2014 Craft Beer Year in Review

Here is a look back at four big themes and stories of the last year for craft beer.

Heather Vandenengel Dec 24, 2014 - 4 min read

2014 Craft Beer Year in Review Primary Image

By the numbers, 2014 was yet another big year for craft beer: the Great American Beer Festival sold out in thirty-two minutes in July, craft beer is now sold at 35,000 feet aboard Delta airlines as they just tapped seven new beers in early December, and the U.S. brewery count topped 3,000 at the end of June. It will be a few more months before the Brewers Association announces the 2014 growth numbers, so here is a look back at four big themes and stories of the last year for craft beer.

Big Name and Large-Scale Collaboration

Collaboration has long been a credo of craft brewing, as supposed competitors join forces to brew a beer. But in recent years, collaboration has gained traction as a way to tap into new markets and create a buzz, with big name collabs such as Ommegang and HBO’s Game of Thrones line of beers or Deschutes partnering with celebrity chef José Andrés on a Spanish-inspired saison. The biggest collaboration of the year, however, has to go to Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp (pictured at top), which involved a seven-city beer festival tour with more than 700 breweries pouring and a variety pack with twelve collaboration beers from breweries across the country.

Beer Goes to School

As waiting lists for established brewing programs grow longer, universities are partnering with breweries and offering new fermentation science and brewing degrees. At the start of the year, the University of Oklahoma’s Janux, an interactive online learning community, kicked off a free online chemistry of beer course, drawing more than 800 registered participants. The Brooklyn Brewery joined with the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) to build a small brewery at the college’s Hyde Park, New York, campus. Odell donated $100,000 to the Fermentation Science and Technology program at Colorado State University, and Central Michigan University launched a certificate program in fermentation science​.

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Big Buys Up Small

The biggest—and buzziest—stories of the year were of big breweries and international brewing conglomerates buying or investing in craft breweries. In February, Anheuser-Busch InBev bought Blue Point Brewing, a Long Island brewery that produced 60,000 barrels of beer in 2013, and in November they scooped up 10 Barrel Brewing Co., an Oregon-based brewery that expects to produce 40,000 barrels this year. And earlier this month, Michigan’s Founders Brewing Co. announced that a Spanish brewery group, Mahou San Miguel, had purchased a 30 percent stake in the brewery.

Craft Beer Brewed and Sold Abroad

Within a few days of each other in mid-July, Stone Brewing made public that it was opening a brewery and destination restaurant in Berlin and Green Flash announced that it would be brewing Green Flash IPA in Belgium, in a new partnership with Brasserie St.-Feuillien. They’ll be joining Brooklyn Brewery, which is building an 8,000-barrel brewery in Stockholm, Sweden, in partnership with D. Carnegie & Co. and Carlsberg Sweden. Founders will likely be landing abroad too, as the brewery said the partnership with Spain’s Mahou San Miguel will let them tap into their international distribution network.

Photo courtesy of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.