What I'm talking about is market share. In some markets, there might be easy growth and unmet demand. In others, any growth in your market share means a decrease in your competitor's market share. The pie is getting bigger, but not fast enough to feed all the new mouths coming to the table.
Craft beer is growing at about 15% per year. In 2012, craft beer was 13,235,917 bbl. The previous year, it was 11,467,337 bbls, that's 15.42% growth in one year.
So there were 1,768,580 new bbls of demand. In 2012, there were 2,347 breweries in operation, and 409 new breweries that opened, and 43 that closed. That's a net of 366 new breweries, or 15.59% growth. Sounds good, right?
How much of that new demand was captured by established breweries? I know some (maybe most) of that was captured by New Belgium, Bouldevard, Sam Adams, etc. So how much was left for the start-ups? I'd be surprised if more than 25% of the growth was going to startups. I'd suspect it's more in the 10% range. If I'm right, 10% of the new demand is 176858 bbl, or 483bbl per new brewery. There might be some room for small breweries in certain markets, but you also have to look at the massive investments NB and Oskar and others are making in building new factories. The companies with the most capital will be best positioned to grab the new demand.
There are a lot of local/regional factors that go into this, and I don't have solid numbers for where the growth is going, exactly. 15% growth per year is not sustainable over a long period of time.