As the Great American Beer Festival wraps up another year, and we all drink lots of water and prepare our livers for the next round, we reflect on last week’s events and the state of small beer in this country. This year’s festival boasted an incredible showing of 3,500+ beers from 750+ breweries and 60,000 attendees—the biggest ever. Ticket sales for the event sold out in just over an hour.
So, what’s going on? It’s pretty obvious from the ever-expanding list of breweries in the U.S. that craft beer and craft beer consumption is on the rise. This bubble isn’t anywhere near bursting, and here’s why…
The hard-working folks over at the Brewers Association have crunched the numbers and the statistics look good. In 2014, overall beer consumption was up 0.5%, while craft beer sales were up 17.6%. Overall in 2014, craft beer claimed 11% of the total market share. That’s $19.6 billion of $101.5 billion spent in the United States on beer. The Brewers Association expects to see that number up to 20% of the total market share by 2020.
Historically, we’re near reaching the “Most U.S. Breweries Ever” mark. All the way back in 1873, Ulysses S. Grant was President and the U.S. Congress enacted the “Comstock Law” which made it illegal to send any “obscene, lewd, or lascivious” books through the mail. That’s also the year Coors Brewing Company started making beer in Golden, Colorado and the Woman’s Temperance League was organized. An astounding 4,131 breweries were operating in the U.S. at that time. This number, of course, dropped to zero in 1919 with Prohibition, and has steadily worked its way back up over the past 80 years.
According to the Brewers Association statistics, we reached 3,464 breweries at the end of 2014 and at the time of this writing, have exceeded 4,000. An astounding 75% of people age 21+ live within 10 miles of a brewery.
By state, Texas ranks third in the U.S. for economic impact ($3.8 billion), but ranks 33rd per capita. In a state this large, there’s still plenty of room to grow. As for the risk of reaching a saturation point, that’s not likely. As more and more people turn to small-batch and local offerings, the market stands to support the growth. Comparatively, there are over 8,000 sustained wineries in the United States alone.
The expectation and vigor for microbreweries and brewpubs in the U.S. is apparent. That’s where our hard-earned dollars are going, and the value is worth it. In 2014, the industry provided 424,000 jobs, with more than 115,000 jobs directly at breweries and brewpubs. This trend toward craft beer represents a broadening of expectations toward local, quality brews that support our communities and provide important social gathering places. So long as new breweries can meet the ever-expanding palettes and increasing demand for innovative, quality beers, it appears that they have a good chance to survive.
Now these are some delicious statistics…
Craving more numbers? Check out The Brewers Association.
Charts and graphics from www.brewersassociation.org/statistics