OK, so the Brewers Association has a much better (and interactive) graphic about this but I am (obviously) not a web designer so my hurrah to surpassing the 3,000 brewery mark is much more jpg’y. Here is the press release info from their website with my comments in orange.
“The American brewing industry reached another milestone at the end of June, with more than 3,000 breweries operating for all or part of the month (3,040 to be precise). Although precise numbers from the 19th century are difficult to confirm, this is likely the first time the United States has crossed the 3,000 brewery barrier since the 1870s. Wieren (1995) notes that the Internal Revenue Department counted 2,830 “ale and lager breweries in operation” in 1880, down from a high point of 4,131 in 1873.”
To think that we have crossed the 3K mark is incredible. And I do think when all is said and done, the U.S. will have close to the record.
“What does 3,000 breweries mean? For one, it represents a return to the localization of beer production, with almost 99% of the 3,040 breweries being small and independent. The majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a local brewery, and with almost 2,000 planning breweries in the BA database, that percentage is only going to climb in the coming years.
Secondly, it means that competition continues to increase, and that brewers will need to further differentiate and focus on quality if they are going to succeed in a crowded marketplace. While a national brewery number is fairly irrelevant without understanding local marketplaces, 3,040 breweries could not happen without increased competition in many localities.”
99%! Damn that is a lot of small. I would like to see that become a smaller number. I think to truly integrate into the minds of every beer buyer, there needs to be breweries of all shapes and sizes and with multiple locations. Nothing against nano. But a world of just nano will eventually stagnate in my thinking. And larger generally does mean more QC and lab and hopefully higher quality.
“What it does not mean is that we’ve reached a saturation point. Most of the new entrants continue to be small and local, operating in neighborhoods or towns. What it means to be a brewery is shifting, back toward an era when breweries were largely local, and operated as a neighborhood bar or restaurant. How many neighborhoods in the country could still stand to gain from a high-quality brewpub or micro taproom? While a return to the per capita ratio of 1873 seems unlikely (that would mean more than 30,000 breweries), the resurgence of American brewing is far from over.”
Great, now we get to have the saturation debate again. Oh how I love the doomsayers and their predictions which are as close to coming true as apocalyptic preachers.