Thursday, December 11, 2014

Three-thousand two-hundred breweries.

In case you haven't heard the news, there were more breweries —'craft' breweries— in the United States, at the end of November, than there were a year ago.

Not such unexpected news, you say?

Well, make that more breweries than only a month ago, or even a week ago, or just yesterday. During the first eleven months of 2014, breweries were opening at a rate of ... 1.5 per day.

The Brewers Association (BA) —the advocacy group for 'small' and 'independent' breweries in the United States— has released its year-end short-form review for 2014. Some other salient data:

  • There are now 3,200 active breweries in the country. (By the end of 2013, there were 2,722.)
  • There are 13 states that each have more than 100 breweries apiece. 1
  • Through June of 2014, 'craft' breweries enjoyed 18 percent growth by volume, and the assumption, based upon data, is that they will have enjoyed a similar rate during the second half of the year. 
  • IPA is the most popular 'craft' beer 'style.' 
  • Women now consume almost 32 percent of 'craft' beer volume.
Not released in this report, but also according to the BA, the highwater mark for the number of breweries in the United States was 3,286, set in the year 1870. Next year, in 2015, early in the year, there's a new record waiting to be set.

The grant at Anchor Brewing

There is no legal or federal-government requirement for a 'craft' brewery. However, the Brewers Association defines it —for the purpose of membership— as:
  • Small
    Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships. 2

  • Independent
    Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.

  • Traditional
    A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

  • 1 My unofficial brewery total for the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area combined, based on Twitter-use, is 115: 11, 42, and 62, respectively.
  • 2 An 'alternating proprietorship' is an arrangement in which two or more brewing companies take turns using the physical premises of a brewery. Generally, the proprietor of an existing brewery, the 'host brewery,' agrees to rent space and equipment to a 'tenant brewery.'

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