US brewers top 5,000
It's craft, of course, with small brewers at 99% of total
The headline figure of this year’s wrap-up of newsworthy events in the American craft brewing industry is a stunner – the country’s brewery count now tops 5,000.
To be precise, according the Brewers Association, the country’s representative of small and independent brewers, as of the end of November the count was 5,005, with almost all, 99%, small and independent craft brewers.
That represents a gain of more than 400 brewers over the six months – at the end of June there were, again according to the Brewer Association, 4,565 breweries in operation.
It’s growth that appears to be unstoppable, at least the immediate future. BA chief economist Bart Watson reported in June that there were more than 2,200 breweries in various stages of planning.
“In the face of numerous opportunities and challenges in 2016, small and independent craft brewers continue to thrive,” said Watson. “This community should be very proud of what it has accomplished and how far it has come.”
IPA continues to be the leading beer style, with it accounting for around 25% of craft beer volumes. Sessionable styles, namely golden ales, pilsners and pale lagers, are up 33% in volume, accounting for a combined 5% of craft production.
Exports are increasingly a source of volume growth for American craft brewers. For calendar 2015, 446,151 barrels worth $116 million were shipped beyond the country’s borders, representing a 16.3% gain in volume over the previous year.
Canada was the leading destination for American craft, at 51% accounting for just more than half of all exports. Sweden, Ireland and the United Kingdom each accounted for roughly 10% of volumes, with Australia rounding out the top five with 4% of the total, or in excess of 17,000 barrels.
And as to whether there’s any danger of market saturation in the offing, it’s not a question directly addressed by the BA in its year-end wrap-up. That said, it does cleverly note that there are 10,000 wineries in operation in the US. Enjoy the wave.