Hospitality Trends: Craft Beer
Americans now-a-days love their craft beers. This has been one of the major hospitality trends gripping the nation over the past two or three years. Which is evident in the number of craft breweries that have been sprouting up throughout the nation even given the slow economy of the last few years. But the question now is will this growth bubble burst like bubble gum or will it form a strong lacy foam that like atop a Yonker’s Stout (You should try it if you haven’t). The beer market has been one of the strongest growth markets in recent years, but all of the big name brewers (Coors, Anheuser-Busch InBev, etc.) have been posting marginal revenue increases if any. This means that the large majority of the economic growth is occurring in the craft beer market. Craft Breweries are defined by the Brewer’s Association as independently owned beer producers that make less than 6 million barrels of beer annually.
While the new surge to the economy from the increase of businesses is very much welcomed by all, the question stands, don’t you miss the days where you knew what you were ordering? There are times when I enter a bar and I am unfamiliar with every tap line. The answer across America appears to be a resounding “No.” Craft beer producers seem to be in touch with the markets’ desires. Because most craft breweries produce a line of four to seven different beers at any given time including a light wheat or session ale, an amber, an IPA, a stout, and possibly a seasonal. This leaves restauranteurs and bar owners to navigate this plentiful industry to create a beverage program that fits their unique concept.
New York State and New York City specifically have an excellent craft beer industry. Three specific examples have the Hog and Rooster Hospitality team excited. First, Ninkasi Brewing has earned distribution rights in New York City. Ninkasi is from Oregon and is named after the Sumerian goddess of beer. One of their flagship beers is Believer, a double red ale with a complex malt element that presents itself through dried fruit, toffee, caramel, and roasted chocolate notes. Unfortunately due to some logistical issues Ninkasi release parties have been delayed about a week. Blind Tiger in the Lower East Side will be hosting one on the 9th of June. The Jeffery in the Upper East Side and the Gate in Park Slope Brooklyn should both be hosting parties around that date as well. Secondly, Crown Maple Syrup has partnered with Newburgh Brewing for production of a maple sap saison, which should be sold come this fall. Thirdly, an on premise brewery has finally opened in the Bronx. Gunhill Brewery began production in January 2014 and has been turning out formidable brews since. Quickly capturing some of the Manhattan market and developing an enjoyable taproom experience with special one-off kegs that are only served in the taproom such as the pomegranate wheat ale.
With so much growth in the craft beer industry, the next natural economic step in the market is consolidation. About a month ago, InBev purchased Blue Point Brewery, one of New York State’s first craft breweries. For better or for worst, InBev will be investing millions of dollars to increase the size of the Blue Point Brewery and create more of a hospitality destination. Improvements include food service and docks for visitors by boat. InBev will also use its existing infrastructure to put Blue Point Brewery products on the national market and possibly even international markets. Hog and Rooster Hospitality expects this model to continue with other larger craft breweries. As the largest brewing companies in the world see the little companies taking more and more market share, they will create craft brewery presence by producing speciality brands (ie. 3rd Shift) or purchasing craft breweries.
This all comes down to one point. American beer now is extremely flavorful and promises to stay that way for the near and foreseeable future as even large corporations see small 10,000 barrel operations as competitors and/or investments. This is good news for everyone that enjoys beer.
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