Brewery boom: Has craft beer come to a head?

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Last call!

The nation's oldest craft brewer, the 127-year-old Anchor Brewing Company, is facing impending closure — unless a last-minute effort from its workers can pull together enough money to run the brewery as a co-op before the end of July.

Founded in 1896, amidst the frenzy of the California Gold Rush, the company has fallen on tough times before. It survived the catastrophic 1906 San Francisco earthquake and even navigated the dark era of prohibition — during which no official records of the company's activities were kept — before resuming operations in 1933. Anchor also overcame financial difficulties that forced its closure in 1959. The company blames its latest woes on a bitter combination of inflation, competition and a hangover from the pandemic — which the company has never fully recovered from.

Just one more

The competition part of the puzzle is hard to overstate. There are now over 9,700 breweries in the US as of 2022, more than triple the number from a decade ago. Beer aficionados wonder if there's still room for yet another take on the ubiquitous IPA. The Brewers Association, a trade group based in Colorado, forecasts that 2023 will witness the fewest brewery openings in over a decade. The once overflowing industry may have finally reached its tipping point.

To make matters more complicated, consumer preferences have evolved. Non-alcoholic beverages, such as kombucha, have been on the rise and spirits have gained in popularity. In light of these changes, the Anchor Brewing Company's fight for survival is not just a battle against the pandemic, but a struggle to adapt to shifting tastes and preferences.

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