6,000 Breweries Now Open in US; Indiana New Brewery Growth to Increase

6,000 Breweries Now Open in US; Indiana New Brewery Growth to Increase

By Indiana On Tap Staff

As taken from 2017 Craft Beer in Review, published by Brewers Association, published December 13, 2017

Craft beer, in Indiana as well as in the United States as a whole, continued to grow in 2017 according the Brewers Association end of year report. Though the growth has slowed as compared to years past, the trend is still upwards, with the number of breweries passing 6000 in the second half of the year.

Mid-year growth was about 5%, according to the BA, and should be about the same for the second half of the year, although Brewers Association (BA) Chief Economist Bart Watson suggests there might be more robust growth for the year, somewhere in the 8-9% range. The actual numbers won’t be known for a few months.

Indiana has contributed greatly to this growth in numbers, with more a dozen and a half new breweries opening (possibly as many as two dozen if everything works out next couple of weeks). However, there were negatives as well. At least four breweries closed (Twisted Crew, Rock Bottom-86th St., Heady Hollow, and Outliers), and the revenue from Indiana craft beer was down 12% according to a recent report in Nuvo, mostly because of the influx of Yuengling early in the year. Despite these glitches, the year 2018 also portends many openings in Indiana, perhaps as many as twelve by March or April alone, and revenues are expected to recover from the Yuengling effect.

The BA report pointed out many aspects of the growing craft beer scene, including the >6000 brewery number, with 98% of those being small and independent. Overall, the 21+ population lives, on average, within ten miles of a craft brewery (Walter and I are so above average, we have no fewer than a dozen breweries with ten miles in any direction). Importantly, craft beer now provides employment for 456,373 people and contributes $67.8 billion to the US economy.

This past year saw the continued acquisition of craft breweries by mega-beer (Wicked Weed). To counter the confusion in identifying craft beer that these acquisitions have wrought, the BA introduced their upside down bottle symbol to better show which beer meets their definitions of craft and independent.

Other points that came out in the BA report include an increase in home brewers, up to 1.1 million brewers produced more than 1.4 million barrels of beer (1% of total US production), and craft beer has sparked an increase in travel, the so-called “beercation” or “beer tourism.” Finally, as reported here in November, craft beer accounted for more than $73.4 million in charity donations in 2016, the most recent year for which we have numbers.

Julia Herz, the BA’s craft beer program director said in the report, “This has been an incredible year for the craft beer community, with both challenges and successes.” She added, “What is especially gratifying is watching the positive aspects beer tourism and independent breweries are having on local communities.” Sounds like Indiana is in synch with the rest of the country when it comes to the state of craft beer.

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