Wine Drinkers, Meet Beer Drinkers—Your New Allies
USA Today outlines the incredible explosion of Craft Beer.
There are 2,500 breweries in the U.S. And, USA Today reports, there are another 1,600 in the planning stages in 2013. Sales of independent craft brewers were up 15% over last year. A total of 7.3 million barrels of craft beer will be sold this year. 4.4 million were sold in 2009.
Does this sound familiar?
It should if you were part of the wine industry in the late 1980s and 1990s when artisan wine exploded. You can bet that the very same issues that impacted small wineries that could not find distributors to carry their product and were forced to pry open the three-tier system for direct shipping will be and are being faced by the craft brewers.
The brewers will have it easier than the wineries only because the wineries showed them the way, but not that much easier. Count on the beer wholesalers and their professional associations fighting tooth and nail to prevent direct shipping and brewery to retailer sales.
The good thing for all artisan-minded beer and wine professionals is that this new surge in the craft brewing and the politics that will follow it will put even greater pressure on what is an entirely archaic and unworkable three-tier system for anyone other than big wholesalers and big brewers.
Welcome to the fight, brewers!