It’s not every day a bunch of home enthusiasts create an industry. But that is what happened. In 1978, when Congress passed a bill repealing Federal restrictions and excise taxes, and President Jimmy Carter signed the bill, H.R. 1337, into law, the legions of homebrewers stepped out of the shadows and into the garages and backyards of America. What began as the right to brew your own beer, turned into the world’s largest business expansion. From a few initial craft breweries in the early 1980s to over 7000 today. Wow!
What needs to happen now is a contraction. Breweries should keep opening but I have been to some god-awful breweries that need to disappear, and soon. For the past few years, you could open up a brewery and you’d do business, regardless of how good you were. With 7000+ breweries, people will eventually try more than one local brewery and discover that some of them make better beer than others. Those with inferior skills will fail to prosper and close. It’s starting to happen here as several brewpubs have shut down in the past couple years. And it needs to continue, lest people start to associate terrible beer with the term craft beer.
Evolution is a fact of life, even in the beer industry. Those breweries that fill the need, and do it better than others will survive while others perish. Don’t worry, there will still be a market for memorabilia from those defunct breweries.