Craft brewers saw a 6 percent rise in volume in 2016.

The Results Are Out: Craft Beer is Still Going Strong

The gushing industry that is craft beer isn’t anywhere near kicking. At least not for the small and independent brewers out there.

In 2016, according to data from The Brewers Association, craft brewers saw a 6 percent rise in volume on a comparable base and a 10 percent increase in retail dollar value. Retail dollar value was estimated at $23.5 billion, representing 21.9 percent market share. In all, craft brewers produced 24.6 million barrels.

“Small and independent brewers are operating in a new brewing reality still filled with opportunity, but within a much more competitive landscape,” says Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association, in a statement.

The Brewers Association represents small and independent American craft brewers. With more than 5,300 breweries operating during 2016, small and independents made up 12.3 percent market share by volume of the entire industry.

The results showed that, by adding 1.4 million barrels, craft brewer growth outpaced the 1.2 million barrels lost from the craft segment, based on purchases by large brewing companies. Microbreweries and brewpubs can be credited with 90 percent of the craft brewer growth as well.

“As the overall beer market remains static and the large global brewers lose volume, their strategy has been to focus on acquiring craft brewers. This has been a catalyst for slower growth for small and independent brewers and endangered consumer access to certain brands,” Watson says in a statement. “Small and independent brewers were able to fill in the barrels lost to acquisitions and show steady growth but at a rate more reflective of today’s industry dynamics. The average brewer is getting smaller and growth is more diffuse within the craft category, with producers at the tail helping to drive growth for the overall segment.”

Speaking to this competitive upturn, if it feels like a new brewery joins the landscape every day, you’re not far off. In 2016, the number of operating breweries ballooned 16.6 percent to 5,301 total. There were 3,132 microbreweries, 1,916 brewpubs, 186 regional craft breweries, and 67 large or otherwise non-craft brewers. Vividly, 99 percent of the breweries in operation fall into the independent and small category.

And, while difficult to compete in, the industry is sustaining its key players. There were only 97 closings compared to 826 openings. This led to 129,000 jobs, a boost of nearly 7,000 from 2015.

A small brewery is defined as annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less. Independent means less than 25 percent of the operation is owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.

Traditional refers to a brewery that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavor malt beverages are not considered beers.

read more