Two things have happened this month that make me consider the possibility that I should start a new tag at the blog, because I may be writing about this topic some in the future. That tag references the long-dreaded popping of the bubble in the craft beer industry. Craft beer fans have been bracing ourselves for this inevitability for a while, and recent developments make me worry that it is eminent.
But, first, a quick look at where we've been recently. There was a time, not long ago, when I had to travel a couple of hours to find decent beer to buy. It seems to have only been in the past four years that things changed and I was able to find good beer in nearby Roanoke. The relative accessibility of craft beer was a novelty to me, and as I am in Roanoke at least once a week, it seemed like it might be fun to start this blog and begin reviewing those beers as an ancilary hobby. And that is what I did in January of 2013 with a brief but glowing review of Founders Imperial Stout.
In the past (almost) four years I have made friends in home-brewing, craft-retail, and national beer distribution. And among all of them I have heard rumblings about fear that the bubble is going to pop. The popularity of craft beer has grown at an insane rate over the past few years. When I started reviewing beer on the internet, I had to drive two or three hours to find something fit to buy. Now I can buy damn fine beer ten minutes from home. It has always seemed like an unsustainable dream come true.
All I've done for the past couple of years is bask in the glory of it. I love having local access to really good beer. I love being just one part of a growing, extremely local, grass-roots beer community. I love being just one more fan of something I've come to think of as "mouth music." So I hate to think that two recent developments give me real reasons to believe that the much-lamented, inevitable bursting of the craft beer bubble might be nipping at our heals.
One of the news items that has me concerned is Stone's round of lay-offs. Another news story, and once that effects me personally, as it will change the contents of my refrigerator, is Firestone Walker's elimination of three of their best regular releases. Wookey Jack in particular hits me like a ton of bricks. I love that beer. I hate to see it going away.
Those noteworthy news stories in an industry I care about necessitated the creation of a new post-tag at this blog. I'll call that tag #BeerBubble, and I hope I never have reason to post with it again.
But I won't bet on it.