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There are now 4,656 breweries in America, more on the way

August 2, 2016 - 9:08 AM
- by Kendall Jones, Washington Beer Blog -

The Brewers Association just released its mid-year metrics report. In short, the news is good; the craft segment of the beer industry continues to show historic growth. As of June 30, 2016, there are 4,656 breweries in America, the most in the nation’s history. Also of note, the metrics show an eight percent increase in production volume thus far in 2016.

America’s craft brewers* are still growing. This news is according to mid-year data just released by the Brewers Association—the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers.

As of June 30, a record high of 4,656 breweries were operating in the U.S, an increase of 917 breweries over the same time period of the previous year. Additionally, there were approximately 2,200 breweries in planning.

Craft brewers currently employ an estimated 121,843 full-time and part-time workers in a variety of roles including many manufacturing jobs, all of which contribute significantly to the U.S. economy.

“While the craft brewing industry is entering a period of maturation, most markets are not near saturation,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “As craft’s base gets larger, as with any industry, it becomes more difficult for it to grow at the same percentage rate. Yet there is still tremendous dynamism reflected in eight percent growth for craft. Production growth of small and independent craft brewers continues to be one of the main bright spots for domestic beer in the U.S. Even in a more competitive market, for the vast majority of small and independent brewers, opportunities still exist.”

“The opening rate compared to closing rate for breweries remains incredibly strong, with a historic number of breweries operating in the U.S.,” added Watson. “As long as there is growing consumer demand, beer lovers’ thirst will continue to advance the category of craft brewed beer from small and independent producers.”

Note that this data set includes the small and independent breweries that the Brewers Association anticipates being included in the 2016 data set.

* The Brewers Association defines a craft brewery as small, independent and traditional. Exactly how those three terms (small, independent and traditional) are defined by the BA is a matter of much debate. As for me, I can’t tell you what a craft brewery is, but I know it when I see it.
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