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Is Craft Brewing Dying a Slow Death?

The craft beer movement has been on the rise for over a decade but has it reached its pinnacle and will it soon be gone? The name “craft beer” denotes skill and artistry because beer making is now also considered an art form. Traditionally, beer has always had the same base ingredients. Nowadays, additions that brewers throw in are limitless—ranging from coffee grounds to chilies to anything in between. This gives their beer its signature taste. Packaging certainly isn’t a defining feature since both small breweries and big brand beers come packaged in all sorts of containers like bottles, casks, kegs, and cans.

Craft beer enthusiasts flock to the thousands of local breweries weekly. However, the large beer brands, whose historical growth is in significant decline, are now not only attacking the industry but potentially causing its permanent demise.

What Exactly is Craft Beer?

breweries bought by bigger brands

breweries bought by bigger brands infographic

There used to be a time when the term “craft beer” was reserved for independent breweries that developed a reputation for creating quality local beer. Unfortunately, the name “craft beer” is becoming stale and breweries must continuously evolve their product if they want to stay relevant. Soon, the term “craft beer” may lose its overall meaning in the same way that the terms ”premium” or “handcrafted beer” hold no meaning whatsoever. According to Karl Strauss Brewing Company founder Chris Cramer, “Back when we started, non-one had ever heard of craft beer, and we had to make decisions that enabled us to grow and survive in that environment.”

Fast forward to 2018, in the alcohol industry—and the food sector in general—the words “craft brewing” are growing into simply marketing terms that companies use. The industry is on the brink of becoming corporate and established. Cramer reflects further, “If you really want to develop a company that is going to going to be relevant over the long term, what you have to do is create a culture that is all about embracing change.”

That is what the large beer producers are trying to convince their wide array of consumers who grew up drinking Bud Light, Coors, Michelob, and Heinekin. One interesting aspect about this change is that craft beer consumers expect certain uniqueness to craft beer when it comes to taste. This is partly due to the craft brewer’s innovative approach to beer making.

Global Breweries are Buying In and Buying Up Craft

Aside from that, another trend that puts the “craft beer” status in jeopardy is that bigger breweries are beginning to buy off the smaller artisanal brands to foster sales and brand growth. In fact, there are dozens of well-loved craft breweries that have been recently purchased by global breweries.  For example, Ballast Point IPA sold to Constellation Brands while Devil’s Backbone was bought by Anheuser-Busch.

In total, during the last few years, 10 independent craft brewers have been purchased by Anheuser-Busch InBev. The purchases have also included well-known craft brands like Goose Island and Wicked Weed based in North Carolina. This means that the craft beers we find in the grocery stores have already been gobbled up by these larger companies.

Consumers are generally clueless on what is happening (unless they are craft beer purists) and even if they did know, they wouldn’t care too much as long as their beer of choice tastes the same. On the other hand, lobbyists and craft beer brewers feel that they are being attacked by these big beer breweries.

Take Back Craft

Bob Pease is the President and CEO of the Brewers Association, a trade group formed by independent craft brewers. According to him, this incursion in the craft beer industry began around seven years ago when the big brands noticed that the market share of craft breweries was growing significantly. These large corporations tried but failed to imitate the success of craft breweries.  This led to the bold move of buying the breweries instead, similar to other industries that have been consolidated.

The large companies pressured the distributors and retailers to drop the independently owned brand which forced the craft breweries to either sell their brands or face bankruptcy.

Fans of craft beer cry out on various social media whenever a beloved craft brewery is bought out by big companies. This shows just how much support and fans these craft breweries have.

One of the initiatives to take back craft beers is the TakeBackCraft.com website which launched a campaign called #TakeCraftBack. This is a crowdsourcing campaign accepting pledges to support buying Anheuser-Busch and separating it from the beverage conglomerate. Anheuser Busch InBev was formed in 2008 from the merger of three giant beverage companies, namely Anheuser-Busch, based in the United States, Interbrew of Belgium, and AmBev of Brazil. The #TakeCraftBack campaign aims to raise $213 billion to buy back Anheuser-Busch and stop them from buying any additional independent craft brewer.

Magic Leap Gets New $461 Million Funding from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Magic Leap Augmented Reality Glasses is one of the biggest companies that you probably haven’t heard of and for good reason. It has been very secretive about its technologies and product. However, even though normal consumers have little idea just what this company is all about, they are pretty popular with big investors. The company was recently given a valuation of $8 Billion.

Big Investments from Big Companies

Magic Leap recently raised another $461 million in Series D funding. This was led by The Public Investment Fund by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign investment. The country invested $400 million while new investors accounted for the remaining amount according to the company. All in all, the company has acquired a total of $963 million with an earlier confirmed $502 million investment from Temasek last October. Since the company’s inception, it has been able to acquire more than $2 billion in investment and the amount doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

This isn’t anything new for the company as its initial investors are also some of the biggest names in the tech industry including Google and Alibaba, as well as J.P. Morgan Investment Management. With all of the money and backing the company has received, people are wondering why these big names are willing to invest in a company that hasn’t proven anything just yet.

Breakthrough of the Future?

CEO Rony Abovitz created quite a stir when he founded Magic Leap in 2014. The company claimed to be working on highly secretive technology relating to augmented reality.

Augmented reality was nothing more than a proof of concept, and companies were racing against one another to develop a robust, functional, and practical eyewear with augmented reality features. The company was very secretive with what it was working on and even the entire company itself is shrouded in mystery.

Later reports and announcements then confirmed that the company is working on augmented reality eyewear that superimposes 3D images on real-life objects and can be manipulated by the user. It is an even more ambitious project compared to the then Google Glass and Microsoft Holo Lens.

Years later, the company had yet to make an actual product or even give out hints and sneak peeks on its progress, but investors kept on coming to fund the company’s ambitious project. Recently at the Games Developer Conference 2018, the company finally revealed a prototype of their hardware—the Magic Leap One. It also released a Software Developer Kit (SDK) to persuade developers to create games and applications for its new platform.

The company has announced plans to release the Magic Leap One “Creator Edition” to the public in 2018 but no definite date has been given. Whether or not the company can prove that they are worth all the money will be answered in the near future. However, if they do manage to pull off their ambitious goals, how we interface with technology will completely change for the better.

The Power of Augmented Reality

AR is more powerful than 3D, for the simple reason that 3D overlays can be used in AR applications. Some AR applications include tools for shopping, medicine, exploration and navigation, and military uses. An AR headset can be used in the same manner that military airplanes use heads-up displays (HUD), which display data and graphics onto the cockpit windows.

With an AR visitor/navigation app, a tourist can walk the streets and see normally, while information about the shops can be seen through AR glasses. These pieces of information can include the name of the street and shop, WiFi, type of shop, special sales for the day, etc. Or, while shopping online for furniture, the potential buyer can use an AR app and superimpose the furniture onto his living room, kitchen, or any other room in the house or office.

The first few AR games have already appeared and it is expected that the first few mainstream AR apps outside of games will start popping up by 2020 or even earlier.

Magic Leap is Making Money with Augmented Reality Technology Cartoon

a cartoon of Magic Leap's protoype of augmented reality glasses being surrounded by a group of racially diverse people throwing money at it
Augmented Reality is indeed more powerful than 3D. How is Magic Leap, with its valuation of $8 billion and AR prototype, making waves & money with its tech?

Red Wine and its Many Health Benefits to Improve Heart Surgery Cartoon

a cartoon of a surgeon and nurse who will do the heart operation, unconscious patient laying in bed and a waiter carrying a bottle of red wine in a silver platter
Indeed, red wine and resveratrol have shown themselves useful in the operating room! This is one of red wine’s growing list of heart health advantages.