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Craft Beer in Oregon (or locally produced non-macro lager if you prefer) is still going gangbusters according to the Oregon Brewers Guild:
PORTLAND, Ore. (June 26, 2013) – The Oregon Brewers Guild announced today that Oregon’s breweries crafted 1,296,000 barrels of beer (or roughly 321 million pints) during 2012, an 11 percent increase from the previous year.
Oregon currently has 137 brewing companies operating 174 brewing facilities in 59 cities across the state. There are currently 51 breweries in Portland, 15 in Bend and 10 in Eugene.
More than 17 percent of the 2.79 million barrels of all beer — both bottled and draft — consumed in the state were made in Oregon. For draft beer, that percentage is even higher, with Oregon breweries producing an estimated 47 percent of all draft beer consumed in the state. Oregonians consumed 12.8 percent more Oregon craft beer over last year, equaling 483,400 barrels. Craft beer production in the U.S. grew 15 percent in 2012 and now represents 6.5 percent of the total volume of beer brewed in the United States.This last bit is what really strikes me: consumption in Oregon grew 12.8% and 47% of all draft beer consumed is Oregon craft beer (add in the out-of-state craft beer and you are certainly talking about more than half of all draft beer consumed in the state being craft beer of some sort).
To the extent that Oregon represents the most mature craft beer market in the US and perhaps the world, this shows that there is still a lot of room to grow. My favorite personal index is the college student consumption that I see in my day job as an OSU professor - watching college-types buy beer at the market, drink beer in the bars and talk about their likes and dislikes among a myriad of styles suggests to me that the sea change has come: beer has been redefined. Beer is now defined by having a plethora of styles, brands and tastes. Beer is now connected to place, time and personality. Beer from Bend or Eugene or Hood River is considered different stylistically and provenancially (I may have just made that word up). Seasonal and special one-offs give beer a time dimension it did not have in the macro days. And brewers are becoming figure-heads, spokespeople for their beer and their brewing philosophy.
All of this to me suggests that we are defining a new market not re-defining an old one. I am not so sure how much it makes sense to talk about taking market share from the macros any more as it really is about shifting a different demand curve. What these Oregon data suggest to me is that there is still a lot of shifting of the curve that can be done. For example I suspect that part of the dominance in draft beer is that craft is really growing the pub trade again. Take the 'tap room.' Almost all craft breweries have them and they are extremely popular --- why? They are typically underwhelming spaces with limited ambiance and food, often out of the way in industrial enclaves and have limited hours. But they are extremely popular and I think it has to do with the way people want to relate to their beer: they want to connect to the source. [There is, of course, the element of ironic hipster-ism: let the suburban affluents roll up to the bucolic Yamhill wineries in their Volvo SUVs and sip wine, we are biking on out fixies to the grungy industrial district to chug beer in a corrugated iron warehouse!] This is a 180 degree turnabout from the macro days and suggests again that we are talking about a different product all together.
So with each release of these annual statistics there is the inevitable talk about saturation, future growth and so on. Though there will inevitably be failures and shake-outs I suspect that the overall growth in craft beer, even in Oregon, will continue unabated for quite some time. The market might be less forgiving to breweries like Migration that took quite some time to find their footing and the inevitable grow-or-die calculus that is the inexorable result of the inherent economies of scale in beer will claim victims, I would still back most new breweries to survive and even thrive.