I wrote a piece for the Echoes blog of Bloomberg View on events that made American craft beer the world’s stylistic champ (and they provided the snazzy Depression-era photo above of tax inspectors checking a brewery’s production):
The Brewers Association, the main trade group for U.S. beer-makers, announced June 20 that the number of American breweries had surpassed 2,500, more than at any time since at least the 1880s and more than in any other nation.
The vast majority (more than 2,300) are craft breweries, independently owned companies that make beer on a small scale using traditional ingredients. There are also, according to the association, as many as 1,559 breweries in the planning stages, most of them craft.
This growth shouldn’t be surprising, given that craft beer’s share of the $99 billion U.S. beer market increased to $10.2 billion in 2012, from $8.7 billion in 2011.
European beer was once considered the world’s best. Brewers there didn’t produce in the same volume as Anheuser-Busch (BUD), but their products were regarded as higher quality. That perception began to change in the 1990s, as U.S. craft beer makers racked up successive years of double-digit growth.
By the new century, many critics recognized U.S. beer for its excellence. American brewers had redefined age-old styles and created new ones; and their consumers were increasingly savvy.
There were four important milestones in the development of the industry.
· Four Milestones Made U.S. the World’s Craft Beer Champ [Echoes]