Today, May 12, is the first day of American Craft Beer Week. The Brewers Association, the leading trade group for the industry, created the week in 2006 from its old American Beer Month. The move reflected not only changes in U.S. beer consumption and culture, but also the birth of the Brewers Association itself.
In January 2005, members of the Brewers Association of America, the World War II-era group then representing larger regionals and craft breweries, and the Association of Brewers, born in 1978 amid the nascent craft beer movement, officially joined forces to create the Brewers Association. The move capped months of sometimes contentious negotiations.
Barely a year later, in spring 2006, to burnish not only the new Boulder, Colo.-based group’s presence but that of craft beer in general, the BA announced that first American Craft Beer Week.
It was a propitious time for craft beer and a week (and a trade group) dedicated to it. The craft beer industry and its market share were both growing steadily again following the Great Shakeout of 1999 and 2000, during which as many as one-third of the craft-brewing operations in the U.S. shuttered. A release from the BA for that first American Craft Beer Week, for instance, notes America’s “nearly 1,400 craft brewers.” There must be twice that number now. Cheers.