The 2014 craft beer stats are predictably impressive. One stat in particular that stood out is the re-rise in growth of the brewpub sector. In 2012, growth of brewpubs dipped, and some thought that maybe enthusiasm for brewpubs declined in favor of microbreweries. Well, microbreweries are still killing it (33 percent growth year over year), but brewpubs for two straight years have shot back up, showing 20 percent growth in 2014.
Bart Watson, chief economist of the Brewers Association, said he thinks some of the growth increase is from a larger diversity of brewpub business models.
“Brewery restaurants have really gone beyond the pub model and have been thinking of it more as an integrated, overall experience,” Watson said during a press conference at the 2015 Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America. His point is that a brewpub always brought to mind a brewery in the back and burgers out front, but now those menu items are improving and diversifying. Sushi restaurants, thai restaurants and all kinds of restaurants that traditionally would not have been brewpubs are now adding a brewhouse as part of their mission.
And this makes sense when you consider the likely success of a brewpub versus a standard restaurant. From Watson:
“Fifty percent of brewpubs that have ever opened are still opened; in the restaurant industry, the stat is that 60 percent will close within the first three years.”