A New Trend in Craft Brewing? Lost Abbey Announces Bold Move to ‘Grow Down’
The Lost Abbey, considered to be one of the best American producers of barrel-aged Belgian-style sour ales is making an unusual pivot in a rapidly changing and challenging beer industry: they are ‘growing down.’
The announcement from the San Diego county brewery, which is part of the Port Brewing and Pizza Port collection, came in a detailed story from San Diego Beer News in which Tomme Arthur, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Owner of Lost Abby said the company would be putting its 30-barrel brewhouse and fermentation tanks up for sale so that they can switch over to a smaller brewing setup with single- and double-batch flexibility as well as a cellar fit for their current and projected output.
The evolution from big to smaller is a noble one. In good times and in hard times, most companies try to cut costs and grow efficiencies by selling more. Growth has traditionally been the secret sauce to success. But in an industry that has never quite followed all of the traditional rules of business, maybe craft brewers will find that growing down is more fun – and more profitable, than growing up.
“Craft beer used to compete against Wine and Spirits. Today there are numerous other options and even some legal drinking aged humans who have adopted a sober curious model of living. A crazy world of more breweries, alternative beverages and RTD things not malt based are all vying for consumer attention,” Tomme said in a Facebook post.
“As I type this, 2022 feels like the year of the Ostrich with many of us continually putting our heads in the sand each and every day as another hit came our way. 60% Malt increase= Check. 20% CO2 increase (if you could even get it) = Check. Rolling Cardboard and paper increases= Check,” Tomme said describing the challenging times hitting craft brewers right now. But Tomme and his team are not throwing in the towel. Just the opposite. “…in reality we’re trying to be as small as we can possibly be because being big is tougher than nails right now. Since opening our doors in 2006 we have always chased growth as the path to a bigger brighter future. Growth is expensive,” he said.
Maybe a new trend in craft brewing is being born.