Shelf Awareness

Craft brewers push their way into premium space once reserved for the big boys


Over the last 20 years, craft brewers have nibbled away at a market once dominated by mass-market brewers. The little bites (sips?) have been adding up.

Craft beer accounted for 11 percent of beer market share in 2014, with nearly 22 million barrels produced, according to the Brewers Association. This equates to $19.6 billion in sales — a 22 percent growth over 2013.

As the market continues to grow, shelf space once reserved for the big boys is now at a premium. Larger craft mainstays are forcing their way into beer coolers at the expense of some of the Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors brands.

Independent and forward-thinking stores have featured craft beer for years, including Hour Detroit reader favorites like Champane’s Wine Cellars, Holiday Market, The Beer Baron, Discount Drinks, and 8 Degrees Plato.

Now some major chains are following suit. Meijer, Westborn Market, and Kroger have dedicated craft beer sections.

Even Walgreens has been reported to carry a few better-known craft brands and has a build-your-own six-pack program. Now that’s pretty much mainstream.

Bars and restaurants are keeping up. More tap handles are being added and designated for craft beer.

Hopcat’s Detroit location alone has 130 taps. Other places offer scores of draft/bottle selections, including One-Eyed Betty’s, The Beer Grotto, Ale Mary’s, Rochester Tap Room, Slows Bar BQ, and Brown Iron Brewhouse, to name a few.


Big Beer Plays Defense

Think the big boys aren’t noticing? Television commercials from Budweiser poke fun at craft beer drinkers’ “pretentious” attitude, or place a hidden camera in a bar filled with “hipsters” who are secretly served Budweiser to their ultimate enjoyment. 

It’s funny, because at the same time Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors are buying out or purchasing minority interests in craft breweries. 

MillerCoors was even sued over the Blue Moon brand. The lawsuit alleges their advertising campaign’s slogan “artfully crafted” coupled with absolutely no mention of the parent company is intentionally deceptive and it insinuates that the beer was brewed by a smaller, independent company. None of the eight breweries in the MillerCoors family brews less than 6 million barrels of beer annually.

The lawsuit also claims that Blue Moon is actually brewed in several locations across the country instead of one independent brewery and that MillerCoors is charging up to 50 percent more for Blue Moon than it does for other products brewed at the same facility.


Glass Overflowing?

The looming question is “how much can the market handle?”

With the total number of breweries nearing 3,500, the United States is seeing more beer selections than any time in history. There’s concern the bubble will eventually burst.

Michigan residents have access to more than 500 brands, which includes Michigan breweries, regional craft brands, national craft brands, big brands, and global imports.

It takes a lot of shelf space. Retailers have to be selective with what they carry, and be knowledgeable about the seasonal and special release schedules of the breweries.

For now, though, Michigan’s thirst for craft beer is strong and shows no sign of slowing. 

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Here's Why Petoskey’s Bay View Resort Is Under a Magnifying Glass

The history, facts, and recent allegations against the National Landmark

Expand Your Personal Library with These 6 Titles

New and notable reads to satisfy your inner bookworm

A Zen Monk on Her Vegetarian Diet

Myungju Hillary talks spirituality, a plant-based diet, and more

These Businesses Are Planting Purpose in Metro Detroit — Through Food

Hour Detroit’s food issue explores sustainable restaurants, organizations, and more

3 Eateries that Focus on People, Profit, and the Planet

These triple bottom line businesses are part of Detroit’s FoodLab organization
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Review: Testa Barra Wows with Contemporary Dishes
    The Macomb Township restaurant serves Italian fare that is on par with the surging Detroit food...
  2. Michigan-Made, Mother Nature-Approved Tools for Your Kitchen
    Ditch disposables and opt for reusable products
  3. Exploring Metro Detroit’s Tiki Trend
    Mutiny Bar and Lost River serve up island vacations with every drink
  4. A Deeper Look into the Racial and Ethnic Tensions Dividing Metro Detroit
    From the city to the suburbs, existing segregation could be hindering the region’s progress
  5. A Look at the Inexplicable Exclusion of Detroit Tigers’ Lou Whitaker from the Baseball Hall of Fame
    Writer Michael Betzhold investigates the Major League slip-up
  6. 3 Eateries that Focus on People, Profit, and the Planet
    These triple bottom line businesses are part of Detroit’s FoodLab organization
  7. Q&A: Nancy Barr, Curator of Photography at the Detroit Institute of Arts
    Plus, information about the DIA’s upcoming exhibit, Lost & Found
  8. This Vegan Catering Company Celebrates the ‘Natural Beauty of Food’
    Plus, tips on how to create your own photo-worthy grazing board
  9. Meet the Makers: Salt Textile Studios
    This textile maker wants her creations to be unique to ‘here’
  10. Your Guide to Environmentally Friendly Organizations in Metro Detroit
    These 10 local businesses are paving the way for a healthier and happier planet