As discussed on a recent episode of Beer Busters, the US has been quickly approaching a record-setting number of breweries. The Brewers Association has officially announced that there are 4,144 breweries in operation, an all-time high for the country.
The record was previously held in 1873, with 4,131 functional breweries. The past 142 years have seen a tumultuous journey for the beer industry, with declining interest and the implementation of prohibition from 1920-1933. Since the record was set there has been a steady decline in number of breweries in the US, plummeting to 89 breweries in operation in 1978. In 1996, the nation once again crossed the threshold of over 1000 breweries and continued to grow 400% in the next 19 years.
The Brewers Association accompanied the announcement with an infographic to compare the two beer landscapes. 1873 saw more breweries per capita with an estimated population of 42 million, while in 2015 the population is roughly 312 million. New York produced the most beer at 2.9 million barrels, while today Pennsylvania takes the award with 4.1 million barrels.
Currently 15 states also have more than 100 breweries, and new breweries are opening at an average of two per day. Should this rate continue as expected, in less than two years there will be over 5000 breweries. The Brewers Association also reports that locally made beer is important to the majority of craft beer drinkers. IPA has remained the most popular style of beer, and the style is currently growing faster than the industry as a whole.
While some believe there is a bubble surrounding craft beer that will likely soon burst, one thing is certain: it’s a great time to be a beer drinker.