Brewers Association Releases Mid-Year Metrics, Brewery Count at All-Time High

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The craft beer movement is still gaining momentum as new breweries are setting up shop, while established breweries are developing more unique flavors for the beer lovin’ consumer. The Brewers Association, a not-for-profit trade association, has released new data about the craft beer industry.

To fit consumer demand, craft beer production is up by 8% in the first half of 2016. To keep up with the influx in production, the industry currently employs roughly 121,843 full-time and part-time workers. The brew industry is expected to continue to grow in the next few years and has yet to reach its full potential.

“While the craft brewing industry is entering a period of maturation, most markets are not near saturation,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association in a press release. “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.”

As of the end of June, a record high of 4,656 breweries were brewing in the US. This is 917 breweries more than the same period in 2015. Not to mention, 2,200 breweries are in the process of opening.

“The opening rate compared to closing rate for breweries remains incredibly strong, with a historic number of breweries operating in the U.S.,” said Watson in a press release. “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.”

Craft Industry Vocab

A Craft brewer is small, independent and traditional.

Small is defined as producing an annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less, or approximately 3% of US annual sales. To classify as independent, less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned by an industry member that is not a “craft brewer.” And the term traditional means “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,” according to the Brewers Association.

The Brewers Association is made up of a community of small and independent American brewers. With an impressive membership that represents over 70% of the brewing industry–the members are responsible for brewing more than 99% of the beer in the country.