The American 'craft' brewing industry —and make no mistake, a business is what it is— congratulates itself this week during American Craft Beer Week (16-22 May 2016).
For the 11th year in a row, the [U.S.] Brewers Association has declared American Craft Beer Week (ACBW), the nationwide celebration of U.S. small and independent craft brewers. The weeklong tribute provides an opportunity for craft brewers to share their diversity, creativity and passion for the beverage they love with the greater craft beer community. From May 16 – 22, 2016, all 50 states will be holding events including exclusive brewery tours, special craft beer releases, food and beer pairings, tap takeovers and more to celebrate the ever-advancing beer culture in the United States.
In 2015, more than 60,000 beer lovers across all 50 states were also part of the ACBW Facebook Community. With over 4,100 craft breweries now open—an all-time high for our country—there’s even more to celebrate.
American Craft Beer Week is a fitting time to reflect on how craft brewers revolutionized not only the way beer is viewed, but also the landscape of American beer distribution and retail sales in a single generation. Consider that in 1980 there were a mere 42 brewing companies left after decades of consolidation producing, among them, a handful of different beer styles. Today we have more than 4,300 breweries—99% of them small and independent contributing myriad beer styles to a vibrant beer marketplace.
In the last four years alone, the snowballing interest in craft beer has resulted in a doubling of the number of breweries, while the mergers and acquisitions involving multi-national conglomerates and local favorites alike continue to create new challenges. There is little argument that craft beer is booming, but it’s imperative to understand how far we’ve come and do what’s necessary to protect the choices that our craft beer ancestors have enabled. Let’s celebrate and educate, all while inspiring others to join us—either through raising a well-crafted pint or pulling on those boots to brew themselves.
I'll commemorate these seven days in May in a different fashion.
I will not be honoring 'craft' beer's rock stars or its self-regarded revolutionaries; not the tribunes of "epic" nor the 'craft' solipsists; not the markete(e)rs, style promulgators, or experts.
In honor of the gals and guys who actually make our beer, I'll be commemorating the week, instead, as American Craft Brewers Week.
Thank you, brewsters and brewers, all 121,843 of you. This beer's for you.
- To determine its number for brewery employment, the [U.S.] Brewers Association counts employees at production breweries and brewpubs (including servers, bartenders, cooks, etc,), but only at breweries producing fewer than 6 million barrels of beer per year (and other criteria). The Beer Institute, however, counts employees at all breweries, no matter what the size, not including non-brewing staff at brewpubs, but adds the employees at beer-importing companies. Its count is much smaller: 49,576 directly employed by the brewing industry in 2015.But when ancillary industries are included, the number jumps to 1.75 million Americans.
- For more on American Craft Beer [Brewers] Week:
- For more from YFGF: