This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

Why Success Is Killing the Craft Brew Industry

That's wonderful, but it also doesn't tell a whole lot of the story. While the number of breweries in the U.S. has exploded from fewer than 100 in the 1980s to more than 2,400 today, the older, bigger craft breweries are still fueling a great deal of the "craft" segment's growth. They're also completely different animals, with Boston Beer and the Craft Brewers Association accounting to shareholders as publicly traded companies and New Belgium, Sierra, Oskar Blues and the other East Coast migrants now playing a hand in local and interstate politics, policy and economics.

Compared with the industrial park tasting rooms, bike-up garage stands or even small brewpub operations throughout the country, they're enormous. While the craft label is conferred as a show of respect and an indication of a brewer that's still experimenting and trying new products, it's also way too small for its outsized pioneer breweries.

Even Boston Beer founder Jim Koch has a saying that he's fond of using whenever the craft debate comes up: Beer is beer. He quotes his father and grandfather as saying "all beer is good -- some beer is better, but all beer is good." It's also the crux of the Beer Institute's arguments for cuts to beer excise taxes across the board, but has gone largely ignored by the folks at the Brewers Association.

Listen, we get it: Everybody wants to save some cash and small brewers who've been at this for a while might not be so keen on sharing the wealth with the big brewers who made it tough for them to carve out a place in the market. Understandable. But to take brewers whose reach spans a continent and whose output is measured in the millions and tag them with the same craft label you'd apply to a small-town barrelhouse is not only disingenuous, but sells those bigger brewers short.

Kids who were born when Boston Beer and New Belgium were founded are now drinking-age adults. They've never known a world without these brewers or one where there was no alternative to light lagers such as Bud, Miller and Coors. To them, beers such as Sierra Nevada, Widmer, Saranac, Brooklyn and some of the other full-grown small breweries aren't "craft," they're just beer.

Wasn't that the point, making good beer and interesting styles a default rather than the alternative? Isn't that a win? If not, then what exactly are craft brewers fighting for? With each scuffle like this, the answer seems less clear.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to

>To submit a news tip, send an email to:


3 of 3

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
BREW $8.00 0.00%
BUD $110.04 0.00%
SAM $211.11 0.00%
TAP $83.84 0.00%
AAPL $110.38 0.00%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 16,472.37 +200.36 1.23%
S&P 500 1,951.36 +27.54 1.43%
NASDAQ 4,707.7750 +80.6910 1.74%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs