17 Predictions for 2017

  1. The American craft beer industry will continue to grow, but at a slower rate. (Yes, I decided to start with the most obvious one first. The juicier ones are down below.
  2. An increased rate of brewery closures in the U.S.
  3. The alpha hop market will remain extremely tight and on the verge of shortage meaning that prices will not weaken during 2017. (Caveat: If growers foolishly plant any available acreage into alpha hops, alpha prices will crash as a result unless there is a very short crop.)
  4. A net gain on the number of breweries in the U.S., but the rate of brewery closures will increase. 
  5. Crowded shelf space, poor distribution opportunities and cash flow will be cited as reasons for brewery closures and slower than anticipated growth. 
  6. Continued domination of traditional distribution channels by the big brewers.
  7. Development of craft distribution alternatives will become more common. Growth will be very slow. 
  8. American hop growers will continue to expand acreage of proprietary aroma hops
  9. The growth and industry awareness of a “fully contracted” surplus of proprietary aroma varieties. (More on what a fully contracted surplus is and what it means for the industry in an upcoming blog … stay tuned
  10. Continued strategic purchases of craft breweries by big brewers
  11. Sales of contracted hops by brewers on secondary markets will increase.
  12. Maintaining cash flow will become a serious issue in the hop industry. 
  13. The international craft beer industry will begin to grow, following the path blazed by the American craft beer industry. International craft will take on local flavors and practices further developing the art.
  14. The make up of the craft beer industry will continue to evolve. Old commonly accepted principles will not work going forward. (More on what a fully contracted surplus is and what it means for the industry in an upcoming blog … stay tuned.
  15. A rebellion against proprietary hop varieties will begin. Driven by the desire for more open source hops that can be purchased royalty free from any grower, brewers will lead the charge. Growers will also quietly be in favor of the change.
  16. Hop merchants will become less willing to renegotiate hop contracts with brewers who have over contracted.
  17. There will be at least one lawsuit in which a hop merchant takes a brewer to court for lack of performance on a contract.