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  • Writer's pictureVik F.

Sipping on the Stats, A Refreshing Look at the 2024 Beer Report

The craft beer world is a colorful tapestry of taste and tradition, and as we hop into the 2024 Beer Report, it's clear that our beloved tapestry is ever-changing. With the nimbleness of an agile brewmaster, the industry continues to adapt, seeking new ways to satisfy our collective thirst for quality and innovation.


As we pour over the latest figures, it's heartening to see that the decline in craft beer sales is losing its fizz, slowing down compared to the more heady days of yesteryear. Much like a lower-seeded team in March Madness dreaming of Cinderella stories, it's the regional craft brewers that are lacing up their dancing shoes, ready to take the stage and help the segment bounce back.


Brian Sudano of S&D Insights brings us a hoppy note from the stats, noting a slight market decline of around 1.5% in 2023. Yet, it's the strong local players that are making the most buzz, rather than the more widespread or national brands. It's a crafty move that seems to be paying off, as loyal customers are gravitating towards these local favorites, each with its own unique blend of community spirit and flavor.


Let's talk numbers — because what's a report without them? Dollar sales for craft beer were down just a tad at 0.8%, a soft whisper compared to the previous year's 4.7% decrease. And while case sales also dipped by 4%, it's a gentler slope than the prior 8.6% downturn. Perhaps it's a sign that our palates are settling into a comfortable rhythm with the beers we've grown to love.


And oh, how the tables have turned, quite literally, for some of the craft beer's biggest names. New Belgium is leading the pack with an impressive 22.6% increase in dollar sales and a 17.2% hike in case sales. On the flip side, Blue Moon faced a bit of a cloudy period, with a 9.2% decrease in dollar sales and a 12.5% fall in case sales. Yet, every brew has its day, and the ebb and flow of the market is as natural as the fermentation process itself.


Mergers and acquisitions are frothing up the market, too. The landscape is changing, with some major players consolidating their efforts and others, like the champions at Tilray and Kirin Holdings, snapping up craft brands to bolster their portfolios.


But let's not forget the power of the pint — or the passion behind it. Independent operations are becoming the darlings of the craft beer scene. Their success is rooted in their ability to command attention at the retail level, an approach that might just be the yeast they need to rise.


NielsenIQ's mavens of malt, Jon Berg and Kaleigh Theriault, remind us that consumers might not always notice the mergers and acquisitions. Instead, they remain loyal to their favorite brands and flavors. It's the craft beer's ability to tap into the local zeitgeist and serve up a rotating menu of new and exciting flavors that keeps the market frothy.


The report isn't shy about its stars — IPAs continue to reign supreme, with American IPAs, Imperial IPAs, and Hazy IPAs making a particularly strong pour. The rise of flavor-forward brews, like Dogfish Head's Mandarin & Mango Crush and SweetWater Brewing Co.'s Gummies line, are testaments to the evolving tastes of beer enthusiasts who crave a bold and juicy twist in their suds.


As we cap off this look at the 2024 Beer Report, it's clear that the craft beer industry is not just about brewing beverages; it's about brewing experiences. It's about creating a community pint by pint, flavor by flavor. So, here's to the craft brewers, the trendsetters, the flavor innovators, and, most importantly, to you — the beer lovers who make all this possible. May your glasses be ever full and your choices ever-flavorful. Cheers to the ever-evolving journey of craft beer!

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