The Brewers Association announced that craft breweries* produced 24.6 million barrels of beer in 2016, 6% more than in 2015. It was the smallest increase since 2008. Retail dollar sales grew 10% to $23.5 billion. Microbreweries and brewpubs delivered 90% of the growth.
“Small and independent brewers are operating in a new brewing reality still filled with opportunity, but within a much more competitive landscape,” BA economist Bart Watson said in a press release. “As the overall beer market remains static and the large global brewers lose volume, their strategy has been to focus on acquiring craft brewers. This has been a catalyst for slower growth for small and independent brewers and endangered consumer access to certain brands.”
Additionally, in 2016 the number of operating breweries in the U.S. grew 16.6%, totaling 5,301 breweries, broken down as follows: 3,132 microbreweries, 1,916 brewpubs, 186 regional craft breweries and 67 large or otherwise non-craft brewers. Small and independent breweries account for 99%t of the breweries in operation. Throughout the year, there were 826 new brewery openings and 97 closings. Combined with already existing and established breweries and brewpubs, craft brewers provided nearly 129,000 jobs, an increase of almost 7,000 from the previous year.
During on online press conference, Watson reminded reporters that 75% of the breweries in the country make less than 1,000 barrels annually. As the number of small breweries increases, he said, so does diversity of both business models and beers produced.
* The Brewers Association defines craft breweries as small, independent, and traditional. Some breweries once defined a craft no longer are, and the math behind the numbers can be complicated. Watson provides back ground in a post at the association website: Breaking down the craft beer numbers.