The new year might be challenging for craft brewers. Recently, a few pundits have opined in various beer publications that the industry is heading for the same type of shakeout that occurred in the late 1990s. During that time, there was a quick spurt of growth in craft beer that ended in a collapse that was labeled a bursting of a bubble. Many entrepreneurs had jumped on the craft beer bandwagon expecting big and quick profits. Much of the beer produced was, candidly, not particularly good — and that, among other factors, led to the collapse. Today, most of the men and women leaping into brewing are passionate about craft beer and are in brewing for the love of beer (and their desire to make a living at it). Even though the quality of craft beer that is available today is extraordinary, the danger is real: We could be headed for an oversupply of excellent beer.
The market for craft beer is growing, but not nearly as fast as the supply of an incredible selection of beautiful beers. One of the laws of economics is that when supply exceeds demand there is a problem for producers. For generations, megabrewers have used effective and relentless advertising to increase the demand for their products and create brand loyalty, but craft brewers are financially unable to do this. Craft brewers by necessity rely on word of mouth and guerrilla marketing techniques such as festivals to reach potential customers — a slow process, indeed.
So will there be a shakeout? Unfortunately, I think so, because the number of craft brewers is increasing too quickly. The survivors will be the brewers (and their investors) who have the patience to tolerate slow growth and the capital to hold on during the lean times. Regrettably, these survivors may not be the best brewers. The most successful and widely distributed craft breweries today, such as Rogue, Brooklyn Brewing and Sierra Nevada, have been around for over 25 years. The new guys have a long road ahead of them.
For now, the overabundance of outstanding craft beer with its many choices is a boon for consumers. My concern is that many enthusiasts, while they do not have brand loyalty, tend to gravitate toward a particular style such as IPA and stay with it; the style becomes a comfort zone. I have noticed that many good beers languish on the shelves of local retailers because they are largely unknown in this area. For craft beer to prosper and the market to grow, enthusiasts must be willing to expand their beer horizons.
I have asked some local beer people for some suggestions on beers that are available in Columbia but are underappreciated. These suggestions are a good starting point to break out from your comfort zone in the new year:
Wes Patrick of Green’s Beverage Warehouse: Green Flash West Coast IPA
Doug Aylard of Vino Garage: Konig Pilsner
Tucker Turner of Morganelli’s: Jester King’s Mad Meg
Ashley Bower, organizer of the Columbia chapter of Girl’s Pint Out: Coast Brewing’s 32/50 Kolsch.
If you gravitate towards hoppy beers, then make an effort to explore the complex maltiness of beers such as Brooklyn or Samuel Adams Brown Ale. If you prefer malty beers, then try some of the more hoppy beers that still have a solid malt base, such as Harpoon IPA or Aviator Red.
To really get out of your comfort zone, select something new and different at your favorite bar or local retailer — be willing to take chances. Last week I did exactly this at the Vino Garage and found an interesting-looking beer called Colonel Blides Cask Ale from New Jersey’s Cricket Hill Brewery, a beer and brewery I had never heard of. This one is an English-style ESB and is a tasty discovery that I am glad I made. Cheers!
Back to School Tattoo Specials
Magnum Ink is offering 1/2 off all tattoos for students over 18 as well as 2 for $60 on letters or numbers for state employees. 1405 Rushmore Road, Suite B, right off of Broad River.
Music Break at Music Farm Columbia
Join COR for an evening of networking for music and business leaders on September 3rd, featuring performances by Josh Roberts and the Hinges, Death of Paris, Fat Rat Da Czar, and Lazy A and the Green Thang. Free admission for musicians and members! Register here.
Make Your Own Beer and Wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop: 736 St. Andrews Road.
Accepting Applications for Shakespeare’s Kidz!
Students ages 10-16 are invited to join South Carolina Shakespeare’s new youth company, with classes running September 20th-December 11th followed by a final performance. Learn and hone audition skills, monologues, and scenes from Shakespeare and modern works! Contact Katie Mixon with questions about scholarships and applications: PKatieMixon@gmail.com.
Not Your Typical Greek Restaurant
Ariana’s in West Columbia serves up delicious all-natural, low carb dishes, as well as homemade bread and baklava. Come try the best salad dressing in town! Location info and hours here.
Delicious Downtown Breakfast
Tony’s is open for breakfast every day from 7:30-10:30! Conveniently located on Washington St. right off Main. Stop in for something filling and delicious before work! Follow us for updates on specials.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Company seeking carpenters, plumbers, masons work is year around with a 40 year old company. Starting pay is $10.00 but experienced individuals will be compensated accordingly. Must have a clean driving record and must bring a copy of your driving record to the interview. Please call 803-865-1200.
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Pool Cleaning-Full and part time available. Must have a clean driving record, be organized and have a professional appearance. Starting Pay is $10.00 per hr, please call for an interview, please bring a copy of your Driving record and a list of all past employers with duration of employment listed as well as telephone numbers for references. Cal 803-865-1200
Real Estate Spotlight
Mungo Homes. Celebrating 60 years of our family building for your family. mungo.com