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The Washington Post has a story about how “more craft breweries closed in 2017 than any other time in the last decade,” and how, “although craft beer makers saw more growth in production than the overall market last year, the pace is slowing.”

The reason, experts say, is that there is “an increasingly crowded playing field, leading to more closures of small craft breweries. In 2017, there were nearly 1,000 new brewery openings nationwide and 165 closures — a closing rate of 2.6%. That's a 42% jump from 2016, when 116 craft breweries closed.”

There also is the inevitable maturing of the marketplace, plus the fact that major breweries are now buying craft brewers as a way of protecting their flanks and creating more innovation within their organizations.
KC's View:
This is all cyclical, and always will be. I can remember back in the mid-eighties, I was working for the now-defunct Supermarket Business magazine, and was assigned to write a category story about the beer business. I hated writing category stories of any kind, mostly because (trade secret here) they only exist so publishers can sell advertising to companies in those categories (which they continue to do today). They aren’t interesting to write or read.

But, being a rebellious sort, I decided to embrace the moment by writing about Samuel Adams beer and the Boston Beer Company, which was pioneering the craft beer business at that point in time, and about how breweries like those could change the industry.

(I also, if memory serves, made all sorts of references to the beer preferences of Spenser, Robert B. Parker’s creation, and quoted poet A.E. Housman: “Malt does more than Milton can,To justify God's ways to man.” My goal was to write a category story that was fun to write and read, and maybe even annoy my editors a little bit.)

My point is this. That’s something like 35 years ago. Craft beer and brewpubs have been hot at various points during those years, and they’ve cooled off from time to time. What I know is that brewpubs that make their own beer also tend to make great food, and I’ll be a craft beer customer until I drop. Some things aren’t cyclical.