Saturday, January 25, 2020

Canadian craft breweries - too much, too fast

If you're having trouble keeping track of all the new microbreweries in your city, you're not alone. There was a time when a new craft brewery was a big event; nowadays, it's hard to even try out the new ones before they disappear. There are four or five craft breweries within a few kilometres of our house that have sprung up in the last couple of years alone, and we still haven't got around to visiting them. Occasionally, we will try out new names while in a bar or restsurant, but it's easy to lose track of who's who and who's good, what with all those wacky names and hyperbolic descriptions.
So, it probably doesn't come as too much of a surprise to read in the Globe and Mail that, over the last decade, the number of breweries in Canada has burgeoned from a little over 200 to nearly 1,000, the majority of that increase occurring between 2013 and 2017.
Neither does it surprise me greatly that funding for new breweries, which at one time was an easy sell, is much harder to come by these days, as investors see a market which is starting to look over-saturated. We are starting to see breweries closing down or being put up for sale (often with the Labatts and Molsons of the world snapping up some of their smaller competitors). According to Statistics Canada, only about 50% of Canadian breweries were actually profitable in 2017, with most of the others being labours of love. It can take 5 to 7 years for a craft brewery to generate cash flow, and many just don't make it that far.
It almost makes me want to go out right now and visit a couple of my local watering holes. But then I look out and see it is raining, and put it off for another day.

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