The microcrobrewing industry in USA is the largest segment of the craft beer industry. It is also the segment with the most rapid growth. The big three control 92 % of the American beer market with micro and imports sharing the rest. Microbrewers have moved past the import market and have started taking a bite out of the big guys. Then who are the ones in the middle major-micros or mini-majors.
It was almost entirely craft brewing in America until about 1910. This is when the use of pasteurization and refrigeration began to separate the winners from the losers. Prohibition during the twenties just exacerbated the closing of plants. Over the nest fifty years the number of breweries dropped from 1500 to 230.
Fritz Maytag’s purchase of the Anchor Brewery started the revolution in 1969. He began brewing specialty beers. In 1977 Jack McCauliffe brewed the first American specialty ale and the race was on. Microbrewing took off West of the Mississippi and has been in growth mode ever since.
Two of the earliest to gain national recognition were Pete’s and Sam Adams. They chose to brew in all ready established breweries and instead of infrastructure they concentrated on product development, advertising and distribution. Looks like it worked as both groups have had great success. Are they really microbrewers? Well not anymore, but are they still craft brewers?Only you can decide.
Anhueser-Busch would like to crush them all. In markets where they haven’t been able to get the crush in, the squeeze on distributors to drop those pesky microbrews is in. Some small brewers bite the dust; others have simply given up the fight and joined the big guys by selling a percentage of their operations to them. Price wars, distribution scandals, craft brewing limited to regional existence where will it go?
Microbrewer total volume of barrels brewed was up 12% in 2006. Anti-trust suits over distribution strong arming by Anhueser-Busch have yet to be decided. Coors hooks up with Molson and sells Killian’s Red and Blue Moon as if they were craft brews. The President of the Oregon Brewers Association sells 31 % of his company to Anhueser-Busch. Who knows where it will end?
If Americans have really fallen in love with microbrews and it’s not just a passing fad, they will be with us for a long time. Does the American public want a product that is crafted with love or something mass produced? Right now the microbrewers are still in the batters´ box, but the big three have a mighty pitching staff with plenty of guys in the bullpen.
Budweiser in 2006 remains as the number one beer worldwide, with its little brother Bud Light coming in second, just a little food for thought. Speaking of food with beer as a basic food group in my life, think I’ll go pop a Sweetwater 420 and dream about my local microbrewery staying open for a long, long time.
all statistics from these sites
1. List of breweries in the United States – Wikipedia, the free …
2. Is Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar Safe to Weight Loss
3. Number of Breweries and Brewpubs in U.S. – Brewers Association