3 Tech Trends Shaping the Future of the Craft Beer Industry

The craft beer industry is driven by innovation, and given that it is projected to double in size over the next four years, hitting over $210 billion by 2028 according to Fortune Business Insights, there are many opportunities for established players and newcomers to capture the zeitgeist with new offerings.

This is of course not possible unless tech is put to work on the problems and pain points that brewers face – so here’s a look at a few examples of how this is being done, and what it means for producers and their customers alike.

The Rise of Automation in Guaranteeing Brewing Precision

The artisanal approach and emphasis on quality which defines craft brewing is now being moved over to automation to achieve even greater precision and efficiency. The aim is to enhance the intricate brewing process to produce consistent, high-quality beer with every batch.

We’ve even seen the arrival of automated home brewing systems, bundling the kind of tech you’d normally expect to see in larger scale facilities into a package that can sit on a typical kitchen counter.

Then there’s the impact of AI on not only brewing, but also the design process that goes into conjuring up new brews. For instance, St Austell in the UK announced the use of a chatbot to come up with the recipe for a cask beer – and while the final version was heavily tweaked by the human head brewer, it’s an indication of what’s to come.

More significantly from a business perspective, the management of breweries is being digitized, automated and unified with the help of modern platforms that trim the fat from old-school processes and make life easier for all team members in craft beer collectives.

For instance, being able to oversee digital brewery operations with Ollie, including everything from inventory management to production and customer relationships, allows craft brands to compete with the big boys without the typical overheads or complexities.

The Implementation of AI-Driven Marketing Strategies

Understanding customer preferences is paramount for craft breweries that want to thrive – and artificial intelligence in marketing offers craft breweries a golden opportunity to connect with beer enthusiasts more personally and effectively.

Here are a few examples:

  • We mentioned St Austell’s AI-generated beer recipe, but Becks went one further with a full marketing campaign that took advantage of generative tools to come up with a promotional strategy for a product developed almost entirely thanks to machine learning algorithms. It may be something of a novelty in this instance, but the point is that it provides a glimpse of what the future might hold for the market at large – and there’s no reason smaller producers couldn’t leverage the same tools and techniques themselves to get the word out about their brews.
  • Through AI algorithms, brewers can optimize their social media strategies, increasing engagement rates. We’ve seen other major businesses take the same steps in recent months, with the likes of Mastercard taking advantage of the tech both to connect with customers and build trust at a time where skepticism is especially rife. Craft beer businesses will be taking the same steps in their own industry – because no matter the product or brand in question, social media marketing remains a priority.
  • Multimedia marketing content is also being transformed thanks to the AI revolution – and there are various examples of food and drink ads out there that have gone all-in on generative tools to both speed up the production process and more importantly create engaging, unusual visuals which get people talking. This may seem like something with a short shelf life in terms of hype, but the reality is that this is laying the groundwork for marketing strategies going forward.

The Innovations for Sustainability

Sustainability is a crucial operational pillar for craft beer brands, as consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious and selling to them relies on proactive eco-friendly changes being made behind the scenes.

Perhaps the best-known example of this comes courtesy of Scottish craft beer stalwart BrewDog, which has been upfront about its sustainability initiatives for many years – moving to the use of 99% plastic-free packaging, powering its breweries via renewable energy sources rather than fossil fuels, and planting trees to further offset its carbon footprint.

Meanwhile other brewers including Sierra Nevada are doing much the same to their own operations – including offering $1 million in donations to good causes based on beer sales. So people who want to drink without worrying about the environmental or societal impact of doing so can have their cake and eat it too!

Final Thoughts

From automation in brewing to achieve precision, through AI as a marketing tool, to the sustainability that’s being achieved through tech advancements, craft beer and the wider beverage industry is plowing ahead with its digital transformation. And this is clearly setting a good example for other sectors and niches, so it is worth paying attention to no matter where you stand.

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  • About the Curator

    Abelino Silva. Seeker of the truth. Purveyor of facts. Mongrel to the deceitful. All that, and mostly a blogger who enjoys acknowledging others that publish great content. Say hello 🙂

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