Just How Big Is Craft Brewing?

When you break it down, there are really only two types of beer: craft and non-craft. And also imports.

Craft brewing is relatively new – at least when you compare its current size to its size historically. The amount of craft beer produced and sold in America hit a new high in 2016 according to the Brewers Association.

But just how big is craft brewing? It might be bigger than you think.

In 2016, craft brews made up 12.3% of the total domestic beer market. To put that into perspective, imports made up 16.9% of the total market.

Yes, craft brewing in America still doesn’t sell as much as imports. But some of those imports (Corona, Heineken and more) hardly even seem like imports. These beers are so readily available that you would be forgiven to put them in the same field as Budweiser or Miller.

Speaking of Bud and Mill, domestic beers (such as…Bud and Mill) made up the rest of the market, or 70.8%.

Craft Beer Sells

Even though craft beer is the smallest of the beer markets, it’s growing pretty quickly. The amount of craft beer bought rose by 6.2%, and the production rose by 6%.

Fun fact: import beer sales rose by 6.8%, but overall beer sales remained stagnant. That means that domestic beers sales dropped in 2016.

In 2016, the craft beer market was worth $23.5 billion, good for a 10% increase in sales. Not bad, craft beer.

One cool thing about craft brewing is that other people around the world are enjoying it, too. There were 465,617 BBLS exported last year. Finally, people around the world can start enjoying some wonderful American craft brewing! Even though they already were before.

We Drink A Lot

Guess what? We drink a lot.

A lot.

In 2016, there were 196,794,624 BBLS (barrels) of beer sold in the US. Each barrel is 31 gallons, so that makes 6,100,633,344 BILLION gallons of beer bought.

On the positive side, not all beer that’s bought gets drunk (rimshot).

Interestingly, there was no increase in the volume of beer sold from 2015 to 2016. This could be for economic reasons. There’s a curious phenomenon that occurs whenever there’s a recession. As the economy slides, the amount of alcohol sold rises! Who knows why.

Since the economy is whatever right now, beer sales increased by whatever.

We’ll just have to stay comfortable with our 6.1 billion barrels of beer a year…for now.

Thomas Short
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