By Andy Young
The US Brewers Association has reported that the number of breweries in the United States has hit a new record high, with the number of breweries in the country standing at 5005 at the end of November.
Although craft beer growth is slowing somewhat in the US, the rate of brewery growth is still dramatic; in 2008 there were around 1500 breweries in the US, by early 2015 that had risen to 3500 and the number now tops 5000.
Bart Watson, Chief Economist with the Brewers Association said that while the craft beer growth rate has slowed, the category is still growing.
"While the craft brewing industry is entering a period of maturation, most markets are not near saturation,” Watson said. “As craft’s base gets larger, as with any industry, it becomes more difficult for it to grow at the same percentage rate.”
The details of the 5005 US breweries has come as the Brewers Association looked back on the defining beer moments and trends of 2016.
Watson added: “In the face of numerous opportunities and challenges in 2016, small and independent craft brewers continue to thrive. This community should be very proud of what it has accomplished and how far it has come.”
The Association highlighted that IPAs are still the most popular brew, representing “roughly one-quarter of craft volume”, but “sessionable styles including golden ales, pilseners and pale lagers are up 33 per cent”.
Exports were also strong for US craft brewers with craft beer export growth up 16 per cent, to 446,151 barrels, worth US$116m and with more than 100 small and independent craft brewers exporting their beers.
“This has been an exponentially exciting year as the beer community continues to grow and evolve. It is incredible to watch local brewers innovate and validate the new way the world views the US beer scene,” said Julia Herz, craft beer program director, Brewers Association.
“Much of the dialogue in 2016 centred around the craft brewer definition, who qualifies as a small and independent brewer, what independence means to beer lovers, beer quality and beer appreciation.
“We will renew our efforts in 2017 on behalf of our members and the beer drinkers around the world and continue to advance the amazing beverage of beer,” she added.