For the third straight year, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau issued more than 1,000 new brewery permits, bringing the total number of permitted U.S. breweries to a record high of 7,190 in 2016.
According to recent TTB data published by National Beer Wholesalers Association chief economist Lester Jones, the number of permitted U.S. breweries has tripled from 2,343 over the last six years.
The government agency issued 1,110 new permits in 2016, down slightly from the 1,142 new permits issued in 2015.
Permitted breweries include brick and mortar facilities and alternating proprietorships while excluding contract brewers. It also includes brewers who may have recently shut down their brewing operations but have not yet been “delisted” by the TTB.
As of December 31, 2016, California had the most permitted breweries in the U.S., at 927, and Washington, D.C., had the fewest with 13.
According to Jones, California’s 927 permitted breweries is “almost as many as the entire U.S. total of 974 permits in 1995.”
Similarly, the TTB counted 264 total permitted breweries in Florida last year, which is 14 more than the 1990 national count of 250, according to Jones.
On a national basis, there are now 2.2 breweries per 100,000 residents, up from 0.7 per 100,000 residents in 2010. And, at the state level, Vermont has the highest number of breweries per capita, at 11.7, followed by Maine (7.7), Montana (7.6) and Colorado (7.0), Jones reported.
“Around the country, per capita brewery measures in many states have more than tripled since 2010,” he wrote.
But as overall beer consumption continues decline, Jones said he believes the increasing number of permitted breweries will only create stiffer competition in an already crowded beer category.
“With continued declines in per capita consumption of beer on the books for 2016, this year’s beer market is gearing up for another highly competitive, innovative and dynamic battle for share for consumer’s mind, wallet and stomach,” he wrote.