Despite the recent influx of mergers and acquisitions, craft beer was alive and well at the 27th annual Great American Beer Festival and competition in Denver, Colorado this weekend. The record-breaking event brought in even more exhibiting breweries as its founders and producers, the Brewers Association, made gains this year with additional space and more interactive sessions. A total of 242 medals were awarded in 90 categories with over 5,000 beers from 1,300+ breweries.
But those weren’t the only big numbers we learned during our jaunt in the Rockies.
As if the energetic crowd of over 60,000 beer fanatics wasn’t enough, the BA announced another impressive milestone for craft beer. As of September 2015, there are now 4,000 craft breweries in the United States – up approximately 200 breweries since just this past June 2015. That’s an average of ~2 new breweries PER DAY.
And remember those brewpubs? The ones that seemed like something more from the 90s than current day? Those are popping up at lightning speed also – with a 10% increase in brewpub openings since 2014 bringing the U.S at a grand total of 1,570 brewpubs and counting. That’s a lot more than BJ’s and Rock Bottom!
The rise in hyper-localized breweries and brewpubs is a shining example of the healthy state craft beer is in. Considering the fact that 96% of breweries produce less than 15,000 barrels annually, we are seeing more craft breweries who care about servicing their immediate community first and foremost. We’ve been covering the tumultuous affairs in our industry pretty heavily this year, so we can’t help but be happy to learn of these new statistics.
But what about the bubble?
All this buying and selling makes people nervous about craft beer reaching the ceiling, but the BA strongly thinks we’re not close to bursting the bubble quite yet. While 4,000 breweries is largely significant, there are roughly 8,000 wineries in the U.S today.
Are you a local homebrewer with brewery aspirations? Join the club. According to BSG’s Jake Keeler, who also sits on the American Homebrewers Association Board, there are 1.5 MILLION homebrewers in America right now. An impressive leap which we’re sure the Godfather of Home Brewing himself, Charlie Papazian must be beaming with pride about.
So while your favorite regional brewery may have sold out to the Man, there is still much hope for this industry and it’s growth — And there are no signs of slowing down.