There is an old English saying “may you live in interesting times” and I think anyone involved in the craft beer market for the last 18 months would agree that it has been a roller coaster. No one was prepared for a global pandemic but with challenge comes change and some interesting trends have appeared in the craft beer market which we have also seen first hand at FAB.
Move to e-commerce was inevitable as breweries large and small looked to find ways to sell beer to their customers. With bars, pubs and tap rooms closed breweries needed to find new markets and it was online that grew. FAB saw our online sales move from less than 5% of our overall revenue to 40% last year and many brewers I have spoken to report even bigger shifts. Of course this led to breweries moving to bottles and cans away from cask which has created some interesting challenges for the industry as demand outstripped supply.
Growth in local has been seen across so many industries from vegetables to beer with consumers looking to support their local businesses. Even though things moved online customers wanted to buy locally and local businesses were able to find ways to do doorstep deliveries during lock down.
Explosion of home bars perhaps not a surprise when you give people time at home but it has led to a growth in the mini keg and beer-in-box (BiB). FAB has certainly seen a huge growth in people using BiB from 5L to 20L so that they can have real ale on hand pull at home.
Demand for higher ABVs was an interesting trend to come out of the pandemic. Industry wide there has been a generational change with younger people drinking less volume but wanting full flavour higher abv beers. However, with people at home more they were happier to try stronger beers. We certainly saw a demand for high ABVs and it was why our new Magic Ale brewed in 2021 to celebrate 30 years of the AWACS was made a 5.2% American Pale Ale.
These trends have continued even as things have opened up again and it will be interesting to see what 2022 brings us. One thing is certain, all the small brewers I talk to including ourselves are extremely grateful for our local customers.