The craft beer bubble burst that everyone’s been afraid of for the past 10 years might finally be here. Anheuser-Busch InBev, the largest beer company in the world, admitted that the craft beer market has slowed down for three months straight, The Columbian reports.
“There’s a natural point where it can’t grow anymore and this might be it,” Anthony Bucalo, an analyst with the financial services company HSBC, told The Columbian. “Consumers are overwhelmed by too much choice; the industry has been swamped. There’s too many brands, too many styles, not enough quality.”
The fact that AB InBev wrote the report is notable. The company bought eight craft breweries from 2011 to 2016, not to mention a merger with SABMiller, the next largest beer company in the world. Craft brews have been taking market share from American macro lager for years, and there are now more breweries in the country than ever before (although not per capita).
Competition among craft brewers is stiff, and the alcohol market is fickle. Trends come and go, but craft beers’ near 15-year rise has stayed relatively steady. It might be about time for a correction, though.
“This past decade has been so good to us and to the industry that it seems that at some point there will be a correction,” Jeremy Kosmicki, the brewmaster at Founders Brewing Company, told VinePair in September. “People always say, ‘are you going to get bored with it?’ and for the first ten years of my career I was thinking, ‘is this a fad? Is this going to go away at any time now?’”
But Stone Brewing, one of the largest craft brewers in the nation, laid off 1,200 employees (5 percent of their total employees) this month.
Craft beer isn’t going anywhere just yet. The local movement — including local beer — is only growing. The beer side of that just isn’t growing quite as fast as it once was.