The end of another year has us a little wistful. Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and so on. Before we launch into another big year – during which HopCat will be celebrating its 10th anniversary, by the way – let’s take a look back on some of the biggest headlines from the craft beer world in 2017
Hard to deny it was another solid year for the craft beer industtry. Despite some signs of a slowdown overall, steady growth continued – craft beer for the first time accounted for more than 10 percent of the total beer market in the United States as of 2016, a trend that continued in 2017. In another all-time first, the number of craft breweries in the U.S. topped 6,000. [Paste Magazine]
The Empire strikes back
The major narrative in our segment of the industry, not surprisingly, is ongoing tension between craft brewers and their macro counterparts. Anheuser-Busch InBev continued its rampage through the craft market. Its most notable acquisition this year was Wicked Weed. This has led to a Resistance against the Empire throughout the galaxy, most visibly through a boycott against so-called “impostor” beer brands. (Hey, we didn’t say these were all happy stories.) [Business Insider]
The Brewers Association trade group weighed in over the summer when it introduced a certification label for independent craft brewers. [CraftBeer.com] Somewhat less seriously, the BA launched the Take Craft Back campaign, a joke effort to raise the $213 billion that would enable craft brewers to buy AB InBev. [Men’s Journal] But it’s encouraging that more restaurants and bars are kicking Big Beer off their tap lists and going all-craft. Not that anyone's keeping score, but we were sort of ahead of this curve. [Washington Post]
Good for the community
An underappreciated aspect of craft brewing is how instrumental it can be in reviving the economies of city neighborhoods and small-towns. A study of the area around HopCat’s birthplace, Grand Rapids, found that breweries here generated an additional $7 million in spending. [Curbed]
Tax breaks, mixed feelings
The final version of the GOP's tax-overhaul bill contains a provision that cuts the tax rate in half for small beer producers. Such welcome tax relief from an otherwise unpopular bill has put a lot of craft brewers – most of whom fall on the progressive side of the political spectrum – in a somewhat uncomfortable position. [Brew Studs]
Canning is big business
It’s not exactly breaking news, but more and more craft brewers are selling their beers in cans instead of, or in addition to, bottles. Growth has been steady in this realm since about 2011. But more recent data points to an interesting trend – that smaller, newer breweries have been quicker to embrace the trend than more established ones. [Brewers Association]
Brewers are good people
This was a rough year in a lot of ways, but there were plenty of reminders that the people who make our beer are making the world a better place in other ways, too. Here’s a story about craft breweries in Las Vegas that helped collect donations after the horrific mass shooting at a country music festival. Here’s a story about breweries in Houston raising money to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. Here’s a story about craft breweries organizing fundraising efforts for those affected by the wildfires in California.
So, 2017 might have sucked, but at least there was good beer to get us through it, and good people making it.