In recent months, we have seen those developments trumpeted in the beer press — and their effects indeed felt by breweries.
But, folks, this is a real possibility, and that is really alarming.
In the 1990s, the Wall Street Journal published a famous piece in which it poorly prognosticated: "Craft beer is dead, doomed by poor business practices, poor quality control, and overextension." We know how that turned out!
In 2008, poor business practices are, for the most part, not the case. But there are several worrisome developments:
- a sluggish economy (whether one calls it recession or not)
- expectations for this slowdown to continue into 2009
- continued increases in cost of raw goods — and glass and packaging — to breweries
- higher prices of craft beer to consumers
- reduction in consumers' disposable incomes
- faux craft beers offered by the big boys at lower prices than smaller breweries
Stay tuned ...
[Caveat emptor: I have a stake in all this as I work for the Clipper City Brewing Company. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the stance of the brewery.]