Tuesday, June 28, 2011

They Paved the Way… The overview

A Beer advocate thread posed the question:

They paved the way, “The modern Craft beer and homebrewing scene would not exist without “_______” and why?"  Could be a name, a brewery, a philosophy, etc. You only have one choice

This question intrigued me and set me off on a wild historical goose chase. This will be a multi-part post covering many different subjects. See the previous posts in this series below:

They Paved the Way- Introduction

To start, let me explain how I’m interpreting the question. I look at it as what started the craft beer boom we’ve been experiencing as of late. The boom I’m referring to is the increased numbers of US breweries and our ever expanding craft brew selection. Craft breweries are still a very very small portion of total beer sales even though they have been gaining market share. The market is dominated by the three beer behemoths in the US. Craft beer is only responsible for 4.9 % of the market by volume and 7.6% in dollars for 2010. The yardstick I’m using to measure the progress and success of the craft beer boom is the number of breweries in the US through various points in history. The more breweries in operation at a time the more successful the craft beer movement is.

January 1983 issue from backissues.com
The starting point for the craft brew movement is 1983. This is the year with the lowest number of breweries (80) after prohibition. The American Lager was completely controlling the US beer market and the big 3 companies were monopolizing the industry. Since I’m using the number of breweries as the measurement of craft brew success, 1983 is rock bottom. Something around 1983 started propelling the craft beer movement forward and increasing the number of breweries in the US.

Here’s an overview of the beer industry as of 2010:
Brewery Rank based on volume of sales:

      1. Anheuser-Busch InBev
      2. MillerCoors
      3. Pabst Brewing Co.
      4. Boston Beer Co.

- (1870) 3,200 breweries in operation

- (1983) 80 breweries in operation

- (2010) 1,753 total breweries in US.

- (2010) 1,716 are craft breweries.

- (2010) US beer market is approximately 101 billion dollars

- (2010) Craft breweries account for $7.6 billion of the market

Statistics from Brewers Association.
Even with Boston Beer Co. being considered a craft brewery at number 4, the total market share for all craft breweries combined is 7.6%. You can see it is a very steep uphill battle for any craft brewery to operate in the market. This is even more reason for you to support local craft breweries.

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