Prepare yourself for a hyperbole-free reality check, courtesy of Lew Bryson.
Craft Beer’s Looming Crisis, by Lew Bryson (Daily Beast)
Here's the good news/bad news pivot, one that reinforces the point that brewers with a strong community presence and local roots have an advantage or two, but trust me, you'll want to click through and read the whole essay:
... As consumers become increasingly interested in locally-made products, there has been a rise in beer bought in brewery tasting rooms, which is much more profitable for a brand considering it cuts out several middlemen from the transaction.
So much beer is purchased there, in fact, that some people think category sales are significantly under-reported by retail sales-tracking services like IRI or Nielsen, which rely on register data from large store chains. Industry consultant David “Bump” Williams, who once ran IRI’s beer data division, thinks the amount is significant. He estimates that 20 percent or more of total craft beer sales go unreported. (He also points out that for some small breweries, meaning those that produce less than 20,000 barrels a year, direct sales are the only way their brews are available.) It’s a rapidly growing phenomenon, and one that could very well account for a percentage of the disappearing growth rate.
But even if one figures in direct brewery sales, the recent meteoric rise of craft beers can’t go on forever. If sales of the category continued at 2015’s rate of 12.8 percent, the entire U.S. beer market would be, well, completely craft in 17 years. That’s simply not going to happen.