The Brewers Association‘s Craft Brewers Conference & BrewEXPO America keeps on matching the size and growth of the craft beer industry as 2016 was with the biggest conference to date. The exhibit space was enormous, filled with vendors from all across the world, and a lot of the talk among brewers at the show centered on finding ways to manage their growth, while also planning for a more competitive, price-sensitive (consolidated?) future.
One of our favorite traditions of the CBC every year is getting a run down of the “state of the industry.” Let’s take a look at where the craft beer industry sits as of May 2016. Spoiler: Still pretty awesome.
Looking at the beer industry as a whole, craft beer represented 21 percent dollar share with a 12 percent volume share. You may recall the BA’s goal getting volume share to 20 percent by 2020. While this might still be possible in some way, with all of the consolidation and acquisitions by Big Beer, that number (at least by the BA’s craft beer definition) seems less attainable. Which I guess is a bummer because round numbers are cool and grab headlines in the mainstream, but as long as all of you are still selling beer and growing by 2020, who cares. Right? Right.
Speaking of growth, there is still much of that going on even if it hits the ear as less impressive when stacked against last year’s history-making numbers. Barrel growth hit 2.8 million barrels (bbls), which is down from last year’s previous high of 3.3 million bbls of growth. Production is still far out-pacing capacity with 24.5 million bbls of capacity to 40 million bbls of production.
Brewery openings declined from the previous year (which makese sense considering a whopping 881 breweries opened in 2014) but still came in at a rather robust 620 — much higher than 2013’s 502. So, there is a slowdown, but a slowdown off a fairly huge number.
But even if that doesn’t impress you, consider this: Nearly half of all craft breweries (49 percent) increased capacity by at least 10 percent. Even better: More than a quarter increased capacity by 50 percent or more. So all of those hundreds and thousands of breweries that have started popping up over the last few years aren’t just fun throw-away stats; they are prospering, growing businesses. But if you are still more excited about massive brewery opening numbers, fear not, as the TTB is showing 6,000+ active licenses at the end of 2015.
Brewery closings clocked in at 67 for 2015. Considering the number of openings, this is still a fairly impressive number. However, previous years’ closing numbers have been revised to show slightly higher counts than was initially announced in those years (2013: 68; 2014: 73). So, there may be a few more closings under the radar.
Pricing increased 3.9 percent in 2015, with the average case price coming in at $36.58. Further, that number is pumped up by the growth at the top-end of the pricing scale (see below) — $51 to $65.99 cases grew 61 percent, which was the highest of the four segments listed. Even the highest tier, above $66, grew 28 percent while below $35.99 only grew 26 percent.
By segment, brewpubs increased barrelage by 9.8 percent to 1.28 million bbls, microbreweries grew by 24.2 percent to 3.93 million bbls and regionals grew by 11.3 percent to 19.08 million bbls.
Export demand continues to rise, but the growth rate has fallen from previous years, coming in at 16 percent growth in 2015 (446,151 bbls total).
I’m sure all of this math has only whetted your appetite for more CBC 2016 coverage. Luckily, we have a shit ton (or about 15,000 shit bbls) of coverage in our archives. Give it a look here (#cbc2016).