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  • Peak Craft? This most irreverent of segments is switching its bohemian attire for a smart casual look as the corporate suits attempt to dress down for the occasion. And it’s getting crowded in there. As the explosive adolescent years are now behind and the craft proposition is coming of age, its inevitable convergence with big beer sets fresh aspirations and challenges. From a dearth of quirky brand names to hop shortages and from improvements in distribution networks, retail policies and lending availability to the widening pitfall of ‘’bandwagon microbrewing’’ (that led to the inexorable burst of the previous cyclical microbubble of the 90s), craft is now part of the mainstream as much as the charming outsider.
  • Speers: Partly an accidental offshoot of the craft revolution and partly a last line of defence for Big Beer fighting off the advancing spirits tide, speers will enter the mainstream and carve their own niche as one of the most prominent flag bearers of hybrid experimentation and the blurring of category lines. From barrel ageing to spirits amalgamation with the common denominator of higher abvs, speers will make inroads in both mature and emerging markets fighting in two fronts; Against maturity across the west and against cultural traits favouring spirits consumption in markets such as India.
  • Flavoured, Low and Non-alcoholic losing their stigma: Flirting with the ever elusive female demographic but increasingly adopting a more gender neutral positioning, flavoured, low and non alcoholic alternatives will consolidate and increase their share of throat. Demographic forces, legislative changes, lifestyle fads and leaps forward in terms of production techniques will guarantee the impressive performance of the non/low alcoholic segment in both mature and emerging markets. They will however remain a niche, much like flavoured variants that spearheaded by the radler segment will provide an entry point for the sweeter palates of the millennial generation while mediating the chronic declines of Big Beer icons.
  • Home is the new Micro(brewing): With microbrewers moving confidently centre stage, the opening left in the brewing fringes will be covered by mini scale home production and technological advances streamlining the process . While off-trade, home consumption will also remain in focus, the playing field will not be dominated by gimmicky dispensers but rather by the democratisation and deconstruction of the brewing process and the social sharing of recipes and ideas. Such ventures bridging technology, brewing and the internet of things will account for minute volumes but might well provide inspiration for the next waves of craft launches. Coopetition amongst the small players will remain as paramount as the industry behemoths’ respect towards the heritage of the ones they will inevitably take under their wings. Consistency and quality control on the one hand and clarity in regards to the narrative on the other will be the dual pillars making or breaking the segment. And its inherently disruptive nature should remain in the core of its proposition as radical experimentation, local credentials and independent character will remain the key drivers moving forward.

Also in this series:
Beer in 2015: 4 Key Trends
Alcoholic Drinks 2015 Preview for Wine: 3 Key Trends

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