The Brewers Association reports there are 2514 “brick and mortar” breweries in the USA as of May 31. American breweries are opening up at a rate of more than one a day. From what I’ve observed there’s still a lot of room for more breweries, each with their own unique models of making and serving their beers to all of us. If this were the time of old school thinking and 1980s marketplace dynamics, even I’d be a skeptic, but times have changed in ways that most beer sayers cannot really fathom. Today’s flourishing pioneer brewers and fresh out of the “fermenter” new brewers live in a beer world marketplace that is nearly impossible to comprehend. This isn’t the United States of beer. There is no one American market. There are thousands of unique American marketplace circumstances. There is not only one way to succeed. Underhanded marketplace tactics, common place decades ago, won’t be tolerated by beer drinkers and the public. It is a different world we live in and that’s why there is still a lot of room to thrive. There are many models that individually define each American craft brewery business and reason for being.
For the past few years I’ve personally taken the initiative to get off the beaten path; literally travelling thousands of miles on secondary roads, far from big city airport hubs to view what is happening in rural and small town USA, east and west, north and south – and I’ve also enjoyed exploring what’s new right in my own neighborhood.
For me these journeys are just as important, if not more so, than supermarket statistics, datapoints and extrapolated trends. There’s a trove of valuable intelligence that can be absorbed with on the ground conversations with brewers, owners, marketers, production people as well as beer drinkers, food service staff, retailers and beer distributors. You won’t see statistics emerge from my experiences – just gut extincts that have served me well for as long as I’ve been taking the journey that’s beer and brewing.
Stay tuned to 2013 beer journeys accounts and tales coming soon.
2013 isn’t even half over and I’ve managed visits to no less than 30 breweries, 9 of which were in my home county of Boulder, Colorado. I’ll be soon reporting with photos and account on these breweries, all of which are worth your visit if you’re in the area.
Where have I been recently?:
- In Washington DC: 3 Stars, Chocolate City and DC Brau brewing companies
- In Florida: Rapp, Tampa Bay and Barley Mow brewing companies
- In Virginia: Port City, Center of the Universe, Williamsburg Alewerks, Saint George, O’Connor and Smartmouth brewing companies
- In North Carolina: Outer Banks Brewing Station, Full Moon Brewery & Café, Natty Greene’s Pub & Brewing, Old Hickory Brewery Tap Room
- In South Carolina: Southend Brewery & Smokehouse, Westbrook, Palmetto, Coast and Holy City brewing companies
- In Boulder Colorado: Shine, West Flanders, the Original and New Bru Handcraft, J.W. Wells, Wild Woods, Left Hand, New Upslope, Fate and Twisted Pine brewing companies.
Throughout my journeys I attended homebrew rallies, state guild meetings and local brewery festivals.
On my schedule for the next three months in 2013 3rd quarter are brewery visits in eastern Washington, Montana, Maine, Salt Lake City and hoping to keep up with the breweries that will be opening in Boulder, Colorado