The Economy of Beer

Posted on: December 16th 2008


I can’t tell you how many people have suggested to me lately that beer is “recession proof”, half tongue-in-cheek, but half seriously.  They refer, of course, to the Depression-era analogy of people drowning their sorrows in alcohol as a way to escape the desperate situation they are in.  I try to explain to them that situation does not exist, certainly not with beer.  Even more so with craft beer.  However, the craft beer segment of the industry does seem to be faring better than the rest (albeit not as well as last year, before the now official start of this current travail).  Why is that?

It has also been suggested that, in a recession, the products that do the best are alcohol and cosmetics.  That seems to make more sense to my cynical mind because people always want to feel good about themselves.  People want to look better and continue to use cosmetics as a vehicle to that end.  They like to believe they can still enjoy some of the simple pleasures of a better life, if not a more lucrative one.  The latter describes craft beer.  It is extremely affordable.  It is something beermakers put a great deal of passion, love, knowledge and skill into.  It is also something, with today’s available variety, that can be individualized to each person’s tastes.   That certainly is still experienced in our pubs where people congregate to enjoy each other’s company (and that of those they do not yet know) and indulge in a simple, affordable luxury.  And it tastes good!

People could easily spend their hard earned dollars on a less expensive, commodity-like beer as a reflection of the economic times, but it seems they are frequently choosing differently.  I would say our humanity is catching up with our economy (maybe the economy can return the favor).  We still believe in living life in full color, in spite of circumstances that (let’s face it) impact all of us and we have little control over.

I am not a big one for New Year’s resolutions, but as we welcome this New Year, I for one resolve to not let the bastards get me down.  This recession may last for a little while, but it will not last forever.  I will be around longer than it will, with my humanity intact, and a wonderful beer in hand.

Cheers to a wonderful and prosperous 2009!
Gary Fish

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