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Alberta’s craft beer supply chain: Why consumers now call the shots (Part 1)

Reference: FCC

Welcome to the first of a 4-part series about the economics of Alberta’s craft beer supply chain. Pre-pandemic, it was one of Canada’s fastest-growing beer sectors - a market driven by consumer demand.

The question is whether that demand is enough to support growth in good times and survival during a global pandemic.

This post explores the history that has catapulted the consumer into the driver’s seat of the movement energizing global beer markets.

Post 1 describes the shift in the supply chain that put consumers in the driver’s seat of craft beer.

Post 2 explains how a demand-driven supply chain was uniquely situated to withstand some of the worst effects of COVID.
In Post 3, we explore the role of the maltster as the indispensable conduit between craft brewer and barley producer.
Post 4 illustrates how much influence COVID had — and didn’t have — at the farm of a barley producer with close ties to an Alberta maltster.

When Jessica Shumlich and Dan Anderson married in 2012 near Vulcan, Alberta, they offered their guests a selection of craft beers from Wild Rose Brewery. For the young couple, it was a way to make a special day better while supporting a favourite business in the province’s emerging microbrewery sector.

“We love beer,” Jessica said. “And we wanted to source as locally as we could. Our local small craft brewery was Wild Rose, and we were so excited that we could buy the kegs from the owners.”

In 2012, the young couple had the choice of 14 craft brewers in Alberta. If they’d married eight years later, they would have had 128 brewers to choose from.

At the time, Alberta’s craft beer scene was catching up. Canada’s 10 micro/ craft breweries in the 1980s had grown to 242 breweries in 2012. Alberta’s craft beer expansion had lagged other provinces until the 2013 repeal of regulations restricting craft production. But it’s clear now that whatever Alberta craft lacked in history, it has made up for in energy, soul and selection... Read More