2015 BC Craft Beer Trends – The changing environment of craft beer



The Changing State of Craft Beer – Comparing 2013 – 2015 Annual Survey Data

The first BC Craft Beer Survey was conducted back in November of 2013. In the first year we asked a number of questions about the consumer preferences around beer in British Columbia. In the first year we had 532 responses. In November of 2014 and 2015 we asked many of the same questions in the annual survey. 2014 had 1505 respondents and 2015 had 1390.  Now three years in we are starting to see some trends emerge from the data.

The descriptions may seem technical at times but this is done to remain as statistically relevant as possible. The graphs are designed to be intuitive and informative but if you have any questions about the data please do not hesitate to ask questions in the comment section below.

The age of respondents has changed slightly over time. Here we see a stacked column graph to help show cumulative proportional change. Since 2013 we have seen a slight increase in the average age of respondents.
The location of respondents has not changed drastically over time with the primary region being Vancouver, Coast & Mountains. We have seen a consecutive increase in the Thompson Okanagan region from 5.6% up to 9.2% over three years. This is the only trend that is consistent and significant three years running.
Survey Respondents are visiting a large quantity of craft breweries. So much so in fact that the scale used in our survey is not as relevant as it seemed a few years ago. In 2015, 37.6% of all respondents had visited 10 or more breweries in the previous 12 months. This is up from 11.5% in 2013. Also significant, in 2013 14.4% had not been to a brewery, in 2015 that number had decreased to 4.7%.
Measured very similarly to number of breweries visited we asked survey participants to tell us how many craft beer events they had attended in the past 12 months. Here the number of people that had attended at least one event rose from 59.4% in 2013 up to 70.3% in 2015. 07-Attendance
Looking at the brewery and event attendance differently we can see more of a trend. Brewery visits increased from a mean response of 3.95 in 2013 up to 6.38 in 2015. Craft beer events saw a small increase in mean response from 3.11 to 3.41 in the same duration.*(see footer for calculation disclaimer)

Digging slightly deeper into the numbers, responses for number of breweries visited showed a median value of 3 and a standard deviation of 3.1 in 2013. These numbers rose to 6 and 3.41 in 2015.

The data around events showed the median of 1 increase to 2 between 2013 and 2015 while the standard deviation decreased from 2.9 to 2.66.05-Flavour

Quality of flavour has seen a slight increase over time but the numbers have always been very good. Here the number of great responses has risen from 69.9% to 74.8%.

Similar to the ratings of flavour, the ratings for craft beer selection are also very positive. The percentage of great ratings rose from 52.0% up to 63.9% between 2013 and 2015.
The primary place of consumption for craft beer remains to be at home. The percentage of responses has remained between 65.3% and 70.1% in each of the three years reported. The most significant change represented here is the increase in consumption at the brewery. Over the three years reported the brewery rose as the primary place of consumption from 2.6% up to 9.3%.

Over the past three years we have seen a decrease in private liquor store sales as the primary point of purchase. This decrease appears to have shifted to purchases made direct from the brewery. Direct brewery sales increased from 16.3% in 2013 to 27.4% in 2015. It is worth noting as well that government liquor store sales do not appear to have changed significantly. It is also worth noting that this is a proportion of respondents, not overall sales. A decrease in market share within a growing segment does not necessary mean decreased sales.

Looking at brewery purchases and consumption differently we can see that the engagement between consumers and breweries has seen a steady increase over the past three years. Both purchases and consumption at the brewery as a primary location have risen steadily between 2013 and 2015. This makes sense given the increased number of breweries and increased interest in local BC craft beer.11-PurchaseDecision
The Style of beer remains the most important aspect of purchase decisions for craft beer. Overall opinions do not appear to have changed significantly over the past three years. The only decision factor that has risen three years consecutively is reviews. Reviews have risen from a mean rating of 2.19 in 2013 to 2.76 in 2015. We also added packaging format this year for the first time. This was rated the lowest of all options at a mean value of 2.43.
Packaging preferences appear to have shifted from standard 330-355ml bottles. While this represented 30.0% of respondent preferences in 2013 it has fallen to 21.9%. Bomber bottles have remained the preferred packaging but we have seen increases in the preference of tall cans, Boston Rounds and Growlers. 13-ConsumptionFrequency
The consumption rates of BC craft beer drinkers appears to be slowing slightly. We have seen a steady decrease in the number of people that consume 6-7 days per week and a similar increase in those that consume 1-2 days per week. The largest quantity of respondents remains those in the 3-5 days per week classification. We suspect that this slowing of consumption is a sign of those entering the marketplace. Those that have engaged in craft beer for less time are likely to consume at a less frequent rate.

What do you think. Where do you see craft beer going in British Columbia. Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

 *In mean value calculations where 10+ was a selection option, a value of 10 was used. With such an assumption the mean value reported will be lower than actual as it under-represents participants with a value of greater than 10. In subsequent years of surveying we will look to modify the question to allow for answers of 11 and above. 

Read part 1: The State of BC Craft Beer in 2015 here

About Author

Dustan Sept

Dustan Sept is the founder of Beer Me BC. His passion for craft beer drove the creation of beermebc.com in 2012. To learn more about the beermebc.com editorial team visit beermebc.com/the-beer-me-bc-team/.


  1. Patrick M.
    Patrick M. 10 December, 2015, 15:03

    Really interesting data! And really useful stuff here to start to unwind some of the implications and results.

    I’d take a minor quibble with some of the conclusions drawn, particularly at the end:

    “consumption rates of BC craft beer drinkers appears to be slowing slightl”

    The more likely answer is that as the number of respondents increases, you’ve reached out to a broader swathe of the craft beer drinking community (or perhaps a representation of more people entering the community as a whole)

    What would make this data a lot better is actually slightly less anonymity.

    If in future, as people filled it out they had an account that tracked their responses, and then they were asked the same questions a year later (without showing them their earlier responses), you could build timeseries data in a fairly robust manner that would demonstrate change over time of a consistent cohort.

    As the number of respondents grows, your only constraint on the data cohort would be how far back you were going. I’d be happy to wok with you guys on building a more robust survey in that manner (I work, in part, in data analysis).

    Reply this comment
  2. mikescraftbeer
    mikescraftbeer 13 December, 2015, 11:41

    More great data. Keep up the great work!

    Reply this comment
  3. dustansept
    dustansept Author 13 December, 2015, 13:05

    Thanks for the comments. Patrick, you are correct in your quibble with the frequency of consumption. Perhaps we were not clear. We don’t think people are drinking less beer but rather that the wider engagement of consumers with craft beer today has a tendency to drink less frequently than the smaller (more engaged) audience of a few years ago.

    Thanks for the comments and suggestions!

    Reply this comment
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  5. Navin Schaduangrat
    Navin Schaduangrat 7 July, 2016, 15:12

    Dustan – beautiful article! I wanted to chat more about data collection for the “Primary place of consumption” graph – it suggests that core consumption is at home and alone, by sheer virtue of the next x-axis data set being “At a party/friends”. Was wondering if that inference was reflected when talking to respondents? Thanks.

    Reply this comment
    • dustansept
      dustansept Author 9 July, 2016, 18:22

      Thanks Navin. I wouldn’t take from the results that people are drinking alone. They are rather drinking at home with family or a small group of friends.

      Reply this comment
    • Mike
      Mike 9 July, 2016, 18:27

      I know I far prefer drinking at home or at a friends home than at a pub.

      Reply this comment
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