Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Craft Beer Community: "99% Asshole Free"

Okay 1%, you know who you are. Time to cut that bullshit out! Sam Calagione, the ever-present founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery made that 99% statement a few years back and for the most part it still holds true today. The craft beer community (other than a few trademark infringement tiffs here and there) tends to genuinely root for their brethren and live with a "there's plenty enough to go around" attitude that has led to ginormous growth, spurred innovation and lead to some excellent collaborations.

It is not just the industry that's asshole is the patrons and supporters of craft brews as well. The fans! The Imbibers. Get two craft beer believers together and they will surely have plenty of notes to compare and one-upping "one time I got my hands on a..." stories to last all night. Even with beer festivals popping up like daisies, you rarely hear or see any skirmishes at these events where, well, there is a lot of drinking going on. The people who brew, sell, market and enjoy craft beer have created a wonderful "open to all" community in the true sense of the word. The question that remains to be seen is 'does the bloom come off the rose?"

 According to Ian Mount's NYT article "Craft Beer Is Booming, But Brewers See Crossroads" By any measurement, craft beer has been on a great run since it took off in the mid-1980s. The number of brew pubs and regional and microbreweries jumped from 1,521 in 2008 to over 3,200 in 2014, according to the Brewers Association, a trade group that defines craft brewers as those that produce fewer than six million barrels a year and are less than 25 percent owned by a large beverage maker.

The rumblings of AB's takeover of Goose Island is a distant 5 years ago now and by most accounts it has been successful for both business and imbibers. Distribution has blown up for Goose Island and that means they sell plenty more beer but getting your hands on more than one or two (if that) Bourbon County Stout on release day has become a lot more difficult in some parts of the country. Big Brew has seen this success and they have snatched up some of our favorite brewers. It is kinda like when your favorite band hits it big; you are happy that they have the deserved success but you're kinda pissed that you'll never see them at a small local club again.

The next few years of craft brew will be interesting for sure. What percentage of the seemingly endless number of mirco (and nano) brewers that are breaking ground daily will be able to make cost, let alone profit? It has felt like a bubble for a while now and we all know what happens to BUBBLES. Will there be enough to go around for everyone? Time will tell. Our mission, as The Imbibers (I like that word) is to do what we can to support our favorite beverage, drink local and make sure the community remains "99% asshole free." 

We would love to hear your thoughts!
Twitter: @inthebeerandnow

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