The spread of the micro breweries: A lasting trend or a bubble ready to burst?

Across the globe, from Belgium to Australia, Italy, Brazil, Switzerland, Chile and China, new beer firms are burgeoning, selling an array of styles ranging from traditional to highly innovative.

The beer scene is undergoing a sea change, despite the continued clout of the major industrial groups. For a long time, Europe’s beer culture was to a great extent dominated by traditional countries such as Germany, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom and of course Belgium.

But more recently, new players such as the Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland have been making a name for themselves. France, with its long-standing winemaking tradition, is now home to over 1,200 active breweries – at the beginning of the 1980s, there were only thirty or so. Belgium is also playing a pivotal role in this development.

Our country now boasts 257 active breweries, not to mention the firms that commission other companies to produce their beer. Wallonia alone has 110 brewing companies, over a third of which have been trading for less than 5 years!

And the trend continues to gain traction with new brewery projects and beers emerging every month. But can this growth be sustained? Will consumers continue to go with the flow? Is this development normal or a bubble ready to burst?