Updated: Nov 5, 2018
Smaller, hyperlocal breweries offering a variety of fresh beers to their neighbors and visitors is a beer-industry trend that is actually growing. Attendees at one of the final roundtables during NanoCon 2018—a conference for small-scale craft brewers—were buoyed by this statistic: The U.S. craft-beer market grew by 5% in 2017, totaling $26 billion, and is expected to perform similarly in 2018.
Speaker Brad Ring—publisher of Brew Your Own magazine, which created this conference expressly for those operating or planning to open a brewery with a 5-barrel or smaller system—said that the nano segment of the market remains healthy.
Panelist Kevin Weaver, president of equipment maker Brewmation (Fishkill, NY), said, “Freshness is important. ‘Hyperlocal’ is important. New breweries will continue to open but smaller breweries will continue to trend upward.” Mickey Fanney, brewery consultant for ABS Commercial (Raleigh, NC) agreed, adding “The nanobrewing trend will continue. People are looking for a place in their community to make ‘their local.’”
John Blichmann, self-proclaimed “Supreme Commander” of brewery-equipment maker Blichmann Engineering (Lafayette, IN), said he believes that vendors and manufacturers will continue to recognize the strength of the nanobrewing segment and will further market existing products and launch new offerings that are appropriate to nano-sized and small local brewers.
Trends for 2019 and beyond in this nano segment will include different ingredients, asserted Paul Schroeder, sales development coordinator and brewery consultant for BSG Craft Brewing (Shakopee, MN). Nanobrewers have the ability to get more creative and can take more risks with their ingredients than the bigger players, he said. “Using ‘different from the usual’ ingredients allows the nano to tell a story with the beer. What’s the story behind this heritage malt? Why use this other nontraditional ingredient?’”
Weaver sees the nano segment using automation much like their larger compatriots. “Automation for the nanos will be key. Network access—machinery and controls tied in by networking—will enable owners to control some processes remotely.” Such access, he said, could be useful for smaller brewers who may be running the whole show independently.
What advice do these industry players have for current and would-be nanobrewers? Fanney encouraged the listeners to “Go out before you open. Talk to all kinds of people. Ask what to expect in your area, your town, your city. Find out what is popular around you. Find your niche. And then plan for growth.”
Schroeder’s advice was similar: “Focus on your street, your place, your neighborhood. Create the beer experience that is specific to your spot.”