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!
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. Contact Katie Mixon with questions about scholarships and applications: PKatieMixon@gmail.com.
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.
Happy Hour and Sushi Specials All Week
Red Bowl in Lexington now has great early bird and late night sushi specials 7 days a week, as well as 99-cent kids meals on Saturdays! Click here for special information and hours.
Brew Pub Site Available
3520 Augusta Road, West Columbia. Click for more information.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Pool Cleaning Full & P/T avail. Must have a clean driving record, organized and have a professional appearance. Starting Pay is $10.00/hr. 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. Please call for an interview. 803-865-1200
Free Times is looking for a highly organized, detail-oriented self-starter to assist in gathering material from advertisers, coordinating between the sales and production departments, and handling routine clerical tasks. Must be proficient on a Mac, able to conduct business via phone, email, text, Dropbox, social media platforms and face to face while under deadline in a fast-paced, sometimes distracting work environment. The position requires the ability to multitask, excellent oral and written communication skills, and solid experience in quickly learning new computer programs. This is a full time position with benefits. Send a cover letter, resume and salary expectation to email@example.com.
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Wing Zone is now hiring for experienced delivery drivers, cooks & cashiers. Apply in person @ 132 Assembly St. or call 803-933-9464.
Real Estate Spotlight
Single Family Home for rent 3359 Makeway Dr. 3BR/1.5BA. Hardwood floors, garage, central heat/AC, fenced yard, all appl. newly renovated. Call 803-960-1058. $1095/mo.
Mungo Homes. Celebrating 60 years of our family building for your family. mungo.com