The Brewers Association, a not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, recently looked back at how craft brewers fared in 2014, with some interesting results.

Brewery licenses are at their highest on record, while IPAs are still the preferred style and variety packs have performed well.

“It’s remarkable to see how beer has evolved in the past century. Year over year we’re seeing tremendous growth in the craft beer sector and 2014 proved that craft beer is moving into the mainstream,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “Consumers are making a conscious choice to buy and try the plethora of options produced by small and independent craft brewers.”

Important points of note from 2014:
– US brewery count returns to historic levels. In November, the US passed the mark of 3,200 brewers in the country and the number of brewery licenses reached the highest ever, topping 4,500 in the first sixth months of the year. Thirteen states (CA, CO, WA, OR, MI, NY, PA, TX, FL, WI, IL, NC, OH) now have more than 100 breweries each.

– Breweries are opening at a rate of 1.5 per day. In addition, there are more than 2,000 breweries in planning.

– Craft brewers were the growth point in the overall beer industry. Through June of 2014, craft brewers enjoyed 18 percent growth by volume. Numerous data channels are showing continuing double-digit growth for craft in the second half of the year.

– India Pale Ales (IPAs) remained the most favoured craft beer style. According to retail scan data, IPA is up 47 per cent by volume and 49 per cent by dollar sales, accounting for 21 per cent volume share of craft and 23 per cent dollar share of off-premise beer sales. Additionally, the style was the number one entered category at the Great American Beer Festival®.

– Variety packs had a strong year with craft beer lovers. Retail data also indicates that variety packs are up 21 per cent by volume and 24 per cent by dollar sales, equating to nine per cent volume share of craft and seven per cent dollar share.

– Craft beer appreciators are becoming as diverse as craft beer itself. Data indicates that 38 percent of households bought a craft beer in the last year versus 29 per cent in 2010. Additionally, women consume almost 32 per cent of craft beer volume, almost half of which comes from women ages 21-34. Hispanic populations are demonstrating increased craft engagement as well.

“More and more breweries will spur innovation, meaning there will be even more offerings on hand for beer geeks and beginners to enjoy,” Watson added. “Not to mention more opportunities to explore and support local breweries, which has a profound impact on the economy at the regional, state and national level.”

Note: Figures are a compilation of data provided by the Brewers Association, Symphony IRI and Nielsen. The Brewers Association will release a comprehensive annual analysis of craft brewer production in March 2015.



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