Brewbound Podcast S2 E5: Brewers Association CEO Bob Pease on the State of the Industry

Responding to the marketplace is on Bob Pease’s mind. Nearly a year after the Brewers Association’s board of directors voted to change the craft brewer definition to be more inclusive of products beyond beer, Pease, the trade group’s president and CEO, views the change as “fairly insightful.”

Since that change, several BA-defined small and independent craft breweries have expanded their portfolios to include offerings beyond beer, including hard seltzer, canned cocktails, kombucha, tea and other products.

“I don’t think our changing the definition is the reason a small and independent brewery is making a hard seltzer,” Pease told Brewbound editor Justin Kendall during an interview before this year’s Great American Beer Festival. “Personally, I think that’s what small and independent craft brewers are doing to stay competitive, to try to respond to the marketplace, where there is a segment of the population who wants to drink products that are a beer alternatives.”

Nevertheless, Pease said the trade group is pleased if the change has helped some craft brewers find success. In fact, Pease pointed to reports from some craft beer companies that hard seltzer now accounts for anywhere from 10% to 20% of their total volume.

In Episode 5 of the Brewbound Podcast’s second season, Pease gives a snapshot of the craft brewing industry in 2019, a year in which 1,000 new craft breweries will open, while a record number of beer companies will close their doors. He also ponders what it means for craft brewers to pivot into becoming beverage companies, opening up GABF to offerings other than beer and more.

In addition to the interview with Pease, Kendall speaks with Beer Paws founder Crystal K. Wiebe about how the ebbs and flows of the craft brewing industry affects a small business that relies on the industry.

The craft brewing industry generated $79.1 billion in economic impact in 2018. One of the small beer-adjacent businesses contributing to that figure is Beer Paws, a Kansas City area company that makes dog treats from spent grain.

Listen to Episode 5 above, as well as on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, and Soundcloud. New episodes of the Brewbound Podcast are published Thursdays.

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