Most - the huge 90% plus majority of beer is sold by big brewers. That's a fact. When people slag off big brewers, they are, by and large dissing almost everyone that drinks beer. It isn't usually looked at that way, but that's really how it is. I'd say if that isn't snobbery, what is? But of course, I'm a beer snob too. Not as much as some, but a snob nonetheless.
Now the fact that flavour and character has been eliminated from big brands is hardly a revalation, nor is the fact that a lot of consumers are turning to craft brewing as a way of getting that flavour, not only back, but enhanced. He went on to tell us that SAB Miller is entering the craft market, but admitted that it is "difficult for big companies to incubate small brands. That, at its heart, is the dilemma. To start a small brand in a credible, consistent, sticking-to-it kind of way is hard for big companies. That's what small entrepreneurs do best.” When they do enter the market, craft brewers feel "we're stealing their authenticity. What we say is, 'Let the consumer decide.' If we're authentic enough for the consumer, that's authentic enough for anyone.
Mackay sees difficult times ahead for craft beer. "I don't think the craft movement in its current guise will continue to grow indefinitely. I don't think it can. It's not economic. Too many people won't make any money. Too many of them will go out of business. And I think it will become less fashionable. These things are fashion to some extent,"
So how much of that do you agree with? Will the craft bubble burst? Will the big players whittle it away, or will they just whittle away at at it? Is it just fashion? Do these observations which are largely aimed at a US audience have much traction here? I'm not sure. I think there are two markets running on parallel lines. I doubt if craft beer will have a crash here, though they ought to watch the warning signs on overpricing, which is endemic and complacency about the big guys, which is institutional, as well as the inevitable dog eats dog situation that will develop if the market continues to grow and recession continues to provide an unhealthy backdrop to spending on beer.
At the end of the day, Mr Mackay is right about one thing. If it is authentic enough for the consumer, that's authentic enough for anyone. That's not just a warning, but a prophecy.
Read the full article here in E-Malt. Or above really!