I have been reading the transcripts from a recent speech, made by Jim Koch. In the speech he touches on the state of the US craft brewing scene as well as a bit about the state of Sam Adams. Through the mass of numbers and differing stats there were a few items that stood out to me.
The first was a bit about AB Inbev. In the grand scheme of things, it really wasn’t that long ago that Anheiser Busch was bought out by Inbev. When you look at the downward trend of AB over the last 25 years, that means that they were bought out during a longer spiral, and now are still losing ground. It becomes a series of crises management in order to save what they can. Of course, even with this downward spiral they are still the biggest fish in the pond.
This makes me wonder how much longer they will remain with the lead they have. The speech reminded me of a recent release detailing the amount of breweries currently in the US and the breweries in planning for the next year or so. Granted we were just talking about this during the recent Session. Imagine, 1300 breweries in the works currently. That is roughly the number of breweries in all of Germany. More so, I recently ran across an article stating that England is approaching 1000 breweries. When you consider that in the US there are currently over 2000, that just gets insane.
As Mr. Koch suggests, in the US we have a beer culture unlike any where else in the world. Although there are some who would only see two lines, I prefer to see three seperate cultures. It may be that the third culture has only recently started to manifest so that may be slanted against it. So first we look at the two that have existed for ages. The first portion is the group for alcohol (usually falling into the group that gives imbibers a bad name) the partiers. The second portion is the neo prohibitionists. Just as with food, if you can enjoy it it must be bad for you. Lastly, we have a segment of the culture emerging that seems to baffle those from the other two segments. The group that drinks beer for the enjoyment of the varied flavors and nuances.
It would seem that we have come back to full circle. Back before prohibition when we had a similar number of breweries to where we are now, beer was integral to our quality of life. Back then the temperance movement did not include beer, wine, or cider. These were staples that we could not live without. Of course now the love hate relationship with alcohol puts so many stigmata onto how we partake that it becomes ever harder to enjoy without building feelings of guilt. Kinda makes you wonder how we could build a beer culture to begin with huh?
Imagine that back then along with a large number of breweries (the same number as now but with a smaller population) it was also quite common for people to home brew. Beer was more than just culture, beer was life. If you talk like that now, they brand you an alcoholic and shun you (be warned).
And now my mind is wandering away from my original thoughts, so I will leave you hear…
Time for a pint…