"Only time will tell if we stand the test of time."
These wise words of wisdom, a gift from rock gods Van Halen (via the Sammy Hagar era), fit quite well into the body of a debate that is raging across the American landscape. Namely: will the craft beer boom last, or will the bubble burst and the masses return to drinking well-marketed light American lagers? Of course, the "masses", a.k.a. the vast majority of consumers, are still buying the big boys' brews, but the craft beer market share is growing every year... from a virtual blip at 3% in 2000, to a practically massive 5.7% in 2011. Doesn't seem like much, but it still represents a near doubling in just 12 years!
Anyway, what I'm trying to say here is that steady growth in the craft beer industry is the reality of the moment. But as we learned in "Why Can't This Be Love?", there is no certainty it will continue. However, I personally see no reason this trend can't survive, and for a good deal longer. No, I haven't done extensive market research or found a similar industry with which to draw analogous conclusions, but I have personally witnessed the explosion of interest from friends and family (and the general public), and the corresponding need for breweries to expand to meet the demand. Such an organic, market driven growth - not influenced by outside sources (sales of mortgage-backed securities, a la the housing bubble) or blind, frantic over-investment (the tech bubble of the late 90's) - should be sustainable until it reaches a natural saturation point.
But enough of the economics lesson. We're here to talk good beer, and it's spread in our own region. That's where one Maryland brewery is taking advantage of the upswing to bring their product to a wider population. DuClaw Brewing Company, based in Bel Air, will be trumpeting its move into the DC and Northern Virginia area tomorrow night with a launch party at The Big Hunt in Dupont Circle starting at 6pm.
Plenty of the always fun and friendly DuClaw peeps will be in attendance, sharing a wide selection of their beer and giving away free prizes. It should be quite a festive occasion, and a great opportunity for the lucky folks in Washington to try some excellent brews for the first time. Also, a good number of their six-packs and 22oz bottles will be available in bars, restaurants, and stores all over town within the next few weeks. Keep your eyes open, my friends!
It's always good to see a local boy making good, and these guys are definitely making good... beer, that is! (Sorry.) So there is definitely reason to celebrate - bringing your quality product to a wider audience can only lead to bigger and better things. And those should not be far behind, as DuClaw is also planning to expand their brewing operation in the near future to keep up with the growing demand. I, for one, am looking forward to having even more good, local beer available in Baltimore, DC, and the surrounding areas.
So if I were you, I wouldn't worry about the so-called "beer bubble" bursting anytime soon. But I would definitely hop on board and take the ride as far as it will go... there's bound to be a few twists and turns, but there will also be many delicious beverages to make it all worthwhile.
See you tomorrow, DC!