Wednesday, 6 February 2019

The bubble bursts?

Over the weekend, there was an article in the Sunday Telegraph entitled Craft beer bubble bursts with glut of new brands. It reported:
“There is still growth, but the market is now much tougher for new entrants,” says Jonny Forsyth, global drinks analyst at market research group Mintel.

“The number of brands is outstripping the growth and now people with money are wising up to the market.

“If someone asked me to invest in a craft beer company now, I’d say ‘no way, that ship has long sailed.’”...

...This view is shared by Mr Forsyth, who says that the quality of new craft beer is often not of a high standard.

“We see a lot of brands starting from scratch, and a lot of these people are not expert brewers,” he said.

“The best brewers tend to work for the bigger companies.

“The quality can leave a bit to desire and although they can charge a lot of money, it doesn’t mean it’s made by experts.”

While the reports of its death may be somewhat exaggerated, there is undoubtedly a widespread feeling that the market has become saturated and we are at or approaching a crest of the wave moment.

The article also falls into the familiar problem of definition. It states that craft only accounts for 5% of the British beer market, but surely a large proportion of the 14% of on-trade beer sales that are cask also fall into the craft category, unless you’re arguing that they are two mutually exclusive concepts.

And, as the Morning Advertiser reported last year, most of the big brands within that category are actually owned by international brewers, and so wouldn’t count as craft by the US definition.

25 comments:

  1. It was always going to burst at some point. Who should get the bulk of our sympathy, I ponder?
    The investors in microbreweries? The craft artisans who gave up their city careers? Drinkers that built a personality and identity around liking a particular type of drink?
    It's the beer writers and bloggers I most shed tears for. They are the people in my thoughts. I hope they see the future and move quickly into articles about artisan quinoa porridge.

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  2. Craft was destined to be a burst bubble from the moment it became a trend, supported by a 'movement', rather than the niche it had been, and where it will settle back down into, albeit bigger.

    "...This view is shared by Mr Forsyth, who says that the quality of new craft beer is often not of a high standard." Indeed, often caused by the smaller brewers not having access to quality ingredients - mostly malt - at sensible prices, so they use substandard malt with higher nitrogen content that will cause problems during the brew and produces murky beer that'll never clear without robust filtering, and call it naturally cloudy or unfined, with the poor taste masked by overhopping and weird added ingredients. That's not to say there isn't any decent murk or differently-flavoured beer out there, but the quality stuff isn't as common as people would think.

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  3. My experience has been that the poorer quality beer on the market from start ups has been cask conditioned perhaps because a lower investment is needed in plant and equipment. Keg producers appear on the whole to be better capitalised and are capable of producing a more consistent product.

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  4. Whatever. It came, it went, nobody missed it when it went.

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  5. And imagine the carnage if duty was brought into line with the likes of Adnams and Robinsons.

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    Replies
    1. I've seen the argument that even some relaxation of the duty taper would represent unfair competition.

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  6. The craft beer bubble is nowhere near burst its on the way up.Here in London its easier to get good keg than good cask.A lot of the pubs with loads of cask pumps seem to have no beer on some of them but the keg fonts are always stocked.If you brew poor beer it wont sell and the pubs will not buy anymore beer from you.The trend in London is for new bars /bottleshops and taprooms to be keg only which indicates which way the wind is blowing on craft versus cask. cheers

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    Replies
    1. "Here in London." Nuff said...

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    2. Didn't someone say, "Where London leads, the rest of the country follows"?

      You cannot dismiss the capital, just because it doesn't fit in with world view. Craft may well have peaked, but I wouldn't go writing it off yet.

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    3. In contrast, as I wrote here, "It’s sometimes said that, where London leads, the rest of the country eventually follows but, in wider terms spreading well beyond the world of beer, I get the feeling that the two are increasingly heading in different directions."

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    4. Yes, roll on Scotlond.

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    5. Good keg.. An oxymoron amongst real ale drinkers.

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    6. There is certainly a market for poor beer. I don't know if it is sold due to a lower price, or because certain establishments will buy anything new, but I have been served some utterly dreadful beer, mostly I have to say from new breweries.

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  7. But millions of people are dismissing the Capital. Like, Middlesbrough, say, would be just fine without it.

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  8. Craft Beer is growing in popularity in cities such as Cardiff,Manchester,Bristol and,yes,even in Middlesborough

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  9. Craft will never die so long as there are thick snobs willing to pay over the odds to gain a sense of superiority over the general population.

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    Replies
    1. What, like subscription football TV, you mean?

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  10. Craft beer:
    Brewed by wankers
    Sold in wanker bars
    Drunk by wankers
    Tastes like wank

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    Replies
    1. You love it.

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    2. They'll always be wankers. Sometimes a lot of them. Sometimes a few. Look at CAMRA. That membership goes up and down but there's enough wankers to keep it going. Same with craft beer. None of them want it to be mainstream anyway. The exclusivity is the appeal. They enjoy it more if it's a small circle jerk.

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  11. Surely it is not a bubble unless sales decrease rapidly. The UK has almost certainly reached saturation point, but a lack of growth does not mean a burst bubble.

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    Replies
    1. No, it's not even all over yet for crypto.

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  12. As far as Carlsberg are concerned, craft beer is still fueling growth in their business. Although the report does say this is growth of craft across Europe rather than growth in the UK.

    https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-6675853/Fashion-craft-beers-helps-fizz-Carlsberg.html

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  13. Increasingly Real Ale seems more of an oxymoron to me.cheers

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