The Year of the Brewer
2014 was a big year for craft beer brewers. According to the preliminary numbers released by Brewers Association, last year craft brewers reached a high-water mark by accounting for 11 percent volume share of the marketplace, including an estimated 22.2 million barrels of beer brewed, an 18 percent rise in volume and a 22 percent rise in retail dollar value.
Strictly speaking, the Brewers Association lists craft brewers as having an annual production of 6 million barrels or less and is not owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft beer. With more consumers opting for locally-produced beers and more palatable flavor profiles, home-grown breweries are growing by leaps and bounds.
Buoyed by these numbers, 615 new craft breweries opened in the U.S. last year, an increase of 19 percent over the previous year, bringing the grand total to 3,464. This growth in craft breweries is also providing new opportunities for more than just beer drinkers and brewers, as these places provide an estimated 115,469 jobs across the country.
“With the total beer market up only 0.5 percent in 2014, craft brewers are key in keeping the overall industry innovative and growing,” stated Bart Watson, chief economist Brewers Association. “This steady growth shows that craft brewing is part of a profound shift in American beer culture—a shift that will help craft brewers achieve their ambitious goal of 20 percent market share by 2020. Small and independent brewers are deepening their connection to local beer lovers while continuing to create excitement and attract even more appreciators.”
The big beer companies have taken notice of this trend and are doing everything in their power to combat the rise of craft brews. Aside from airing anti-craft beer Superbowl commercials, some companies are attempting to market their own mass-produced wares as craft brews.