Beer has a long and storied history, with recipes dating back to some of the earliest recorded civilizations. It’s highly preferred in the U.S., too. Aggregated Gallup polls from 2010 through 2016 show beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in America. Overall, beer is preferred over wine and liquor by 54 percent of men and 23 percent of women, and 43 percent of all Americans claim it as their beverage of choice.
Beer is an essential component of every bar. Let’s take a look at how craft beer is an increasingly important element of the overall market and how that can impact your business.
The continuing rise of craft beer
All beer is not created equal. Decades of preference for large domestic brewers has given way to a more diverse market, where craft beer makes up an increasing number of sales. Statistics from the Brewers Association show a steady rise in craft beer sales during 2015, the last year for which complete statistics are available. While the overall market for beer stayed nearly flat – dropping by 0.2 percent to around 197 million barrels produced – craft beer as a category saw a significant increase. That subset of the market grew by 12.8 percent and accounted for about 24 million barrels of overall beer production.
What is craft beer, exactly?
All the hype surrounding craft beer can make it hard to remember what defines this type of beer as compared to larger companies that generally brew mass-produced, traditionally styled beer alongside some newer offerings.
The volume of beer produced is one of the defining characteristics of this category. Craft beer can only be produced by craft brewers, which the Brewers Association defines as companies filling fewer than 6 million barrels per year. Additionally, the company cannot have more than 25 percent of ownership held by an alcohol industry member that is not also a craft brewer. Finally, the brewer has to make beer – flavored malt beverages, those drinks with a similar alcohol content but significantly different flavor profile than beer, don’t count.
Double-digit growth is impressive in any industry, and it’s not a stretch to say craft beer is gaining popularity among American drinkers. While there’s nothing wrong with keeping old standbys and regional favorites on tap – this approach makes sure non-craft beer fans have options too – your bar should at the very least consider offering craft beers.
Who drinks them?
Craft beers are especially popular with millennials, Entrepreneur said. With drinkers of legal age in that category gravitating toward craft beers instead of industrially produced ones, this category offers some unique advantages to bar owners. Building positive relationships with younger customers by offering options to match their tastes can pay off over time and reward your bar with months, years or even decades of regular visits. Young people also tend to have fewer obligations in their lives, which can translate to more frequent patronage.
The explosive growth of craft beer means more than millennials drink them, however. With tens of millions of barrels sold in recent years, plenty of members of other generations enjoy this form of brew as well.
Using craft beer to your advantage
More craft brewers pop up every year. Along with the larger producers in the category, consider reaching out to some local craft breweries to inquire about beers you feel pair well with your bar. The good news is making the move to craft beer is a relatively simple one. If you need to fund an expansion or the acquisition of additional equipment to serve craft beer, consider using alternative business financing to address the costs and give your customers what they want.