By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Beer Blogger
There is a decline in craft beer consumption. According to the Brewer’s Assocation, which keeps track of such things, it has dropped 2% in 2023. Beyond that, many craft brewers – including San Francisco’s decades-old Anchor Brewing – have closed.
As analysits and so-called industry experts pour over the reasons for this, the answer is obvious. Apparently they can’t see the forest for the trees. It’s the same problem that hit NASCAR at the peak of its popularity: oversaturation.
There are simply too many craft beer brewries and brewies in the U.S. In 2022, according to our beer statistical friends at the Brewer’s Assocaion, there ae reaching an all-time high of 9,522 craft breweris in America, including 2,035 microbreweries, 3,418 brewpubs, 3,838 taproom breweries, and 261 regional craft breweries. Well that was in 2022 anyway; the number is a bit lower in 2023.
Here in San Diego for eample – the “Craft of Craft” as it is known – there are more than 150 breweries. How in the world can a city sustain so many places to drink craft beer, even with a population of 3.2 millon? It can’t. In fact one, Rincon Reservation Road Brewery, has closed after just one year.
Sure, give the people what they want. But giving them too much of it is not good for business.
Just ask NASCAR. At its peak in 2005, it scheduled double races at tracks, including one here at California Speedway. The first race attracted more than 100,000 fans so let’s have another one was the philisophy. Well it never worked and in fact affected attendance at the initial March date. Eventually, NASCAR left the market and the speedway – built by Roger Penske – is closed and set to be demolished. It only opened in 1997.
NASCAR had double races at other tracks, too, and that took away the urgency to go to the original race. It was the ‘ol “well we can always go again in the fall,” fan adage but of course, come fall they don’t go because “well we can always go to the one in the spring (or summer).” The only place that could get away with two races in the same year was Daytona with the season-opening Daytona 500 and the Firecracker 400 (or whatever it’s called now) race which was for decades on July 4 weekend.
Back to craft beer, anothe factor in the decline is that the novelty of it has worn off and thus drinking patterns change. When craft beer exploded onto the scene it was cool – and different – to get away from the tradtional big-name brands of Bud, Miller and Coors. Before it became “a thing,” I always enjoyed going up to Portland, which was the original craft beer city. I could try all sorts of different and good beers from local brewers: Bridgeport Brewing, Portland Beer Company and Full Sail to name three.
After spending time drinking those beers, it took a week or so for the palate to readjust to the non-craft brews.
From a beer drinker’s standpoint, the more craft beer the better. We get variety, choices and better beer. But from a business stadpoint, too much of a good thing is not really a good thing.
About PubClub.com And Kevin Wilkerson
PubClub.com is one of the original websites on the Internet. It features articles on nightlife, food & drink, events, activities, travel and sports. It has been featured in USA Today, the LA Times and American Way magazine, among other publications. Kevin Wilkerson is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in daily newspapers and with the Associated Press. He has been to pubs and clubs and drank beer throughout the world and is an authoritative figure on the topics covered by the website.