Rise in craft breweries could mean bitter ending to businesses

Published: May. 28, 2018 at 2:02 PM CDT
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Iowa is in the midst of a brewery boom but some worry that boom could go flat.

Brewers fear the bubble could be getting close to bursting thanks to a fast rise in craft breweries nationwide. The Brewers Association counted 2400 breweries nationwide in 2012. In 2017, that number reached 6200; a 150 percent increase. In Iowa, the number of breweries more than doubled from 34 in to 76 in that same 5 year stretch.

In Eastern Iowa, Doug Alberhasky said he's had to make more room on his shelves at John's Grocery in Iowa City to fit all the Iowa-brewed ales.

"We have more Iowa breweries than we've ever had," said Alberhasky. "The quality of the beer keeps going up and the number of breweries keeps going up."

Alberhasky said he expects the craft brewery bubble will pop in the next few years.

"It's going to be some of the smaller breweries that are going to be affected because they're not able to get the product out and package it," said Alberhasky.

ReUnion Brewery in Coralville said the opposite is true.

"We're still a drop in the bucket compared to some of those big guys," said Reunion Brewer Logan Depover.

Depover said breweries that are expanding will have more trouble keeping it up.

"The big popping of the bubble is going to happen with the big regional giants. Greenflash is closing down," said Depover.

Reunion's brewers think Iowa's beer bubble still has room to grow.

"In some areas, they might have a huge saturation of the market but if you look at Denver there are loads of new breweries still opening so it's definitely localized but I think Iowa definitely has a lot of room to expand," said Reunion Brewer Peter Mullaney.

They are still preparing, though. Instead of focusing on one type of beer, they try a bunch of flavor palettes, keeping the shelves at John's Grocery filled with variety.