The Future of Beer - Seltzers? Craft Brewery Stabalisation? The Shake Out?

Donn Bichsel, former chief commercial officer, Revolution Brewing

“The next decade will show an increasing shrink in the number of brewery brands that are able to get deep into the distributor and retail tiers, and this will contribute to the number of buyouts and strategic partnerships. Distributors faced with a portfolio lacking in current growth captains such as Constellation and Mark Anthony Brands, in addition to aging second and third generation ownership with no clear succession plans, will continue to take current record multiples and head to a sunny destination.”

Kim Jordan, Co-Founder, New Belgium Brewing

“In terms of what’s next, that’s where we’ll inevitably see a shakeout and fewer breweries, so what will that mean for the beer business? Less choices, less innovation, or even breweries taking fewer chances? Or it could mean stabilization and a re-energized core of more successful breweries. Additionally, as we’ve already seen, the rise of cannabis and sobriety will play a role on the further impact of the beer category.”

Daniel Kenary, Co-Founder & CEO, Harpoon Brewery

“There will be a huge hangover from this unsustainable boom. The fast money will try to leave as quickly as it has entered, distorting economics again in the other direction. Those brewers who thought the good and easy times would last forever are in for a rude awakening.”

Adam Romanow, Founder, Castle Island Brewing Company

“The continued maturation of the category is going to force owners and leadership to get more organized, prepared, and professional. Pressures of consolidation, increased competition, and an unpredictable end consumer will mark a decade of breweries having to evolve into real businesses if they want to find growth. Expectations are going to have to be more modest, plans more developed, and business practices more honed. Ultimately I think we’ll see the next decade separate out the survivors from the passers-by, largely based on their ability to run a strong business that also happens to make incredible beer.”

Harry Schuhmacher, Founder, Beer Business Daily

“The drinker today looks toward something light in both alcohol and calories, but still cool. Tito's and soda accomplishes that. White Claw and Truly have found a way to put it in a can. While the last decade has been about big flavors, big alcohol content, and a cool story, the next decade will be about lower ABV, lower calories, and easy-drinking — story be damned.”

Sam Calagione, Founder, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

“Growing demand for beers that are high in flavor and food compatibility, but lower in calories: fruit-infused sour beers and low-cal IPAs are two categories we believe will grow strong for many years to come.”

John Bryant, Owner, No-Li Brewhouse

“The next decade will be about accelerated alcohol beverage category proliferation, brewer proliferation, consolidation and ever-changing customer drinking habits. Beer was a traditional American alcohol beverage. American drinking habits have changed with 21-to-28 year olds. The next decade will be about meeting and serving a new American alcohol consumer.”

Matt Fraser, COO, CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective

“Our consumers are going to continue demanding the latest new products. Their taste profiles will evolve over the next decade and we’ll see companies in our space evolve with our consumers. CANarchy plans to continue to innovate along with our consumers and get in front of the next pocket of significant growth within our category.”

Bart Watson, Chief Economist, Brewers Association

“For overall beer, I don’t see the demographic or price dynamics changing much, so stopping continued volume declines seems like a decade-long challenge. Seltzer has offered a brief reprieve, but it doesn’t change the overall math very much unless the new seltzer drinkers and the volume sourced from wine and spirits stays in beer as those consumers age. For craft, I think the central challenge will be avoiding ‘winefication’ where a plethora of choices lead to a fractured market where brands are challenged, styles reign supreme, and the space is dominated by portfolio companies with a long tail of small producers.”

Adam Lambert, Chief Revenue Officer, BrewDog USA

“I wish I had the crystal ball on this one. There’s going to be so many moving parts over the next ten years, including continued consolidation, joint ventures and M&A. We’ve lost 4.3% of total beer volume over the last ten years, but I don’t see this continuing. I see healthy lifestyle beverages growing, craft beer leveling out, and brewers actually trying to make money in beer. Meanwhile, seltzers aren’t going away, but another form of beverage will be coming right behind it.”

Jim McGreevy, CEO, Beer Institute

“We started the decade with brewers fighting one another over what federal excise tax relief should look like, and we are ending the decade with an extension of federal excise tax relief from a bill that was passed two years ago. I think for us in the policy space, the next 10 years should be about making sure beer is America’s beverage of choice. The industry has to collectively and individually act to keep beer popular, and that is not a done deal if we don’t do anything.”

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