I have finally returned for the monthly beer blogging funfest that is “The Session.” Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry.
The topic for this month’s host over at Ramblings of a Beer Runner has us taking a look into the future. With almost 2,200 breweries currently operating in America and more coming every day, Derrick Peterman wants to know where is it all going and where will this growth end up in 2017? Well, let’s hop in our DeLorean and find out…
Given the gift of time travel, I’ll let other bloggers take the lead on the math, which has never been my strong suit. Let’s start over at Red, White and Brew, where Brian Yaeger surmises that a very specific 5,001 breweries will exist. He uses all sorts of fancy gimmicks like “math” and “analysis,” so we’ll use that as a starting point, because what I’m truly interested in isn’t necessarily the number of breweries, but the amount of beer we can look forward to (and I don’t have a problem, I swear).
Earlier this week I read a post over at BillyBrew.com where namesake Billy Broas offers a breakdown of the ideal beer lineup – or portfolio – of a brewery. His brewery selections ranged from seven regular, annual brews from Oskar Blues to 22 from New Belgium. Let’s be modest and say that a new brewery might err on the side of caution and stick to the low end of that spectrum and produce seven beers a year. Now we’re talking about roughly 35,000 new beers entering the ̶l̶i̶v̶e̶r̶s̶ stomachs of Americans. Hooray beer, indeed.
But here’s the rub. All of us beer-loving fools should know that no matter how many new breweries open, that doesn’t mean we get good beer. Some will certainly be good, some may be bad. Part of the fun of opening a brewery is certainly the ability to innovate (or make money, but whatever) and innovation leads to hits and misses. But … is this a negative? No matter how you look at it, more beer only increases the chance for us as a beer-loving group to spread the gospel of beer among our mass market, Bud/Miller/Coors sinners.
Which leads me over to another recent blog post by Eric Shepard, who notes that the beer-loving community only has the potential to further increase the size of our community, which is a good thing, if only to rid ourselves of the hedonism of Bud Light. Perhaps looking at the number of breweries or beers created is just the start … Think of how many new craft beer drinkers we’ll have.
Which is good because…
This is all a very roundabout way to not answer Derrick’s question, but it is a roundabout way to get to the point of how exciting it all is. Did you know that craft brewers provide an estimated 103,585 jobs in the U.S., including serving staff in brewpubs? Or that the craft brewing industry grew 13 percent in 2011? Craft beer is on the rise and it’s going to be a pretty damned exciting ride. Better hop on this train before it really leaves the station.