In 2015, U.S. craft beer sales amounted to 12% of the national beer market.
More research by the Brewers Association estimated that craft brewers – defined by businesses that produce 6 million barrels of beer or less annually – should account for 20% of the national beer market by 2020. Denver, home of GoSpotCheck, has 63 licensed breweries – a fifth of all breweries in Colorado. In fact, the capital of Colorado has more craft beer sales per capita than any other city in the United States.
There are over 4,000 breweries in the U.S. today – and shelf space is becoming increasingly rare. As such, breweries must find innovative ways to reach consumers. Instead of traditional distribution means, craft breweries are prioritizing selling beer in-house, instead of placing beer in bars, restaurants, and other on-premise locations.
Although there are clear benefits to distribution – like a wider audience and additional revenue from new outlets – many breweries prefer to sell direct-to-consumer. This way, breweries can carefully monitor how exactly the beer is sold and marketed. Temperatures can be checked and packaging perfected.
Steve Kurowski, marketing director of the Colorado Brewers Guild, believes that distribution channels are a challenge for breweries. “The opportunity does not lie in high-volume distribution right now,” Kurowski said.
To maximize revenue, breweries often open more than one location before focusing on additional distribution. Instead of working to turn a profit through outside avenues immediately, breweries are beginning to put time and energy into growing a loyal fan base. From there, opening a second brewery is a viable next option. Breweries have also become a venue similar to a neighborhood bar – a hangout for nearby locals.
However, the concerns surrounding distribution to restaurants and bars still resonate for breweries when opening more locations. Environmental consistency, including the beer itself, is incredibly important. Data collection methods, often in the form of SaaS tools, can be extremely helpful for breweries to ensure collaboration across locations and uniformity across the board.