Craft beer is clearly a category gaining steam, compared with other, lagging beer categories. Light beer fell from a 47.3% marketshare in 2014 to a 45.5% share in 2015. Projections for Big Beer in 2016 are more of the same: gradual decline. However, the number of breweries opening will slow in the coming years.
The industry doesn’t want to repeat the decline in quality that led to the beer bubble burst in the ’90s. The idea of “quality” is at the heart of the current craft movement. People do not consume craft beer just to drink, but to enjoy the craftsmanship that goes into these tasty products. Breweries know better now than in the ‘90s that quality is the most important aspect of successfully producing beer.
People will drink a beer knowing they’ll never have it again. They only want what’s new to them. Which would suggest that the category has plenty of room for growth in terms of diversity. The consumer palate has never been so willing to explore and experiment. That can support all those microbreweries opening. But the new question becomes: how big in business can those microbreweries grow if consumers are loyal now not to brands, but to their palates?