If you haven’t read my article, The State of San Diego Craft – 2015, you should. This will be a series of posts where I share the complete and full statements from 20+ amazing individuals that contributed to my work. This is it! The final post of statements that were shared with me while authoring my biggest article to date. I truly appreciate each and every person that took the time to write me and contribute to my work. When I started this process, I had no idea I would still be publishing these when it was time to start voting for the Sore Eye Cup (that happens tomorrow, by the way!), but there’s no way I would leave these amazing individuals out! Let’s jump in with one of my good friends, Tom for HoptologySD.com.
It is incredibly encouraging and exciting to see local independent craft brewers continuing to grow their place in the ever expanding beer market. There is little reason to believe that the continued brewing of high quality craft beer will see the community reach even more lofty numbers in 2016. However it should noted that the craft beer industry could be in a state of flux as the tail end of 2015 saw several very prominent craft brewers forsake their independence and sell to larger corporations to help with their goals for global expansion. While it is important to understand the nature of all business is to earn a financial profit, it has become very clear that supporting high quality, local breweries is now more important than ever. AB-InBev owned 10 Barrel brewing will soon be setting up shop in San Diego, while the people of 10 Barrel may have honest intentions of trying to be a part of the community, the same cannot be said of their corporate master who, over the years, have done everything in their attempts to regain lost portions of the beer market by aggressively acquiring the competition or limiting avenues of distribution, by purchasing some of the largest beer distributors in the country, in an effort for put them out of business.
The industry of craft is rapidly evolving but it will never be a bad idea to continue to support the the high quality local and independent brewers who are continuing to push and elevate San Diego to the top of heap for best beer cities in America and essentially the world.
“Craft Beer Brewing In San Diego. To brew or not to brew! That is the question.”
There is a saying that all seasoned real estate pros live by and that is when it comes to real estate investment the mantra is “Location, Location, Location!
In SD we have so many talented brewers that are pursuing the dream of owning their own brewery so they can pursue their dream job of brewing their beers for the discriminating public that one has to ask when is enough, enough? I have always said “there is no greater rush than to walk into a bar and see someone drinking and enjoying my beer and I didn’t have to buy it.” It is in itself intoxicating. But when the space is crowded it is kind of like when are there too many people on the boat? Don’t get me wrong because I am the last person to discourage someone from pursuing their dreams but am imploring those new breweries to really critically assess why they are entering the business and what they truly expect to receive from it in return for the countless hours and capital required to launch a beer business much less to make a living from it.
The beer business is a highly competitive and in many ways a cut throat business so be prepared to see the best and worst in some folks. The playing field is as level as the round edge of your favorite silver dollar and the big boys play for keeps. So be prepared to self-distribute which means you need capital. Build your business plans and lean heavily on the expense side of the ledger because everything costs more and takes more time to accomplish then you can imagine so the mantra is capital and lots of it if you really expect to climb the mountain.
We all took notice when BP shocked the world with their $1B announcement. It sounded like the CA gold rush all over again but rest assured that unless you are Stone, Green Flash and a few others that have been grinding it out for years, there are no unicorns in your future as the BP ship has sailed. So be sure to do the self-assessment before leaving your home brew kitchen to become SD’s next brewery because it just isn’t going to happen no matter how good you are unless you have a great idea, excellent beer and “Capital, Capital, Capital!!
We’ll follow that with Beth Demmon, beer writer for City Beat. I recently said on a podcast that I had already published this, for the permanent record, Beth was correct and I was not. Even I make mistakes everynow and then.
I’d say that 2015 was the year that craft beer as an industry really started to matter. Not that it didn’t before, but 2015 marked a noticeable shift from more of an insulated subculture to the forefront of the beer industry itself. It also seemed to be the year of expansion, both globally and domestically. More breweries opened second or third locations than went out of business, which is a fantastic direction for the industry as a whole.
My predictions for 2016? Unfortunately, probably more divisiveness within the community when it comes to the business of beer as different definitions of terms like “craft” and “independent” continue to evolve. As far as beer style trends, I think that IPAs and fruit-boosted styles have had their day. I’m hoping that it’s time for lagers to shine and we shift back to a focus on balanced beers as opposed to the bigger, the better.
Following her, let’s hear from the man that designed the Sore Eye Suds logo, Jay Sanders, the CEO of HopsHighway.com.
Last year’s growth in the San Diego craft beer industry was tremendous. New breweries opening their doors every month, numerous awards from the world’s most prestigious competitions and a collective movement towards crafting a variety of beer styles, have all been major factors in our regions success. Whats really helps San Diego’s craft beer industry thrive is the comradery & friendly nature of the breweries. A mindset and willingness to help & educate others, even though they might be competitors has strengthened the quality of beers as a whole.
The economic impact for 2016 looks very promising, as craft beer continues to extend it reach to the casual drinker and become more mainstream. I don’t see any indications of things slowing down. In fact many breweries are currently expanding, building additional locations and ramping up distribution as demand for San Diego’s handcrafted ales increases throughout the country.
Oh, you thought we were done? Not yet, I’m going to close it out with Aaron Garcia, the guy behind The Brew Buzz.
I absolutely LOVE that fact that both the Craft beer industry AND community experienced exponential growth in 2015 and it doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon. But with a bigger audience and more options on where to get Craft beer, I think it’s essential to advocate the heart of Craft Beer, get back to the roots on why Craft beer started and that is QUALITY. That relates to both the industry and the community.
Industry – Most people got into brewing because they felt they could brew a better beer than ones they have experienced. And while thinking you can and actually doing it are two different things, I think it would benefit the industry to have more collaboration brews. Where two brewers can talk, exchange and help each other learn how to be better. There are over 100 breweries in San Diego alone, but to be honest, not all of them are good. I know many Craft Beer enthusiasts who, like myself, have their own list of breweries they will not drink from. But if we shared our knowledge and helped each other get better, those lists should shrink.
Most people go into business for money but with the Craft Beer industry, I feel like you should have some passion for Craft as well. It’s disheartening to go into a new brewery or craft bar and try to talk with some of the employees about Craft Beer only to find out they don’t really know much about the product they are serving. Then you have places like Machete whose owners have passion for Craft and you instantly fall in love, places like that will always get my full support. Sharing knowledge is important in Craft Beer.
Community – Everyday there is someone turning into a Craft Beer lover, and I LOVE it! But I feel like us veterans should be more supportive of this growth. So what if someone is excited to have Pliny the Elder, or younger, or even Sculpin. Sure we may have had it more times than we can count but that doesn’t make us better people. It was funny once, maybe thrice but do we really have to comment with things like “No pliney no care”, or “man I miss the 2010 craft scene”, or anything else that screams “I’m better than you”. I know people have their inside jokes with their circle of friends but it gets old seeing that time after time and honestly, it’s off putting. I spent a few months retracted from the community because of its snobbery. But we should really bring back what we love about the community; good, friendly, nice and quality individuals.
There you have it folks! When I started researching this article
in March, I had no idea I would still be talking about it at the end of June. I’ve learned a ton along the way, including, but not limited to: the strength of (and awesomeness) this industry and community truly still lies within the amazing people behind it, to understand the fluidity and complexities of this industry enough to author a “State of the Union” article was a mammoth task that I thrived on unequivocally, and that not one person involved in the industry thinks about it or goes about it the same way. I think that individualistic, entrepreneurial approach is one of the core strengths of craft beer in general, not just here in San Diego.
Be passionate about the beer you consume, learn to truly assess beer quality, support breweries that produce amazing products, choose to patronize local, independent breweries, realize the industry and community in SD are much bigger than you can imagine, be informative to beer drinkers that may not have your knowledge, appreciate the extensive variety of beer that is offered here in our home town, buy that macro drinking uncle of yours a super approachable San Diego craft beer, meetup with friends at new breweries and try them out, and always remember we are very lucky to live in the Capital of Craft!
To conclude, and quote one of my favorite movies of all time, “Be excellent to each other. And… PARTY ON, DUDES!”