If you contemplated the contents of your pint glass deeply enough this year, you likely have some idea of where the United States beer industry is headed in 2017.
At the end of 2016, I was asked by the hosts of a couple of beer podcasts for my thoughts on what lies ahead for U.S. beer brewers, distributors and drinkers. This column began answering that question as early as March, when it pointed out that the number of craft beer brands and products on taps and on store shelves had tripled in seven years. By November, the number of brewers in the U.S. topped 5,000 and was continuing to grow, even if sales of the beers they were producing saw growth slip into single-digit percentages for the first time in years.
In a beer market that’s quickly saturating, just about everyone is looking for dry ground. Anheuser-Busch InBev BUD, +0.21% with the U.S. government watching closely after its acquisition of SABMiller, seems to have made the last of its craft beer acquisitions (in Texas, no less), and is looking to expand its current stable of U.S. craft brands, its stateside marketing efforts and its reach in its craft brands’ home markets.
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