Last year was a busy one for the Colorado craft beer scene. Thirty new breweries opened and fifteen closed. This year is ramping up to be just as exciting, with many new breweries joining the ranks of Colorado craft. But, with the anticipation of the new comes the uncertainty of the future, and the question of the proverbial “bubble” bursting due to oversaturation.
Our year-end survey asked brewery owners and representatives what challenges they anticipate in the coming year and, at the top of the list were concerns about an over-crowded market, over-saturation, and consumers growing tired of the beer scene. Fighting for shelf space was another anticipated challenge, as was standing out on the shelf among all of the other brews. With 313 breweries currently open, and more seemingly on the way each day, it is easy to understand the concerns coming from those in the industry.
Chris Hill from Odyssey Beerwerks in Arvada poses the questions on many respondents minds: “Have we hit the point of saturation in the Colorado brewing industry? If so, how do we continue to innovate and stay relevant? I think that’s a question that a lot of us are asking.”
So, with the current predicament of an ever-increasing amount of competition, how do you remain relevant, and how do you deal with the growth? We posed this question to Colorado brewery owners and representatives, and got several responses.
Overwhelmingly, survey respondents agreed that focusing on having a consistent, high-quality product will help them stand out and keep beer connoisseurs coming back for more.
Ryan Evans from Bruz Beers broke it down this way, “Quality will be king – without it you will feel the crunch. Over the next two years you will start to see the breweries with the lowest quality offerings feel the stress and start to close.”
So with quality and relevance on the table as front of mind, what can we expect to see coming to the tasting rooms of our favorite breweries? From the responses we received, it is going to be a great year for drinking beer. From sticking to classics to trying new things, responses were all over the board, which is to be expected with all of the different minds and personalities that make up the Colorado craft beer canvas. Andrew Duvall from Resolute Brewing Company beguiled us by saying, “The future is bright for Resolute. We are cracking into a barrel aging program, new lagers, and experimental ales.” Betsy Lay with Lady Justice Brewing affirmed that shes “continuing to focus on perfecting what Lady J is good at – classic style ales done well. If time allows, I’d love to experiment more with a variety of newer yeast strains.”
While barreling will be a continuing trend, Launch Pad Brewery and Snowbank Brewing Company plan to focus on more sessionable brews. Aaron Murphy of Welcome Home Brewery said this of the session direction: “I think it will be the year of the session beer. The BA and sour fads are fading out.”
It definitely sounds like we are going to be treated to a revitalization and rediscovery of lagers and in 2018. We can look for “more crafty lagers” from Scott at Grimm Brothers Brewhouse – with Kettle and Spoke and Cerebral also expressed interest in creating more lagers this year. Maggie Read from Avery Brewing had this to say about the style: “I’ve been getting into more traditional German lagers. I’ve seen a couple breweries do really well going in that direction and it’s definitely a diversion from what I typically drink. I want to become more well-versed in lager styles.” Darren from Spangalang Brewery attested that “We don’t really worry about trends, we brew everything. We’ll probably be brewing more lagers than this year, but we’ve always brewed lagers.”
Sometimes, nothing is better than a really good pilsner, and both SKEYE Brewing and Goldspot Brewing Company have plans for this style in 2018. Brad Landman summed it up best with what beer The Post is looking forward to jumping into: “I love great pilsners. Not a new style, but an awesome style.” Personally, I couldn’t agree more and am looking forward to another summer of tasting all the pilsners.
From focusing on old-world styles, to revamping historical beers or a focus on cultural styles, beer-drinkers have a lot to look forward to in 2018. We appreciate the responses we received and the glimpse into the year to come. I think it will be a collaborative year with breweries working together and focusing on making really good beer – which is what I love best about the Colorado craft beer scene. I think that Bess Dougherty from The Grateful Gnome said is best: “Keep being rad nerds!”