2017 Industry Predictions
The craft beer industry in San Diego is always evolving, and as we turn the page on another year we thought it would be interesting to hear from some industry insiders on where things might be headed in 2017.
Greg Koch - Stone Brewing Co. Executive Chairman & Co-Founder
“There’s never been a time in my 20 years in craft brewing where the details of the future in my crystal ball have appeared more fuzzy. I used to hazard educated guesses, and been pretty fairly on the money in years past, but the unpredictability of the (craft) beer world has left my crystal ball a bit fuzzy. There’s no doubt we’re in for some potentially tumultuous times as an industry due to oversaturation of new breweries that continues at a significant me-too pace. Luckily, for the consumer new beers, breweries, and opportunities for discover will continue to abound. Stone Brewing will continue to be an authentic, independent San Diego-based brewery that will continue to represent locally, and around the world…but then that’s not a prediction, that’s a promise!”
Jill Davidson - President of SD Brewers Guild / Pizza Port Western Regional Sales Manager
“Hyperlocal” will continue to boom in 2017, which will mean an increased number of duplicate tasting room licenses. As the number of breweries increase, overall growth of the craft segment will stay consistent in the 8-10% range. Self distribution will continue to flourish in CA. The number of small breweries in CA who outgrow the ability to self-distribute will increase the need for craft-focused distribution companies. I expect to see at least a handful of those pop up this year. There will be more buyouts and acquisitions which will put stresses on regional and national distribution for mid-size and large production breweries, particularly in states that do not have self distro rights. I predict the veteran breweries in San Diego to teach the new guys a thing or two, and vice-versa. I’d expect some pretty neat collaborations on the horizon for 2017. With the amount of projects SD breweries have abroad, I also anticipate American influence in the European craft market to continue to flourish. While IPAs are still hot, I expect some of the traditional styles (traditional pale ales, lagers, browns) to gain back some ground this year.”
Derek Gallinosa - Head Brewer Abnormal Beer Co.
“In the year 2017, especially in San Diego, I think the two biggest trends will be 1) More
people becoming craft beer consumers and 2) Consumers educating themselves more and more. As a result, businesses will need to adjust on both the manufacturing and retail sides of the industry. Manufacturers must understand that with more competitors (both local and non local) entering the San Diego market it’ll be tougher and tougher to stand out and get those tap handles or shelf space. We need to continue to be innovative; pushing the limits on what beer can be as well as honing in the recipes of classic styles. Overall, I see breweries pushing each other to create better products as time goes by. On the retail side, bar managers need to be more aware of the quality of their beer programs. Proper line cleaning and faucet maintenance are no brainers, but having the courage to give feedback to breweries and tell them what consumers are saying is just as important. We, as brewers, need to know what to improve on. By doing this, more manufacturers will be aware of their product’s quality and how it fits into the marketplace resulting in higher quality products which will ultimately improve the quality of beer bars everywhere. From the manufacturer to the retailers, we want to present the best products possible to both craft beer newbies and veterans.”
Phil MacNitt - Modern Times Sales Manager
“I predict 2017 will see the rise of the regional/local lager, particularly pilsner; Think local craft versions of regional macro stalwarts like Narragansett, Rainier or Olympia. I also foresee the "tightening up" of SKU proliferation and rotation on the supplier, distributor and retail side. There will still be a lot of them, but there will be more discontinued SKUs to go with it. The rise of the hazy/murky/New England/whatever-your-preferred-distinction-is IPA will continue across the country. Breweries will also offer more non-alcoholic beverages to complement their portfolio of beers: coffee, kombucha, tea, soda, etc. to name a few.”