On the six breweries that just closed down

buckbean cans

Courtesy of Buckbean Brewing's Facebook page

(Reno, NV) – With the string of posts here on Friday about breweries like Buckbean Brewing closing down, people are asking for a list so here it is:

Airdale Brewing

Buckbean Brewing

Kelley Brothers Brewpub

Bee Creek Brewery

Bavarian Barbarian Brewing

Local Pub and Brewery

More importantly, is this a trend?

As interesting as it is that these six breweries announced that they were closing in a span of just two weeks…not necessarily.

Looking back at The Brewers Association’s list of openings and closings in 2011, six breweries closed during the months of January and February. We are only slightly ahead of last year’s pace if you factor in that February is halfway over. Not to be unexpected considering the increase in breweries that are planning to open this year, a number that may even top 300.

Actually, if we look back at the mid-late 90s, closures aren’t going to be a story for quite a while. IF the cycle of the mid-late 90s repeats itself, we will first see growth in the segment decline, then the number of new breweries will slow down, and finally more breweries will close than will open.

According to the Brewers Association…

From 1995 to 1997, annual craft beer volume growth went from 58% to 2%.

From 1994 to 1999, net craft breweries gained passed 1,100.

From 2000 to 2006, net craft breweries lost was only just over 100.

From 2004 to 2005, annual craft beer volume growth went from 1% to 7%.

…And so began the current cycle of growth…

Considering all the cultural differences of today versus 15 years ago, it is hard to envision the cycle repeating itself nearly as drastically as it did back then and many brewers have said as much.

The big story to watch over the next few years from a perspective of interest may even be less about ‘craft’ itself and more about large companies like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors and their continually evolving role in the better beer segment.

That said, expect to see more posts devoted to closures…and even more posts devoted to openings.

As longtime BeerPulse reader, Patrick Boegel, puts it, think of this as little more than “natural selection.”

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17 thoughts on “On the six breweries that just closed down

  1. I don’t see Airdale’s closing as “natural selection” as they had some great and well-loved beers that a lot of folks were drinking here in San Diego. I am hoping they make a return, or that David Lusk finds a happy home with another SD brewery.

  2. Why aren’t breweries consolidating more? Not just being bought out but on a smaller scale , even with brew pubs and restaurants associated. I hope we see some consolidation of smaller and medium sized breweries that can leverage their market shares and their specialty areas. It should also make their distribution much easier as well. Just a thought.

  3. I’ve seen this “trend” issue noted on a few blogs regarding Buckbean. What is frustrating is how the discussion is not based on any data or facts, but speculation because six places closed. How much debt did the places take on? What was their business plan? Quality of product? Market they were in? How does location factor in? Are the local markets properly developed (outside of San Diego, of course)? How did a collapsed housing market affect disposable income in Nevada? And so on. Context is key. Six is hardly a trend when businesses open and close all the time – and when the success rate in the food industry is typically low.

  4. On point Jeff.Most businesses close do to lack of business acumen or enviromental circumstances

  5. “I’ve seen this “trend” issue noted on a few blogs regarding Buckbean. What is frustrating is how the discussion is not based on any data or facts, but speculation because six places closed.”

    Probably because some of the data points you mention are very difficult if not impossible to produce. And quality is a subjective thing more than a data point or fact. And things like economic data of each location and interviews with locals, etc. isn’t practical or quick to obtain. You could put together a decent summary with a week’s worth of work but what would you have to show for it.

  6. Adam – then it’s not a trend. If six restaurants close in my town – that doesn’t mean it’s a trend. Each restaurant closes for its own reason, and those reasons may differ significantly. Each one of these breweries – for all I know – closed for different reasons.The youth of the beer world shows when assumptions are made so quickly without considering other economic factors.

  7. Jeff, I both agree and disagree with you.

    Adam – then it’s not a trend. If six restaurants close in my town – that doesn’t mean it’s a trend. Each restaurant closes for its own reason, and those reasons may differ significantly. Each one of these breweries – for all I know – closed for different reasons.

    Just pulled one definition for the word “trend.” the general course or prevailing tendency

    Again, looking back at the mid-late 90s, the reasons for breweries closing down may have varied but one thing they had in common was that industry factors put more pressure on them…to the extent that these closures occurred in greater frequency. Growth in the craft segment slowed down and too many breweries had entered the market right before this happened.

    As stated in this post, what is happening NOW probably isn’t a trend and I brought in data from the 90s showing how the cycle works. Would I have liked to have done that Friday? Sure, but remember that I asked these questions at 6pm. I’m not about to dig into spreadsheets and data at that hour, sorry.

    The youth of the beer world shows when assumptions are made so quickly without considering other economic factors.

    Appreciate the age discrimination but this guy is a bit older than I am and really respected and he pondered the same question on Friday. This site is just as much a forum for discussion and learning as it is an authoritative source. I learn just as much running this site as I hope readers do.

    As far as the tens of hours of investigative research you suggested doing, I’ll leave that up to you publishing the research on your blog. I look forward to reading it and learning.

    Cheers!
    Adam

  8. Sorry. I don’t mean YOU are young. I love your site. I mean a young consumer base that immediately assumes a trend has occurred just as much as it gets up in arms when it sees a new brewery called Rare Barrel (See crazy Ratebeer thread).

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