That American Craft Beer Week (May 13-19) falls within National Burger Month is only fitting: the synergy between craft beers and craft burgers has helped both these businesses grow rapidly in the past decade. In his BurgerBusiness.com interview earlier this week, Slater’s 50/50 Co-founder Scott Slater said, “I attribute much of my success to craft beers. Four years ago, craft beer was just starting, as were better burgers.” The two have grown up together.
The Brewers Association estimates that craft beer sales totaled $10.2 billion in 2012, up from $8.7 billion in 2011. Researcher Mintel puts 2012 sales at $12 billion, double the $5.7 billion it estimates in 2007. And Mintel forecasts continued growth, expecting craft-beer sales to total $18 billion 2017.
The fastest growing segment? Hard cider, which Technomic says grew by 31.3% in 2011.
Even if craft beers’ contribution to restaurants and taverns is just the 54% of beer sales that the Beer Institute says go to on-premise accounts, that’s $5.7 billion in 2012 coming from craft beers at a time when restaurant customer traffic is flat. The overall U.S. beer market grew by 1% in 2012, the Beer Institute estimates. The beer industry relied on craft beers for growth the same way the restaurant industry needed breakfast gains to offset flat sales later in the day.
The largest craft breweries? The Brewers Association top 50 list begins with Boston Beer Co., Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., New Belgium Brewing Co, The Gambrinus Co. (Shiner and Bridgeport) and Deschutes Brewery. Tellingly, these five are in five different states. California leads with 268 craft breweries; Washington is next with 136. In total 2,347 craft breweries operated for at least part of 2012, comprised of 1,132 brewpubs, 1,118 microbreweries and 97 regional craft breweries.
Who’s drinking craft beers? Your youngest legal-age drinkers. Mintel says craft beers find favor with 49% of Millennials, 40% of GenX, 29% of baby boomers and 22% of the WWII generation. Millennials are also more likely to prefer a domestic craft beer over an import that are GenXers 10 years their senior. Taste shift quickly.
Have a chalkboard or table tents? Mintel says 45% of craft-beer drinkers say they would try more craft beers if they knew more about them.
Still haven’t crafted a craft-beer menu? It’s never too late and Technomic’s Christine LaFave Grace offers six good pointers on the researcher’s site.