The days of explosive growth in the craft beer industry might be over, but accounts of the industry’s looming demise are being blown entirely out of proportion.
As of June 30, there were 7,480 active craft breweries in the United States, according to new data from the Brewers Association. That’s 1,016 more than the year prior. And another 2,500 to 3,000 breweries are in the planning stage, according to active Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) licenses.
While there has been a lot written in the past few years about the craft beer boom collapsing as drinkers pivot to Rosé wines and small batch spirits, Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association, says demand has been fairly steady. Craft beer simply reached a level of success that the percentage gains for openings and sales were bound to level off.
“Overall demand for beers from small and independent brewers continues to increase, but at levels that make it difficult for all breweries to grow simultaneously,” said Watson. “This is a sign of a maturing market that will likely continue in the coming years.”
Overall production volume among craft brewers was up 4% in the first half of the year. Most of the segment’s growth came from microbreweries, taprooms, and brewpubs.
The numbers are largely in line with the gains of the past few years. In 2018, production was up 5% and the number of craft breweries increased by just under 1,100. In 2017, production was up 5%, with 906 new breweries.