Remember what it was like to live in a craft-beer city? Me either. Every small town in America now claims that title, and with good reason. According to the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, 83 percent of the country’s population now lives within 10 miles of a local brewery. That’s staggering. We could debate whether or not that’s actually improved beer, but it doesn’t change this reality: Craft beer is more popular in America today than it has been since Revolutionary War times.
“This has been an incredible year for the craft beer community with both challenges and successes. Emphasized more than ever before is the need to advocate for and educate beer drinkers on the importance and value of craft brewers to our nation and our culture,” said Julia Herz, craft beer program director, Brewers Association, in a statement. “What is especially gratifying is watching the positive impacts beer tourism and independent breweries are having on local communities.”
The Brewers Association offered some highlights from 2017, a 12-month period of beer exploration it’s referring to as a “watershed year for craft beer.” Here are some of the highlights.
Data shows that 6,000 breweries were in operation during 2017, with 98 percent being categorized as small and independent craft brewers. That’s also a pretty mind-boggling statistic. Take it back a year: In 2016, there were more than 5,300 breweries, and small and independents made up 12.3 percent of market share. That market share number is probably pretty similar today, given how big-box operators continue to gobble up independents (looking at you Wicked Weed and Anheuser-Busch). That trend is only going to continue. Again, much could be debated about the merits of such acquisitions. A topic for another time.