Maine’s craft beer makers have locked down the state’s foam market, but must react quickly to maintain their position, beverage experts warn at an industry conference in Portland on Thursday. bottom.
“You own your backyard,” consultant Bump Williams said at the New England Craft Brew Summit at the Holiday Inn by the Bay.
Maine brewers are adapting rapidly to changing consumer tastes, but that change will only accelerate and intensify, Williams says. At the same time, he predicted, large multinational brewers will step up efforts to maintain their share of an increasingly fragmented market.
According to Williams, some of the most profitable tools Maine breweries have are brew pubs and tasting rooms. The state beer maker has done a great job of getting people to stop by and taste the latest beer, he said.
“It’s not seen anywhere else,” he said.
Still, he warns Brewers have to strike a delicate balance that makes it harder to come by.
“Exclusivity is key,” he said. “Once it becomes easy to find it, people stop wanting it.”
Williams also credited brewers for introducing hard seltzer, which has ridden a wave of national popularity and is becoming an important product for state brewers.
Agility like this has helped Maine brewers weather the pandemic relatively unscathed. Breweries and brewpubs have remained open since the pandemic hit in March 2020, and many have weathered the economic devastation of the early months.
Brewery Summit officials said 27 new brew pubs have opened in Maine since 2020, while only 10 have closed. We hope to visit and continue to shock the industry this year and bring tourists to breweries across the state.
There were a total of 143 craft breweries operating in Maine in 2021, according to data from the Brewers Association, a national trade group. The state ranks him second in breweries per capita, and Maine’s beer production (364,000 total barrels in 2021) ranks third in his per capita.
Williams said the outlook for beer making isn’t entirely rosy. It will open the door for foreign brands to use its excess capacity, he said.
Williams also said further shakeout in the industry is likely as brewers compete for store shelf space. He said there is a tendency to move towards serve beer. Breweries that are ready to adapt to larger cans will be better positioned to make sales and save shelf space, especially at convenience stores, he said.
According to Williams, one way to weather the wave of change is for breweries to partner with distilleries, wineries and even soft drink companies. This trend is just beginning, he said. Partnerships give companies a stronger position and stability.
“There’s a reason these weird partnerships are evolving,” he said.
The message struck a chord with Summit attendee Pete Harris, who works at Liquid Riot, a brewery, distillery and pub on Commercial Street in Portland.
He said brewers should be a little more sensitive to changing public tastes when planning their strategy. For example, according to Williams, brewers took longer to develop “hazy” beers, the result of subjecting IPAs to a secondary fermentation process to produce “cloudy” beers with stronger flavors and aromas. rice field.
“Brewers don’t like them, but people will wait in line,” he said.
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