Craft Brewing Growth 2019: Methodology

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The Brewers Association released our topline 2019 craft growth numbers today. This short post is just a quick reminder about how we collect our data and a few additional thoughts.

For much deeper analysis, I’ll be giving my annual “State of the Industry” presentation on 2019 tomorrow as part of CBC Online. If the live talk is full by the time you go to register, don’t worry – it will be available to download and listen to for free right after the broadcast ends. That’s where you’ll get more analysis of the numbers from 2019; this post is just a run through of the methodology for anyone who wants more on how these numbers are compiled.

Our annual numbers come primarily from a survey of U.S. brewers. It isn’t just a survey of members – we open the survey up to all breweries and actively try to collect their data, regardless of whether or not they are BA members. We follow up our mailed survey with emails and phone calls to every brewery in the country. This year we received almost 3,500 entries. The data is self-report, but is checked against other data sources where available. The reported volume represents more than 2/3 of the total volume in the survey. Any changes to the reported value from 2018 are over-written, and these self-reported changes represent the majority of the revisions made in 2019 to the 2018 numbers. Other revisions come from full state reports that weren’t available at the time of publication last year (California, for example) or new staff estimates based on updated information.

The next two largest sources of the data set are state excise tax data reports (either publicly available or obtained via FOIA – you too can obtain the Missouri beverage alcohol data set for a charge of $24.81) and estimates. This year, of the total estimated group, about 35% of the volume comes from state excise tax sources. These aren’t perfect – there are sometimes errors, sometimes only a partial year is available, and sometimes the state only has a partial measure (example: Oregon only reports instate sales). Of the remaining estimations (if you’re keeping track at home, that’s 65% of just under 33%, or between 21-22% of the total), about 30% is one estimate: Boston Beer. Because Boston Beer is a public company, they can’t report to us, but luckily there’s lots of other data points to help triangulate on their volume and trends. The remaining volume comes from scan, previous reports, help from guilds, and finally estimates based on things like brewhouse size and fermentation capacity (with a healthy discounting factor), media reports, or comparable brewery performance.

The totals are checked against things like TTB federal andstate production reports, total category scan, and POS data. I like to say that I’m confident in the estimates as a whole, but the individual estimates most likely have errors (which tend to balance out). As a whole, the reported values showed stronger growth than the estimates, with our total estimated group roughly static versus 2018, so growth isn’t coming from staff estimates, but from state reports and reported values.

Another methodological point is the difference between the historical values and the comparable data set used for the growth rate. For growth, we think the fairest approach is to use an apples-to-apples data set, whereas the historical values are snapshots of small and independent brewers in that year. This means that you can’t simply line up the craft number from last year with this year and get the growth rate. This year, the 2018 craft value and the comparable base aren’t that different, with the biggest change being the removal of Platform from the data set. Both numbers will be available to members when we publish the full data.

We’ll have the full data set used to compile these statistics, with the exception of any “do not publish” breweries up for members to download at the same time we publish the annual May/June statistics edition of The New Brewer. I’ll also be updating the national statistics, state statistics, and some of the raw state and other data sets used to compile our annual report on the website over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for lots more data.

Thanks for your patience as we get these up, with increased statistical and government affairs demands over recent weeks, data compilation and cleaning has been slower this year than usual.

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