The craft beer boom of the 21st century is a unique movement to say the least. Tired with the limited, bland choices of commercial beers that are produced as cheaply as possible and in mass quantities, many have turned to the craft beer niche for a nice and flavorful change. What’s even more interesting about this trend, however, is the fact that many millennial entrepreneurs are now taking to the burgeoning craft beer market as their next career move.
A True Art Form
Crafting beer that is tasty, innovative and refreshing really is an art form that can only be learned through hands-on experience. Regardless of any proprietary company techniques or close-guarded family secrets, much of the craft beer seen from microbreweries today is brewed in a rather similar manner to one another. As you’ll see in the infographic below, the unique tastes associated with each specific microbrew is usually attributed to the blend of malts, hops and grains used during the brewing process.
How to Succeed in the Industry
Simply put, there’s a lot to familiarize yourself with when planning to open a new microbrewery. Local laws and regulations regarding the production of alcoholic beverages, as well as the sale of such beverages, can be full of legal jargon and complications that are best left up to a knowledgeable and licensed legal professional.
You’ll also want to make sure you are mentally prepared to start and operate a new business in a market that is as competitive as the craft beer scene. The market thrives on creativity, ingenuity and community involvement, so you’ll want to consider some strategies for catering to the expectations of those who actually drink craft beer.
Finally, industry experts suggest a minimum of $250,000 in capital to start a brand new brewery. With such a significant investment involved in the startup process, it’s important that you are confident in your overall plan.
Given the current saturation of the craft beer market, it’s possible to find a microbrewery in nearly every state. In fact, the Brewers Association reports that most U.S. citizens live within 10 miles or less of a microbrewery. However, some regions are much more prolific than others when it comes to the craft beer scene.
With this in mind, millennial entrepreneurs who are targeting the craft beer market have to make a critical decision regarding the geographic location of their new microbrewery. Since healthy competition is always beneficial to the community, locating your upcoming establishment within an area that is already known for microbreweries might sound like a great idea. However, the amount of competition may make it difficult to spread awareness about your own brand.
On the other hand, an area that has little or nothing to do with the craft beer market may be reluctant to allow such an establishment into the community to begin with. In such cases, it might not be worth the hassle of jumping through legal hoops and angering the locals just to start your business. As you can see, it’s not an easy choice to be made.
Portland, Oregon, for example, currently boasts more than 70 microbreweries. One such establishment, Pelican Pub & Brewery, features a number of different craft beers that all fall under the Pelican Brewery family of drinks. Other popular states for craft beer include Colorado, Delaware, North Carolina, Michigan and more.
Beer City USA
Although a now defunct contest, Beer City USA focused on finding and highlighting the best microbrewery options around the United States. The final recipient of the Beer City USA title was awarded to the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2013. They also came to a draw with Asheville, North Carolina, in 2012.
Future Opportunities in the Craft Beer Market
There’s no denying the fact that we’ve seen a steady uptick in breweries, including both large-scale, regional breweries and smaller, localized microbreweries, over the past several decades. In fact, craft beer sales in the U.S. actually surpassed that of the largest commercial beer producer, Budweiser, for the first time in 2014.
While this certainly presents millennial entrepreneurs with the opportunity to penetrate a market that has been consistently growing and expanding, one has to be careful to avoid falling victim to any temporary trends that may be provoking unrealistic visions of success in the craft beer niche. However, given the amount of positive social change and even economic growth that has been spurred on by microbreweries as of late, it’s safe to say the trend isn’t going away anytime soon.