Julia Herz Responds to Jon Taffer’s Comments on American Craft Beer

By Julia Herz

Bar Rescue icon Jon Taffer was recently interviewed in an article in Cheers Magazine about the trends he predicts will boost bar revenue in 2016. Hey Jon we love ya, but while I obviously also love looking at trends within the beverage industry (it’s a huge part of what we do at the Brewers Association), I disagree with a few of your statements in regards to breweries.

Here is the comment that I posted in response to the interview. Do you have similar feelings about some of his statements?

I’ll be sure to report back here if he responds. A request to his publicist went unreturned.

 


Jon,

So great to hear your thoughts on the advancing beer scene in the U.S. today. I love your statement, “Craft beer has created a culture, not a trend. A trend grabs market share and then disappears and gives it back. A culture grabs market share and then keeps it. The craft-beer culture isn’t going anywhere in America.” Awesome.

I want to respond to a few statements contained in your interview.

On: “I think that about 60% of craft beer basically sucks. I’ve been to a lot of the facilities.”

60%? How many breweries have you toured? There are 4,100 in the U.S. today. Please tread lightly when making a statement like this as it takes to task an entire movement and community. I’m here to say I’ve toured more breweries than most, and I disagree. Quality is top of mind for most breweries.

On: “…there’s going to be a wash out in craft beer over the next two years. Half of the craft breweries are going to disappear.”

Really? First off there are 8,000 wineries in the U.S. today. Second, if we had equal population compared to the 1880’s when we also had 4,100 breweries then the U.S. could support more than 30,000 breweries. Granted most of today’s breweries and those of yesteryear are very, very small with 96% of breweries in 2014 making less than 15,000 barrels of beer.

Here’s a stat to chew on. 60% of restaurants close in the first three years of business (Ohio State statistic) whereas only 46% of the 2,482 brewpubs that have opened in the past 35 years have closed. Brewpubs represent an estimated 1,500 of today’s 4,100 breweries. They must be doing something right!

Also from a sales perspective in 2014 beer eclipsed wine and spirits practically combined. So whenever you talk about beer it’s important to remember we are still a beer loving nation first and foremost. That is why it is so important for our on-premise establishments to lead in beer. Beer was $101.1 billion in sales and wine was $37.5 billion. (Small and independent craft brewers were $19.6 billion of the overall beer sales figure).

You are a beverage icon. You have inspired so many. You are a influencer. As such please remember today’s 4,100 breweries (with 99% being small and independent) merit all the belief and support you are willing to muster as these breweries are instrumental in the success of hundreds of thousands of great beer establishments.

Cheers, and anytime you want to have a beer to talk further just let me know.

Julia Herz
Craft Beer Program Director
Brewers Association/CraftBeer.com
@HerzMuses


Hey craft beer lovers, what would you tell Jon Taffer in response to the Cheers Magazine article?

Julia Herz is the Craft Beer Program Director for the Brewers Association, co-author of the free CraftBeer.com Beer & Food Course, as well co-author of Beer Pairing (Voyageur Press). She is a life-long homebrewer, BJCP beer judge and Certified Cicerone®. Despite her extensive experience, she will always consider herself a beer beginner on an unending journey to learn more about craft beer.

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