Brewers Association Releases Report on Growth of Craft Beer in 2018

Brewers Association Releases Report on Growth of Craft Beer in 2018

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

Bart Watson, chief economist for Brewers Association, has released the report on craft beer sales, volume, and openings for 2018. There are a lot of numbers presented in the report, but the take home message is a good one. Craft beer is growing steadily, similar to 2017, and is increasing sales and production in a market that has seen an overall decrease in beer sales. Overall, there was a 4% growth in craft beer by volume, lower than in previous years, especially compared to the years of double digit growth – but the bigger you get, the harder it is to keep growing at the same rate.

You can find BA’s summary of the report and their infographics here.


Here is a breakdown of the report with 2017 statistics and some Indiana statistics provided for comparison:

Change in all beer sales by volume (not just craft): 2018 – 1% decrease, 2017– 1% decrease.

Craft brewery production in barrels: 2018 – 25.9 billion, 2017 – 25.1 billion

Change in craft beer sales by volume: 2018 – 7% increase, 2017 – 5% increase

Change in craft beer sales as a percent of the market: 2018 – 13.2% increase, 2017 – 12.6% increase

Change in craft beer sales in dollars: 2018 – 7% increase ($27.6 billion), 2017 – 8% increase ($26 billion)

Percentage share of total beer market in dollars: 2018 – 24.1%, 2017 – 23%

Number of craft breweries: 2018 – 7346, 2017 – 6266

National craft brewery openings: 2018 – 1049, 2017 – 997       Indiana craft brewery openings: 2018 – 32, 2017 – 16

National craft brewery closings: 2018 – 219, 2017 – 165             Indiana craft brewery closings: 2018 – 6, 2017 – 5

National closure craft brewery closure rate: 2018 – 3%, 2017 – 2.6%          Indiana craft brewery closure rate: 2018 – 3.4%, 2017 – 3.4%

Number of small brewery jobs: 2018 – 150,000, 2017 – 135,072


The trends that stood out to me:

Overall sales for beer were down again, but craft sales were up by both volume and dollars. As long as craft sales keep going up, the over all number isn’t that concerning.

Growth in craft beer sales and production remain steady over recent time. It isn’t the double digit growth we saw a few years ago, but this may be more sustainable.

Craft beer is just about one quarter of all beer sales in dollars. To hit 25% of all beer sales would be quite a milestone given mega beer price point and brand loyalty.

Indiana’s closure rate has been slightly above the national average for the past two years.

Craft beer had $27.6 billion dollars in sales of beer in 2018. If you add in equipment and real estate values, labor paid, and taxes paid then craft beer is near a $40 billion part of the economy. Craft beer should have a bigger voice in policy decisions and popular culture. For comparison, US movie ticket box office for 2018 was $12 billion, and look at all the pull the movie industry has; craft brewers should be stars!

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