American Beer Prospecting: Is This Love Affair Set for Despair?

stages_bubble years

I’m not exactly saying one thing or another, but today’s announcement that the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau saw a record-high 3,699 active ‘permitted breweries’ in 2013 made me think of the above chart.

What you see is the number of permitted breweries (orange) from 1933 to 2013 overlaid on the stages of an economic bubble. Some context via Talking Head:

“We have tracked the industry since our preceding trade association was first founded in 1862, and there’s a story in these numbers. Beer is constantly evolving in the U.S., with more small brewers than ever before, more brands being introduced by national brewers and growing interest in imports,” said Chris Thorne, vice president of communications at the Beer Institute.

I’ve written about the prospect of the beer bubble before and what stood out most was the localized nature of the potential bubble. California, for example, had 508 permitted breweries in 2013, an increase of 145 from 2012. However, California is a big state with lots of interest in beer, so perhaps it can handle that increased demand.

However, looking at the prospect of a beer bubble also prompted me to create this chart in relation to the interest and potential ease of investment in craft beer:


… and I asked this question:

At a time when ambition to join the craft beer movement is rising thanks to incredible levels of interest, costs to get in the game may be going down. Does that just inflate the bubble even more?

Will today’s news provide a more definitive answer?

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

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