With the growth of taprooms in America, continuing to innovate and develop, Bob Pease — chief executive/president of the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade body representing small and independent American craft brewers — explores their impact on the wider beer industry
In America, the expansion of taprooms and trend towards beer tourism is an exciting development. More than 10 million people toured craft breweries in one year alone recently, and beer tourism is so strong that travel website Travelocity has published a beer tourism index.
We anticipate that local and even hyper-local breweries will continue to grow because beer lovers are demanding the unique on-premise experience they provide. Taprooms have found a winning formula with family-friendly environments, knowledgeable staff, clean beer lines and style-specific glassware.
They offer a chance for beer lovers to get ‘up close and personal’ to their favourite beers and connect with the personalities and characters behind the brand. Brewery owners benefit, too, because beer can be sold directly across the bar, giving a high profit margin as there are no shipping, distribution or retailing costs.
New research from Nielsen suggests that beer drinkers who are visiting breweries are drinking more beer generally, whereas those that don’t visit breweries are drinking less.
Of those who visited a brewery, 29% said they drank more beer, versus 21% who drank less. That’s a growth rate of 8%. For those who didn’t visit a brewery, 24% said they drank more and 28% said they drank less.
This could either mean visiting breweries is causing people to drink more beer, or people who are drinking more beer are seeking out breweries to visit. Whatever the reason, getting people into breweries is a win-win situation for the beer industry.
An 8% growth rate equates to approximately 4.5million barrels of beer (a barrel being 31 gallons), suggesting that beer consumption is going up more widely than at the brewery alone, and shows that brewery visits spill out into the wider market and help build beer sales in on- and off-trade premises.
Research indicates that the top three reasons beer lovers visit breweries have nothing to do with the fact they are a brewery! Any on-trade outlet or retailer can harness the following three key drivers that will help grow beer:
- The ability to sample various beers (eg flights of beer)
- To learn about different beers
- To enjoy fresh beer
Give beer lovers the variety, experience and quality they are looking for, and the volume will follow.
A wealth of resources
There are now more than 7,000 small and independent breweries in America, with thousands more in planning. That’s approximately 1,000 more than at this stage in 2017.
We are often asked if the States has reached peak brewery yet, and my answer is no, we are seeing few signs of brewery openings slowing down. Admittedly, it’s getting harder as competition increases, but there is still space in the markeplace for locally-focused, small and independent breweries to open and thrive.
We offer a wealth of resources on quality, safety, sustainability, technical aspects of brewing, etc that are available to download free of charge at www.brewersassociation.org
And for beer lovers we have:
The Brewers Association Guide to American Craft Beer: how to understand and appreciate great beer, looking at ingredients, terminology, best approaches for presenting and enjoying craft beer, and the many different styles of craft beer.
American Craft Beer and Food: Perfect Companions — a handy 12-page booklet detailing the basics of beer and food pairings, including a chart with 28 different beer styles showing pairing guidelines for main dishes, cheese and dessert.
About the Brewers Association
The Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts.
The BA represents 4,000-plus US breweries. The BA’s independent craft brewer seal is a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers by small and independent craft brewers.
The BA organises events including the World Beer Cup, Great American Beer Festival, Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America, SAVOR: An American Craft Beer and Food Experience, Homebrew Con, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week.
The BA publishes The New Brewer magazine, and Brewers Publications is the largest publisher of brewing literature in the US.
Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at CraftBeer.com and about homebrewing via the BA’s American Homebrewers Association and the free Brew Guru mobile app.