You look at the Portland beer market and you wonder. There's plenty of crap beer being consumed out there. You know it. PBR is popular, and not just with hipsters. I see lots of people drinking Miller High Life, Hamm's, Rainier, Bud Light and Coors Light.
And then you have craft beer. And all those breweries. Beervana, as it were.
According to the Oregon Brewers Guild, there were 51 breweries operating in Portland at the end of 2012. Add another 17 for a total of 68 in the greater metro area. I'm quite sure we've wedged a few more into the mix since the end of the year, but never mind. These are serious numbers as is.
But the brewery numbers are a bit deceptive. Our path to 51 breweries has not been at all gradual. More than 40 percent of the breweries we have (22 of 51) have launched since 2009. In that year, we started with just 29. After adding only two in 2009, growth went berserk: Seven in 2010; five in 2011; eight in 2012. I hesitate to guess where the number will be at the end of 2013.
The question is this: What is so special about the years since 2009? Things were relatively stable prior to that time. Since then, we've been in the midst of a severe economic downturn that has caused all kinds of displacement here and everywhere. Yet brewery growth has gone crazy. How can we possibly explain it? I'm tossing that out there. Chime in with your thoughts.