Am I a beer, wine or spirits snob? How about you, are you a snob? I have been thinking about this lately.
I read a blog from an Australian blogger that talked about her anti-craft beer movement. She said that when she goes to at brew pub, she wants the cheapest, low characteristic beer the establishment has to offer. She didn't want to talk about the beer, she was more interested in social conversation. I got the impression from what she wrote that she thought people into craft beers were snobs. Then I was talking to a liquor store proprietor who started telling me how he didn't like snobs. He made the point that if he only sold what he liked he would go out of business. Well that seems true but what's the point?
So that got me thinking: am I a snob because I have a particular taste for hoppy beers, oaky and buttery Pinot Noir, or certain craft single malt whiskey? You may not like that type of beer, wine or spirit but I don't think it makes you or me a snob. Most beer wine and spirit enthusiasts are always ready to try something different and new-any adventure seeking enthusiast can't possibly be a snob. Just because I don't want to drink a Bud/Coors/Miller/Pabst doesn't make me a snob. The majority of the beer drinking population account for 85% of beer sales, and they like that type of beer. As long as you don't think less of people that don't share you tastes, you are not a snob. That goes both ways.
I can't deny the large sales dollars, but I recall not that many years ago when sales of craft beers was virtually nonexistent. The big breweries were not worried about craft brewery because they couldn't see it catching on. Well look at the landscape today. Craft breweries have made a big dent In beer sales in many countries of the world so much so that big breweries started buying in investing in craft breweries. August Busch III, the youngest member of the Anheuser-Busch family, convinced his board and family to invest into Icehouse and Redhook. Those investments proved to be extremely financially successful for the Anheuser-Busch Corporation. Redhook became the first small brewery to have locations on both east and west coasts of the United States. Today there are craft brew pubs in almost every medium to large size city in America, Britain and Australia. My town of less than 50,000 people has one craft Distillery, three brewpubs and a meadery.
Where do I see the future of craft breweries? According to the Beer Brewers Association, craft beer sales were about 8% market share versus import and domestic in 2013. This equated to around 10% against 2013 domestic production and sales. It is estimated that as of 2015, craft breweries represent about 15% of beer sales compared to domestic production and sales. The projection is that this will grow to about 30% in the next 10 years.
Wine is now produced in each of the 50 states. There are currently about 200 craft distilleries that have sprung up across America. It is said by some that variety is the spice of life-there are wines, beer craft and domestic, spirits both craft and traditional to suit the taste and pocket book of everyone. In my business I network with quite a lot of people. Some are on the consumer side, some on the distribution side, and some on the production side. Of everyone I've met, only 1 or 2 would I truly consider a snob. The rest, I call spirited enthusiasts. The key to social interaction is respect of differences. Be happy and share your alcohol experience.
Jim St. Germain is president of St. Germain Cellars and the resident hops enthusiast. When he isn't evangelizing IPAs (75+ IBUs!), he enjoys a nice glass of pinot noir or good whiskey, neat.