U.S. Brewery Count Rises to 2,336

The Brewers Association makes a count on the last day of each month of number of operating U.S. breweries, Brewers Association members and breweries-in-planning. The growth has been fast and steady over the past year. The December 31, 2012 count came in at 2,336 breweries–an increase of 387 more than the year-end 2011 count of 1,949. That’s more than one new brewery for all 366 days in the calendar year. Happy New Year!

The Brewers Association also has reached out recently to principals connected to our brewery-in-planning list to ascertain whether the plans are still moving along and/or when the expected opening date is for the new brewery. As a result of our ability to inactivate some of those brewery-in-planning records and convert many to operational brewery status, our brewery-in-planning count has declined to 1,254 from a high of 1,381 at the end of October. Thanks to Erin Glass, Sarah White and Tami the Temp for their efforts to clarify the intentions of some of these people/entities. 

A couple months ago, Beer Institute’s Lester Jones publicized the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau’s (TTB’s) count of active brewery notices of 2,751. What is the difference in the two numbers? The TTB number is of brewers notices. Brewers who operate as alternating proprietors have brewers notices. Multiple brewers may have notices but use the same brick-and-mortar brewery to make their beers in that alternating proprietor relationship. Contract brewing companies do not have brewers notices and are not in either the TTB or Brewers Association count.  Also, the TTB tends not to quickly inactivate notices from brewers that have closed in the past couple of years, in hopes that they may revive and pay excise taxes again. So the number of breweries in the U.S. is 2,336 until the count gets updated at the end of January.

The count of operating U.S. breweries who are Brewers Association members is now at 1,650, up almost 300 breweries and 22 percent from the year before, and up from 1,000 four years ago. Seventy-one percent of U.S. breweries are members, up from 69 percent the year before. On the brewery-in-planning rolls, we have 995 members, up from 582 the year before. So the wave of openings appears that it will continue. Other membership numbers we have include 154 international breweries, 64 contract brewing companies, 7 companies that function only as alternating proprietors, 580 allied trade companies, 432 craft beer distributors and 704 individuals. American Homebrewers Association membership has climbed over 35,000.

Current counts by market segment are 24 breweries that are part of the two large brewers, 109 regional brewing companies, 1,084 microbreweries and 1,119 brewpubs. These numbers are a snapshot in time. Note that when we compile the 2012 brewery numbers as part of our Beer Industry Production Survey, the totals will be different because they will also include companies that closed during the year (because they did operate in 2012) as well as new information on openings and closings that come my way during the research and number crunching parts of the project. Final numbers will be presented at the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, DC on March 27, 2013 and in the May/June issue of The New Brewer. You can also expect a growth press release in March and the top 50 craft breweries and top 50 U.S. breweries lists to come out in April.

Anyone care to give a guess at what the year-end 2013 count will be? Cheers!

Paul Gatza

January 11, 2013

Paul is director of the Brewers Association (BA). Paul is a member of the association’s Brewpubs, Technical, Communications, Market Development, PR & Marketing and Government Affairs committees. Paul’s origin in the beer community started when he took up homebrewing in 1990. He worked on the bottling line at Boulder Beer and owned a pair of homebrew supply shops from 1994 to 1998. He served as director of the American Homebrewers Association for seven years and is in his 12th year as BA director.

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