A record number of 1,049 new craft breweries opened in the U.S. in the last year, according to figures released by the U.S. Brewers Association today. However, also 219 craft breweries closed, which is also the highest number in history. In total, the overall number of operating craft breweries increased by 13.2 percent to 7,346, which also marks a record. Never in history before, there were more operating breweries in the U.S. than today.
More than one third (2,594) of the total are small brewpubs, which are defined as restaurant-breweries that sell 25 percent or more of its beer on site. The majority of 4,521 are midsized micro-breweries with an annual beer production of less than 15,000 barrels (17,600 hl). Only 231 fall into the category of regional breweries with an annual beer production of between 15,000 and 6,000,000 barrels (about 7 million hl).
“Craft maintained a fairly stable growth rate in 2018 and continued to gain share in the beer market,” said Bart Watson, Chief Economist, Brewers Association. “Small and independent brewers continue to serve as job creators, strong economic contributors, and community beacons.”
In 2018, small and independent brewers collectively produced 25.9 million barrels (30.4 million hl) and realized 4 percent total growth, increasing craft’s overall beer market share by volume to 13.2 percent.
Retail dollar value was estimated at $27.6 billion, representing 24.1 percent market share and 7 percent growth over 2017. Growth for small and independent brewers occurred in an overall down beer market, which dropped 1 percent by volume in 2018. The 50 fastest growing breweries delivered 10 percent of craft brewer growth. Craft brewers provided more than 150,000 jobs, an increase of 11 percent over 2017.
“The beer landscape is facing new realities with category competition, societal shifts, and other variables in play. There are still pockets of opportunity both in terms of geography and business model, but brewers need to be vigilant about quality, differentiation, and customer service,” added Watson.