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Mid-Year Growth for Craft Breweries Remains Steady at 5 Percent

Mid-Year Growth for Craft Breweries Remains Steady at 5 Percent

The Brewers Association has released the numbers for mid-year growth for small and independent craft brewers. Though news of a slowdown has been rife, the BA's statistics portray a sunnier future.

Growth during the first half of 2018 remained stable, according to the BA, holding at 5 percent for the first 6 months of the year. 

“While more mature, the market continues to show demand for small and independent craft brewers,” said Bart Watson, chief economist of the Brewers Association in a press release. “There are certainly industry headwinds, but this stabilized growth rate is reflective of the market realities that exist for brewers today.”

In addition, as of June 30, there were 6,655 active breweries, up from 5,562 during a comparable timeframe last year with more than 2,500 breweries estimated in planning. The full release from the Brewers Association is below.


Boulder, Colo. • July 31, 2018—Growth for small and independent craft brewers remained stable for the first half of 2018, according to new mid-year metrics released by the Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers. Production volume for the craft segment increased five percent during the first half of 2018.

“While more mature, the market continues to show demand for small and independent craft brewers,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “There are certainly industry headwinds, but this stabilized growth rate is reflective of the market realities that exist for brewers today.”

As of June 30, there were 6,655 active breweries, up from 5,562 during a comparable timeframe last year. An estimated 2,500 to 3,000 breweries are in planning, based on active Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) licenses.

“The data demonstrate that 2018 is on pace to have the highest number of brewery openings and closings to date. However, even as breweries close, openings continue to far outpace the number that shutter,” added Watson. “New players looking to enter the space should be aware of the constructs of the current landscape, work to differentiate themselves and will need to make quality beer to succeed.”

Craft brewer definition: An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional. Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately three percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer. Traditional: A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

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 4,800-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 BA organizes events including the World Beer Cup®Great American Beer Festival®Craft Brewers Conference® & BrewExpo America®SAVORTM: An American Craft Beer & Food ExperienceHomebrew ConTMNational Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The New Brewer® magazine, and Brewers PublicationsTM 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 CraftBeer.com® and about homebrewing via the BA’s American Homebrewers Association® and the free Brew Guru® mobile app. Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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 11246 and the rules, regulations, and relevant orders of the Secretary of Labor.