Wild Beer Survey

Every year, organizations such as the Brewers Association, IBISWorld, Hoovers, and Mintel publish craft beer industry data. These reports often detail industry performance, product & markets, competitive landscape, major companies, and operating conditions, among others. While most of the data is general, some reports highlight specific product segments (IPA, seasonal, lager, etc). Unfortunately, despite wild beer representing the second-fastest and fastest growing beer segments in 2012 and 2013, respectively, they accounted for less that 0.1% of total craft beer sales. Therefore, it goes without saying that specific product segment data is not yet available for wild beer.

During my third go-round with the Third Leap business plan, I needed wild beer market data. And since there was limited information available, I decided to collect my own. In October 2015, I worked with a friend to develop the Wild Beer Survey, a brief ~5 minute survey designed to quantify trends in the wild beer industry. The survey collected information regarding wild beer demographics, style preferences, consumption habits, purchase habits, production preferences, packaging preferences, and general frustrations. It was shared among several wild beer communities, including Milk The Funk, Sour & Barrel-Aged Ale Enthusiasts, Saison, Bière de Garde, and Farmhouse Ale Appreciation Society, and Sour Beer Friends. I owe a lot of gratitude and thanks to these groups for their positive support in soliciting the survey among their communities, especially since HomeBrewTalk and BeerAdvocate did not. And of course, I owe just as much thanks to the survey participants themselves, especially considering there was no tangible incentive for completing the survey.

The survey was open for 30 days, accruing 328 responses. To summarize the data, I created an infographic which highlights the major findings of the survey. In addition, below are my 10 most interesting findings:

The Wild Beer Survey Results v2

  1. Wild beer appeals to a younger audience (25-34 year olds)
  2. Lambic/gueuze is the most preferred wild beer style (by far)
  3. Wild stout is the least preferred wild beer style (by far)
  4. Wild beer fans indulge in non-wild styles more frequently (2/3 of the time)
  5. Wild beer fans love sharing with others (70% of the time)
  6. Experimentation and risk is more likely to be rewarded (read: spontaneous)
  7. Half of all wild beer fans prefer seasonal releases
  8. Wild beer in growlers shouldn’t be a thing
  9. Wild beer in cans should be a thing
  10. Price is the single greatest frustration for wild beer fans

Admittedly, there were some flaws in the survey, most notably, a heavy bias towards male participants (95%). Additionally, I wrote all survey questions (instead of a professional survey writer), which may have created unintentional response bias. I plan to revamp the survey with some professional help and relaunch it through this website in the fall. In the meantime, if there are any industry folk who would like to collaborate in developing new questions, please leave a comment below!

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