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Small Breweries as plentiful as in 1910… Hoorah?

midyear2009_100-Years-LRA really interesting press release just came our way from the Brewers Association summarizing the mid-year craft brewing numbers.

Perhaps the most interesting part was the chart (attached) that indicates the growth and decline based upon the number of actual breweries. I was amazed to see that the US has just now, in 2009, surpassed the number of breweries that were here in 1910.

So post-prohibition it has taken about 75 years to rebuild the industry.   As a matter of fact, the number of breweries has increased from under 100 to over 1,500 in just the last 30 years.  Most of this growth has clearly been in the small and independent craft brewers.

The U.S. now boasts 1,525 breweries, the highest number in 100 years when consolidation and the run up to Prohibition reduced the number of breweries to 1,498 in 1910. “The U.S. has more breweries than any other nation and produces a greater diversity of beer styles than anywhere else, thanks to craft brewer innovation,” Gatza [Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association] added.

The other interesting take away was the exponential growth from the mid nineties through the early 2000’s.  Obviously that growth has tapered off recently (as it has for almost everything else), but it leads me to wonder how much room is left for additional growth in the craft brewing industry? Have we reached the peak?

So rest easy tonight as you can officially party like it’s 1910 all over again.

6 thoughts on “Small Breweries as plentiful as in 1910… Hoorah?”

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  3. Couple of things:

    1) I think there’s a lot more room for growth. After all, the 1910 Census recorded 92 million people living in the U.S. As of 2009, we’re sitting at 305 million. That’s 331% growth. We should be able to sustain almost 5000 breweries. We have a lot more drinkers, now.

    Of course, that assumes that regional breweries like Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Fat Tire, etc. won’t eventually turn into the new generation of Busch/Miller/Coors by stifling the growth of small artisan and craft breweries.

    2) I really wish the BA would show information about how they reach their numbers for graphs. Are they counting multiple locations of the same brewery as multiple breweries?

    I’d love to see their reference on the number of craft breweries that existed in 1910. I bet that’s fascinating. I bet it also called for some pretty heavy interpretation to fit into this graph.

  4. Erik makes some great points. The population growth could be important in the continued growth of the craft beer segment. The leveling off of their numbers though leads me to believe that there is another “push” necessary to encourage that additional growth. If you consider that the last major increase was when the craft movement was first taking hold – what do you think the next wave of real growth will be?

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