by 7.9% from 2020 to 2021 in the US, while total beer sales volume increased by only 1.0%. And in 2022, overall beer volume sales were down 3% while craft brewer volume sales remained on par with 2021. Moreover, in 2022, small and independent brewers’ share of the U.S. beer market by volume increased to 13.2%.
But what drives the trend towards the craft beer revolution? Craft beer has challenged the dominance of lager beer in the market, with consumers demanding high-flavor and stronger beers. Exclusivity and unique drinking experiences are highly rated by craft beer consumers, who are said to demand goods and services with a connection to the local community.
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Unique drinking experience
Craft beer’s rise can also be attributed to millennials’ preference for small, local companies. A recent study from the University of Texas at Dallas found that the predicted share of craft beer in the US market is set to increase from 22.6% in 2018 to 27.4% in 2030, assuming constant availability. This shift in consumer behavior highlights the desire for unique and personalized experiences. Craft beer provides that, with small breweries offering distinct flavors and styles that larger brands cannot replicate.
Different, innovative flavors
Craft beer is generally made with traditional ingredients like malted barley, but interesting and sometimes non-traditional ingredients are often added for distinctiveness. According to the Brewers Association, the craft beer industry is characterized by its innovation, as craft brewers are able to take historic styles and give them unique twists, while also developing new styles that have never been seen before, making it a truly innovative industry.
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The industry and craft beer trends
The rise of craft beer has led to an abundance of breweries and a wide variety of craft beer brands, including prominent examples of Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, and Samuel Adams. With so many options available, consumers have the ability to explore and discover unique flavors and styles that cater to their individual tastes, from American style India Pale Ale to Hazy India Pale Ale; from German-style Pilsener to German-style Wheat Ale; and more.
As the popularity of craft beer continues to grow, so does its economic impact. In fact, the leading craft beer of 2022 was a Belgian-style wheat ale called Blue Moon, which generated nearly 429 million U.S. dollars in sales. This success highlights the growing demand for craft beer and the potential for small breweries to make a significant impact in the beer industry.
As craft beer continues to rise, experts predict trends like low-ABV beers and day-drinking on the weekends becoming more popular. Grace Skarra, Beverage Manager at Harrah’s Resort SoCal, predicts that low-ABV beers will trend, while Greg Engert, Beverage Director and Partner of Neighborhood Restaurant Group, notes that lower-ABV classic styles are popular for day-drinking while playing games or doing other activities.
The rise of craft beer is not just a trend but a revolution in the beer industry. With its unique flavors, innovative techniques, and connection to the local community, it’s no surprise that its popularity continues to grow. Craft beer offers a unique drinking experience that sets it apart from the traditional lagers, and as the industry evolves, we can expect to see even more exciting and unique offerings.