One of the more oft-cited stats about the craft beer movement currently is 2,300—as in more than 2,300 breweries in the United States now, more than at any time since the 1880s. But might it be wrong?
A Bloomberg article on craft brewers who have turned down private-equity buyouts drops this little statistical gem:
To meet demand, craft brewers have rushed to build new capacity, driving the total number of breweries last year to the highest since the 1880s. Brewery permits spiked 19 percent to 2,751, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The biggest increases came in California and Texas as all but seven states gained breweries. New Jersey was among four states that lost breweries.
The craft-beer segment, of course, is growing in terms of production and sales volumes, so that 2,751 (which includes non-craft operations as well) should only swell. For how long? Who knows?
The growth now, though, is of a decidedly more stable nature than the growth back in the 1990s, when the craft-beer segment was also growing at double-digit percentages and frightening Big Beer. That growth imploded at the turn of the century, as more than 200 craft operations ceased (1999 was the first year that more craft breweries and brewpubs closed than opened). And that implosion was due to oceans of beer of dubious quality from entities in it not really for the craft but for the quick buck (plus other factors like Anheuser-Busch‘s 100 percent share of mind and just the whole newness of craft beer). Today’s growth seems to be a hard-earned synthesis of both craftsmanship and profitability.
· Craft Brewers Chug Away Head Pressure By Bankers to Sell [Bloomberg]
· Actually, Yes, Big Beer Did Manipulate the Market and Prohibition Did Affect Smaller Breweries [TomAcitelli.com]