When you get together with friends and family on a Friday night to kick back with a glass of your favorite beer, do you find yourself frequenting a microbrewery? For those who aren’t familiar with the term, a microbrewery is a small, independently-owned brewery that produces quality beer with an emphasis on technique and flavor. Rather than purchase any generic, mass-produced beer from the store, more consumers are choosing to get their buzz at their local microbreweries. There are over 8,400 microbreweries in the United States (Breweries – Brewers Association) and each one sells locally by either distributing their microbrews to local vendors, or by selling directly to the consumers themselves.
Microbrews are specially crafted for a specific taste, and some tastes are regionally specific. As Business Insider writer Megan Durisin aptly stated, “Beer drinkers are experimenting. A Bud Light isn’t cutting it for many people anymore” (Durisin, Megan). Microbrews are getting bolder, more flavorful, and more unique. As Durisin continues, “More and more beer lovers are turning toward full-flavored beers, especially India Pale Ales [IPAs], seasonal beers, and Belgians”. IPAs in particular, with their strong taste, are starting to gain traction among beer drinkers and have seen an increase in their favorability.
Some consumers are even turning to gadgets that allow them to brew their favorite beer right in their own home – with some assembly required. As Andrew Gebhart notes in his Beer Bot Chronicles on Cnet, “[with the PicoBrew,] you insert prepackaged … “PicoPaks” … then you hit a button and Pico does the cooking for you to turn those ingredients into beer” (Gebhart, Andrew). To his dismay, Gebhart isn’t totally satisfied with the taste or product’s process of the craft he created, but is optimistic that the self-brewing process – and taste – will only improve over time.
Numerous small, local microbreweries have been cooking up trouble in the last five years for established brands like Budweiser and Miller. Even though microbreweries, with an emphasis on micro, make up less than 10% of the nation’s total beer sales, industry leaders at the other end of the spectrum are feeling it where it hurts – their bottom line. Microbreweries are significantly impacting regional retail markets, as shown by the chart below (National Beer Sales & Production Data – Brewers Association). Industry leaders are “suffering a ‘slow, watery death’ … [as] independent breweries … are undergoing an accelerating renaissance” Tom Philpott writes in Mother Jones (Philpott, Tom). Philpott also mentions how companies pass off illegitimate craft beers by buying out craft brewers, but their newfound customers aren’t running to the company’s new craft beers because they’re crafts; they’re running from the company’s own signature beers.
“Breweries – Brewers Association.” Brewers Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.
Durisin, Megan. “Why Everyone Is Going Crazy For Craft Beer.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 23 Apr. 2013. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.
Gebhart, Andrew. “Brewing with Pico: The Final Batch.” CNET. N.p., Oct.-Nov. 2016. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.
“National Beer Sales & Production Data – Brewers Association.” Brewers Association. N.p., 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.