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 percent production growth year-over-year for small and independent brewers, slightly down from 5 percent in 2018. IRI Group scan data numbers through mid-November showed 2 percent growth for BA-defined craft brewers, similar to 2018 during the same period, and given reports in the second half of the year, 4 percent overall growth again seems likely for the year.
- 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 million to the U.S. economy in 2018, a 4 percent increase from 2017. Craft brewers were responsible for more than 550,000 full-time equivalent jobs, an 11 percent 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 percent of craft beer brewed in the United States. In October, Delaware’s 21 small and independent craft breweries became the first state with 100 percent 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.
- 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.
- 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.
A complete 2019 industry analysis will be presented during the annual Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America held in San Antonio, Texas from April 19–22, 2020. Conference registration is currently open to brewing industry personnel and media with early bird pricing available through February 6.