(Noun) “Millennial”: A person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.
Every generation is known for something once that generation has come to pass, at least for a few years. Starting with the Baby Boomers, then to Generation X, the Millennials and finally, Generation Z. Every human born between 1977 through 1995, bunched in a group that defines them by their accomplishments, their work ethic, their music, their interests their spending habits… Never before, however, has a generation made such an impact on the consciousness of “Us” than the Millennials. Could it be the social media burst of activity that spans the globe, white-washing everyone with what is now “cool” and “socially conscious”? Never mind the running jokes on the lack of basic understanding (reading a clock, using a can-opener, “what is a Honda Coupe?”). All that aside, they are still known for being the most innovative, optimistic and misunderstood crop of people thus far. From changing the workforce to being more environmentally conscious, Millennials are a generation that is not afraid to make waves.
In the age of social media, same day delivery, electric cars, and the triumphant Mars exploration, there is little room for the boring, the underwhelming, the non-stimulating activities and products that were the set standard before.
Yes, Beer included.
Millennials are not impressed by mass produced beer brands such as Bud Light or Pabst Blue Ribbon, despite the lower price point. Surprisingly, younger people are intrigued by craft beers and private label brands. The food industry’s farm-to-table movement may have had something to do with this. The coffee shop Hipster by day, recycling scooter using, farmer’s market shopping, something of an Uber authoritarian, part-time vegan may have had something to do with this. The generation that pushes back against the norm is going back to basics, and they don’t want to fund the big machinery of corporate America.
People are adding “killing the beer industry,” to the list of things Millennials are ruining. Although sales in the beer market have slightly dropped, ruining the beer industry is far from reality. Instead of buying off the shelf name-brand beer, Millennials are supporting small local businesses that are pioneering the beer industry with their unique brews. This generation is known for valuing experiences rather than possessions, and instead of downing a 12 pack of Budweiser, they’re spending their money on growlers of craft beer (the word “growler” alone has me won over).
With the popularity of craft beers growing, it’s creating more of an opportunity for the development of new and interesting brews. There are so many different and unique flavor options, and some are even exclusive to individual breweries. Amongst the most popular brews are India Pale Ales (IPAs), Stouts and Porters, fruit flavored ciders and literally anything with a ton of hops. All these complex flavors have created an appreciation for beer that may never have existed before. Sure, our parents drank beer, their parents before them… It’s been a dietary understanding, included on most menus. However, they are not drinking just any beer or the one most shown during Superbowl commercials. Millennials will not be spoon-fed by marketing and insist instead on a more honest approach. The faith in the American engine of corporate America has waned.
Not only are they transforming the way people drink beer, but they are also making it a very social experience. Most people don’t go out and buy craft beer to drink at home; instead, Millennials love to attend breweries, events, or social gatherings with their beloved craft beer. Breweries are popping up like wildfire, and most of them cater to this social need that Millennials have. A popular trend for these breweries is to host trivia nights, themed events, and food truck rallies. For example, breweries have been known to host Game of Thrones watch parties and have different beers named after certain characters or occurrences that are on the ever-popular HBO show.
The comradery that these breweries bring between Millennials, accompanied by the trendy décor and, usually, industrial layout, is what keeps them growing and booming around the country. There is a feeling of inclusivity that may have been shelved for a while, revived in this generation just wanting to ensure that each effort – whether big or small – makes an impact. Big beer companies would do well to pay attention; they know what they want, and it happens to be fair pay and good beer. They’re out and about, capturing where they go, who they’re with and what they’re drinking. It’s quite powerful. It doesn’t take much more than a few tweets or Instagram posts to show the corporate world that they’re not lost in the vacuous mass-produced products from generations before them. Instead, they have been very busy, carefully cultivating their lives to their exact specifications. To every last detail. And why wouldn’t that also include beer?