The number was put on the table. It sounded good. It was big, ambitious and bold. Or crazy and unrealistic.This point will not be foreign to any reader of this blog (if there are any). One of the things that fascinates me about the craft beer industry, however, is this constant tension between being cutting edge and innovative and scaling up. How cutting edge and innovative can you seem when your brand becomes part of the establishment. Will New Belgium and Sierra Nevada be able to grow like nuts when faced with local competition in many markets that is seen as newer, fresher, cooler?
When the guiding lights of American craft brewing met last weekend at the St. Julien Hotel in Boulder to sharpen their vision and undoubtedly drink a lot of good beer, the suggestion was raised that craft brewers should try to claim 20 percent of the U.S. beer market by 2020.
Patrick Emerson, an associate professor of economics at Oregon State University who studies the economics of beer, said those larger craft brewers are the key to the 20/20 goal.
“It is not fantasy to imagine that kind of overall growth but the big factor is always going to be scale and competing on price,” he said. “Why I think it is possible is not so much the proliferation of new tiny breweries but the maturation of the big craft brewers ala New Belgium, Sierra Nevada and the like that are starting to achieve very significant scale economies and can keep prices competitive.”
Who knows! That's what is so fun about it.