Brewers Association Counts More Than 5,000 U.S. Breweries


And then there were 5,005.

In its year-in-review released on Monday, the Brewers Association said more than 5,000 breweries were operating throughout the United States at the end of November.

The figure represents an increase of more than 730 since last year and, according to the industry trade organization, 99 percent of those companies are still “small and independent.”

“Much of the dialogue in 2016 centered around the craft brewer definition, who qualifies as a small and independent brewer, what independence means to beer lovers, beer quality and beer appreciation,” said Julia Herz, Brewers Association craft beer program director, in the press release. “We will renew our efforts in 2017 on behalf of our members and the beer drinkers around the world and continue to advance the amazing beverage of beer.”

Not surprisingly, IPA is still the king of craft beer styles, accounting for about a quarter of the segment’s volume. Sessionable beers — golden ales, pilsners and pale lagers — now account for five percent of the craft beer market, an increase of 33 percent.

So what’s driving the continued interest in craft beer? Choice. The BA reported that 65 percent of people who drink craft say they want variety.

Helping drive the growth is DIY beer. The BA counted 1.2 million homebrewers in the U.S., helping create 11,000 jobs and generating $1 billion in spending and more than $700 million in revenue. Also on the homebrew front: The National Homebrew Competition remained the world’s largest beer competition, drawing 7,962 entries.

So where are the hotspots for homebrew? The top seven: Boise, Idaho; Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota; Nashville, Tennessee; Phoenix, Arizona; Rochester, New York; Tampa, Florida; Windsor, California.

The hottest spot for craft beer tourism remains Portland, Oregon, topping Travelocity and the BA’s Beer Tourism Index.

As part of its summary, the BA also shared a few previously reported statistics:

Through the midway point of the year, the craft segment was growing at an eight percent clip and, in 2015, American craft export volume increased by 16.3 percent, to a total of 446,151 barrels.

In 2017, the BA said it would make another attempt to pass the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which would lower excise taxes, compliance burdens, and regulations on alcohol makers. The trade organization added that bipartisan support for the legislation in the U.S. Congress, which more than half of it now supports, would hopefully lead to the bill’s passage.

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