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Have We Reached the Peak of Craft Beer?

The news isn't all bad

If recent growth numbers are any indication, we might soon reach peak craft beer. The industry has expanded at an astounding rate in recent years. According to Time, production rose 42 percent in 2014, while sales dollars grew 22 percent. But so far this year, sales are up just 6 percent.

As Time points out, the craft beer market has been strong up to this point. In 2013 — when people were already starting to worry about a craft beer bubble — the United States was home to some 2,500 breweries. "There are now roughly 4,300 breweries in America, according to the Brewers Association, and in 2015, 21 percent of all money spent on beer in the U.S. went to the craft segment."

According to Time, craft beer's market share has more than doubled in the last five years, going from 5.7 percent in 2011 to 12.2 percent in 2015.

Of course, the market hasn't entirely soured on craft brews (6 percent is still a lot of growth compared to other industries). Increasingly, beer enthusiasts are treating their collection like fine wine — stocking up on limited editions and cellaring some to enjoy years later.

One company that's likely not too disappointed with flat craft beer sales? Budweiser, which has made fun of craft beer drinkers in its ads and belittled the industry on social media. Ironically, though, Anheuser-Busch InBev (Bud's parent company) has been amassing quite the collection of its own smaller, craft brands.

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