According to mid-year metrics released by the non-profit Brewers Association on Wednesday, production volume for craft brewers increased five percent. The press release also showed that as of June 30 there were 6,655 active breweries, up from 5,562 during a comparable timeframe last year. An estimated 2,500 to 3,000 breweries are in planning, based on active Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) licenses.
“While more mature, the market continues to show demand for small and independent craft brewers,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “There are certainly industry headwinds, but this stabilized growth rate is reflective of the market realities that exist for brewers today.”
“The data demonstrate that 2018 is on pace to have the highest number of brewery openings and closings to date. However, even as breweries close, openings continue to far outpace the number that shutter,” added Watson. “New players looking to enter the space should be aware of the constructs of the current landscape, work to differentiate themselves and will need to make quality beer to succeed.”
San Diego Brewers Guild board member Matthew Zirpolo, co-owner and president of Burgeon Beer Company, commented at length on the press release:
“With more than 130 independent craft brewing locations in San Diego, our local community is experiencing firsthand that it takes a lot to run a successful brewery. The increased competition does present challenges, which are also coupled with rewards. In San Diego, we are lucky to have a cohesive tight-knit community. This provides local breweries with an array of resources (ingredients, knowledge, access to information, collaborations, etc.) that allow us to make ‘top-notch’ beer in San Diego at an exponential rate.
“We are seeing some complications and losses as a result of the competition and current industry stabilization that’s taking place. In the last month, we saw Intergalactic and ChuckAlek announce closures. It is devastating to see this happen to our brewery members, which is an unfortunate result of industry stabilization.
“Breweries are finding creative ways to standout, choosing to focus their efforts and time on marketing, and ultimately doing more than just brewing great beer. It’s also important for everyone to innovate and brew new styles, which will help keep the customer engaged and intrigued. The quality of beer has always been a necessity, but with so many options now available to consumers, the first overall impression of a brand is crucial.
“From my personal experience with Burgeon Beer Company, I feel that new breweries opening now need to have three things executed well. The brewery needs to have a knowledgeable and experienced brewer who can produce high-quality beer immediately. They need a system in place for selling the beer and effectively marketing the brand. Lastly, a brewery needs someone who knows ‘the numbers’ and can efficiently run the company’s operations.
“There used be room for ‘more beer’ in San Diego, and the marketplace has changed to only allow space for “exceptional beer.” As a result of these changes, I truly believe it’s a great time to be a craft beer consumer in San Diego. The quality of beer that is being produced here in America’s Finest City is second to none. It’s why we’ve earned the name ‘Capital of Craft.’”