Year in Beer
The Brewers Association looks back at a year marked by overall growth but lots of variation.
Mixed Signs of Recovery
Breweries, bars, and restaurants continued their long and unsteady recovery in 2022, and while total on-premise sales have bounced back to their previous trends, draught beer is still recovering.
Despite headwinds, more than 9,500 breweries operated in the United States in 2022.
Riding through a challenging and competitive year, taprooms and brewpubs found ways to innovate and keep customers coming through the door, while brands with a retail presence continued to compete with other beverage alcohol choices for shelf space.
2023 will be a reset for many brewers as the maturing craft industry continues to grow more competitive, facing both internal business pressures and externally the continued growth of new beverage alcohol competitors. While these challenges are daunting, craft brewers are known for their innovation and flexibility, and will need both as they evolve to meet the next generation of beer lovers with new beers and new occasions.
The Big Fight for Small Brewers
Nationally and on the state level, the Brewers Association continued its work to ensure small brewers have equitable access to markets, fair tax rates, and sensible regulations.
In the fight for fair treatment for craft brewers, the Brewers Association submitted comments to the Department of the Treasury on wholesaler consolidation, unfair state franchise laws, and restrictions on direct-to-consumer sales. In February, the U.S. Treasury, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released its report on competition in the beer, wine and spirits industries.
The 64-page report detailed eight overarching concerns with the alcohol industry and recommendations to improve competition, including proposals for updated regulations from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The BA applauded the report’s recognition of laws that “inhibited the growth and competitiveness of craft producers,” and recommended the department re-examine state franchise laws, direct-to-consumer access and ways to battle slotting fees and other “discriminatory conduct” within the industry.
In 2022, the Brewers Association joined fights at the state level against lowered excise taxes for ready-to-drink canned cocktails (RTDs) in Arizona, New Jersey, Washington and Vermont and grassroots advocacy in Illinois, New Jersey, California and Colorado. The BA will continue its advocacy for direct to consumer (DTC) shipping, protecting existing allowances in states such as California, and bringing the practice to states without.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) Shipping Equity Act (H.R.3287/S.1663) is bipartisan legislation that would give USPS the same ability as private carriers to ship alcohol in states where it is legal to do so. This legislation is benefcial to breweries, consumers and the postal service.
Supply Chain Challenges
Climate change, and persisting supply and ingredient disruptions and shortages continued to plague brewers throughout the year.
The two major agricultural inputs in brewing beer, barley and hops, are facing unprecedented challenges created by climate change. Although the 2022 harvest improved, the severe depletion of stocks in 2021 kept barley supplies and prices high in a very dynamic and changing market.
2022 hop acreage declined slightly in the U.S., while the European harvest was the worst in decades.
As the economy ramps back up, and on-premises beer and restaurant sales increase, so will demand for CO2. More brewers may feel the pain of facing curtailed production schedules or even full-scale shutdowns as some brewers did during the pandemic.
Brewing for Tomorrow
Through its mentorship program the Brewers Association has connected more than 100 mentors with entrepreneurs, professionals looking to develop their knowledge and skills, and those seeking to break into the craft brewing industry for the first time. With its fourth cohort completed, the program has hosted 124 mentees and 102 mentors.
Since its inception in 2019, the Brewers Association mini grants program has provided more than $150,000 in grant funds to DEI organizers and advocates around the country who have thoughtfully and intentionally promoted and fostered a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive craft beer community.
40,000 celebrate 40
After a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus, the excitement was palpable at the nation’s largest ticketed beer festival. The first GABF in 1982 featured 24 breweries and 47 beers. 40 years later, the 2022 edition showcased 500 breweries from 46 states plus Washington, D.C. with more than 2,000 different beers poured on the festival floor.
2023 Beer Predictions
Brewery openings will be the lowest in over a decade.
Distributed craft volume will not grow.
Supply chain will remain rocky, but collectively average prices will come down from 2022 peaks.
Total brewery employment will still grow.
This is Indie Beer
Because of indie brewers, beer simply is not what it used to be—it’s more
Without indie beer we would never have just hit 9,118 breweries in America as of 2022. In fact, most Americans live within ten miles of an indie brewer.
Indie beer is beautiful.
Indie beer is local.
Indie beer is diverse.
Indie beer is everything from the murkiest hazy IPA to the sweetest barrel-aged pastry stout.
And everything in between.
Without a doubt, indie beer has had a meteoric impact on American culture. Neighborhood breweries are expanding flavor profiles, unearthing novel ingredients, pushing production methods, reimagining physical spaces, and deepening community connections.
Because independence matters. Because beer matters. And together indie brewers matter. Is that beer you’re drinking an indie beer? Find out and learn more about indie beer here.