Beer Economics: The Rise of Craft Beers

By: Dylan Rodgers

As the recession trudges onward, it is no wonder that beer sales around the country have dropped by nearly 1 percent.  At the same time, beer sales have also jumped 10 percent.

Wait... huh?

That's right:  beer sales have simultaneously fallen and risen.  The kicker is that the cheaper beers like Bush, Coors, and Michelob (recession brewskies as I call 'em) are down 1 percent.  It's the craft beers, those made in smaller quantities by smaller companies that have spiked with the colossal increase of 10 percent.

Aside from being an interesting/counterintuitive fact, these figures are more than simple statistics; they represent a refining of our tastes.  Our palates have become more receptive to complexity, and interesting, almost artistic brewing ingredients and techniques.

During this recession, Americans aren't buying less beer to save a buck or two.  No way!  We're spending even more money per bottle for brews that focus on taste and body rather than 'drinkability' and low concentration of carbs.  It would seem that when given the choice, Americans are choosing quality rather than quantity, something that had been all but extinct when Sam's, Walmart, BJ's, and Target are taking into consideration.

Personally, I often find it a tough decision between a 12 pack of mediocre beer versus a 6 pack of Magic Hat, Smutty Nose, or Marble.  I have always preached quality over quantity, but I must admit I have often chosen the latter in economic lows without regret.

Lately though, I realize that I fall into the same category as the rest of Americans who are paying a little more for a little less.  It is strange that an economic recession would elevate the public's tastes.  No matter the reason, I am glad to see beer crafters, nay, beer aficionados getting the nationwide recognition they deserve.

Photo: Sciascia

What's your favorite craft beer?