Big Year for Small and Independent Beer in 2019

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The Brewers Association looks back at the biggest moments in U.S. craft beer

Boulder, Colo.Dec. 10, 2019 — As 2019 comes to a close, the Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers— takes a retrospective look at the contributions and major milestones of the country’s craft brewing community during the past year. Continued growth, record brewery count, and craft beers’ museum debut are a few of the highlights from a memorable year for the industry.

“Small and independent breweries continue to be essential contributors to communities across the country, finding new ways to innovate and thrive amid evolving consumer preference and a competitive and maturing beverage market,” said Julia Herz, craft beer program director, Brewers Association. “It’s been an exciting year for both brewers and beer lovers alike and we look forward to celebrating new beerworthy moments in 2020.”

Of note in 2019:

  • Growth Amidst Competition: Craft brewing production grew in 2019, but as with 2018, the continued increase in breweries meant that the market also grew more competitive, particularly in widely distributed channels. The BA 2019 midyear survey measured 4% production growth year-over-year for small and independent brewers, slightly down from 5% in 2018. IRI Group scan data numbers through mid-November showed 2% growth for BA-defined craft brewers, similar to 2018 during the same period, and given reports in the second half of the year, 4% overall growth again seems likely for 2019.
  • Small Beer’s Big Impact: Brewery growth has driven tremendous job growth as well. The BA’s Economic Impact Report, a biennial analysis featuring economic data of craft brewing for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, showed that craft brewers contributed $79.1 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018, a 4% increase from 2017. Craft brewers were responsible for more than 550,000 full-time equivalent jobs, an 11% increase from 2017, with 150,000 of those jobs directly at breweries and brewpubs.
  • Record Brewery Count: Although final 2019 numbers are still being compiled, it is certain that more than 8,000 American breweries operated in 2019, a record number for the United States. At the same time, the competitive market led to more closures, and an estimated 300 breweries will have closed in 2019.
  • Certified Independent: More than 4,700 brewing companies have adopted the independent craft brewer seal, representing nearly 80% of craft beer brewed in the United States. In October, Delaware’s 21 small and independent craft breweries became the first state with 100% adoption of the seal.
  • Beer is Bipartisan: 324 representatives and 74  senators co-sponsored the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act in the 116th Congress, resulting in unprecedented bipartisan support. The BA has been a key player in moving forward this legislation that seeks to permanently recalibrate the federal excise tax for the nation’s brewers and reform burdensome laws regulating America’s brewing industry.
  • Hoppy Holidays: The Brewers Association launched two new national holidays—National Independent Beer Run Day on July 3, and Small Brewery Sunday on Dec. 1—to encourage beer lovers to celebrate and support America’s small and independent brewers.
  • Innovation Nation: From Gose to hazy, from barleywine to non-alcohol and everything in between, America’s independent craft breweries continue to innovate and adapt to evolving consumer lifestyles, tastes, and occasions.
  • Crafting Community: To promote a more inclusive and diverse craft beer community, the Brewers Association awarded its inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Event Grants to six events across the country. Applications for the second year of the grant program are being accepted through Dec. 31, 2019.
  • Night at the Museum: Brewing a Revolution, a display within the refreshed”FOOD: Transforming the American Table” exhibition, opened at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History,  highlighting the history and industry of craft brewing and homebrewing in the United States. The display is a result of the Brewing History initiative, made possible by support from the Brewers Association, to collect, document and preserve the history of brewing, craft brewers, and the beer industry in America.
  • Silver Screen Suds: For the Love of Craft, a documentary short produced by the Brewers Association, Studio C3, and Charlie Papazian, had its debut showing in Denver. The film, which features several luminaries of the craft beer community, has been screened more than 100 times in eight countries and was accepted into the Denver Film and Napa Valley Film Festivals.

A complete 2019 industry analysis will be presented during the annual Craft Brewers Conference® & BrewExpo America® held in San Antonio, Texas from April 19 through April 22, 2020. Conference registration is currently open to brewing industry personnel and media with early bird pricing available through February 6.

Contact: Jenelle Scott (on behalf of the Brewers Association), 970-963-4873 x224


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About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers, and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The BA represents 5,600-plus U.S. breweries. The BA’s independent craft brewer seal is a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers by small and independent craft brewers. The Brewers Association organizes events, including the World Beer Cup®Great American Beer Festival®Craft Brewers Conference® & BrewExpo America®National Homebrew Competition, and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The New Brewer® and Zymurgy® magazines, and Brewers Publications® is the leading publisher of brewing literature in the U.S. Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at® and about homebrewing via the American Homebrewers Association®. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

The Brewers Association is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital/familial status. The BA complies with provisions of Executive Order 13672 and the rules, regulations, and relevant orders of the Secretary of Labor.