| Craft By The Numbers
by Jamie DeSasso
Just how big is the craft beer market and how fast is it growing? What style is the most
popular? What's the average cost of a craft beer? How many...... oh you get the idea. As craft
beer fans those types of questions define the subject of our passion. Well it seems that Draft
magazine and the Brewers Association have just come up with some interesting numbers that
tell the tale of the industry as of today:
21%: the share, in dollars, of the total beer market controlled by craft beer
12%: the share of the total beer market by sales volume
2.8 million: the growth in the number of barrels of craft beer sold over 2014’s numbers
25%+: the percentage of breweries that increased their brewing capacity by 50 percent or more
$36.58: the average price of a case of craft beer
6,080: the number, as of December 2015, of active TTB brewery licenses
4,283: the number, as of December 2015, of operating breweries. We’ll do the math for you:
that means there are 1,797 owners holding licenses for breweries they likely plan to open
within the next two years. That’s a pretty big number, considering…
620: the number of breweries that opened in 2015 (this is actually down from the all-time high
of 881 in 2014)
67: the number of breweries that closed in 2015
3,925: the number of breweries in the U.S. producing between 0 and 7,500 barrels of beer
each year. Together, these small breweries make up nearly 92 percent of the total number of
beer producers in the country, but they only produce about 1.5 percent of all the beer we drink.
21: the number of breweries in the U.S. producing more than 2 million barrels of beer each
year. Though a fraction of the brewery total, these producers make 84 percent of all beer
consumed in the country.
26.5%: the percentage of supermarket beer sales, in dollars, owned by India Pale Ales. This
means that more than a quarter of all craft beer sold at supermarkets is an IPA of some sort.
The next closest style, “seasonal,” makes up about 14 percent of the dollar share.
199%: the growth over last year, in sales, of session IPAs
250%: the growth, in sales, of “tropical-flavored” beer variants. (A little more about flavored
beers: In 2015, sales of brews spiked with oranges and tea increased 70 percent and 719
percent, respectively. Apple-, raspberry- and blackberry-flavored beer sales decreased by an
average of about 13 percent.)
45%: the percentage of people over 21, according to a Nielsen survey, who said that whether a
beer is made locally is “very important or somewhat important” to their purchase decisions.
Narrow the respondents to those aged 21 to 34, and the percentage goes up to 53. Only 34
percetn of respondents in the same study said that wine’s local production was at least
“somewhat important” to them; 23 percent said the same about liquor.
16: the number of states with 100 or more breweries
21: the number of states with at least two breweries per 100,000 drinking-age adult
Most of those numbers refer to what the Brewers Association call "craft". That, according to
the Association is defined in this way: a 'craft' brewery NOT as a standard of quality —even
though the term 'craft' is often brandished with fervid zeal as such— but as a requisite for
membership in the association.
An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional.
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.
Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic
interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
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.
That being said, there is no legal definition of a 'craft' brewery (or even a Brewers Association
definition of 'craft' beer). There is, however, a tax-tier differentiation. Under current federal law,
breweries making less than two million barrels annually pay seven dollars of excise tax per
barrel on the first sixty-thousand barrels they brew, and eighteen dollars per barrel on every
barrel thereafter. Breweries producing more than two million barrels per year pay eighteen
dollars per barrel on each and every barrel they brew.
While the definition of craft may seem a bit confusing and in part even controversial perhaps
the best way to identify what is truly a craft beer is to simply ask a beer drinker. As the saying
goes, "beauty is in the eye of the beerholder!"
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