One of the great things about visiting new cities is trying new, regional beer. On a business trip to Atlanta, I jumped at the chance to try a handful of beers I can't find in my native Texas. On one evening, looking for food and drink within walking distance of my downtown Atlanta hotel, I stumbled on the listing for Max Lager's Wood Fired-Grill and Brewery. As it was generally well reviewed, and seemed reasonably priced for a downtown establishment, I figured I'd give it a try.
Over the past few years, many craft-beer enthusiasts have watched in horror as big beer conglomerates gobble up high-performing craft breweries. AB InBev, who owns brands such as Budwiser, Bud Light, Corona and Stella Artois, also owns ten (previously) craft breweries including Goose Island, Elysian and Wicked Weed. While, on the surface, it may seem that the slow and meticulous acquisition of high-performing craft beer brands is fairly innocuous and simply standard business practice, the results may be catastrophic to the craft beer industry.
In the modern age of beer production, the proliferation of craft beer leaves an unprecedented number of options and styles to choose from. As the 5,000+ craft breweries and traditional conglomerates jostle for market position and fight off external pressures, the battle to create the tastiest beer has never been fiercer.
As a fan of beer, I am constantly bombarded by incongruent news stories. It seems that the medical research community are unable to decide whether beer is good for you. It seems that beer, and more broadly alcohol, continues to be seen as an evil that causes a plethora of chronic diseases, conditions and ailments. But every now and then good beer news surfaces.
AB InBev's North American CEO Joao Castro Neves warns of beer losing its throne as the largest American alcohol market segment as soon as 2030. This projection is based on statistics showing a dramatic 33% loss of market share in the 21-27 year old demographic between 2006 and 2016. In the former, beer made up 65% of total alcohol consumption, falling to just 43% in 2016.
It's hard to deny the size and economic impact of America's craft beer industry. In fact, the Brewers Association estimates that the 24.6 million barrels of craft beer brewed in the U.S. in 2016 contributed $23.5billion to the economy.
It's a wonderful time of the year. Baseball is winding down, the NFL is off and running and the NBA and NHL are just about to start their 2017-2018 seasons. Sports fans have a lot to be happy about at this time of year. It would seem that beer companies have even more to celebrate.
If you're new to craft beer, or just not overly adventurous, theres a pretty good chance you've never tried a Gose-style beer. I am a little embarrassed to admit just how long it took for me to stumble upon this style, but once I did I knew I was onto a winner. As unappealing as it may sound at the outset, sour beers are (more often than not) delicious.