While the news media has primarily only reported “gloom and doom” as it relates to the U.S. economy in the last few years, craft brewers are growing at an unprecedented rate. In fact, many are struggling to keep up with sales. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Co., for example, are planning to open new breweries on the East Coast in an effort to supply the entire country with their beer. According to the Brewers Association (BA) in Boulder, Colo., there are now over 2,000 operating breweries in the United States, and craft beer revenue was up 15% in 2011.
Craft brewers produced 1.3 million barrels of beer in 2011, which represents $8.7 billion in sales. (To give you an idea of how much beer that is, a U.S. barrel represents 31 gallons – two 15.5 gallon kegs.)
According to Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, “It is becoming increasingly clear that with the variety of styles and flavors to choose from, Americans are developing a strong taste for high-quality, small-batch beer from independent brewers.” Microbreweries and “nano-breweries,” which make only a few barrels at a time, are on the rise these days as well. Many of these breweries have tasting rooms, where the beer is mostly sold over the bar in 4-oz. “tasters,” 16 oz. “pints,” and 64 oz. “growlers” (1/2 gallon jugs). Unlike brew pubs, which offer food made on site and served restaurant-style, many of these establishments allow food from other restaurants to be delivered to the tasting room so the brewery patrons can enjoy food with their beer. The breweries also sell merchandise, (hats, t-shirts, glassware, etc.) and they make a decent profit on those items as well.
This year, Craft Beer Week will be held May 14-20, 2012. Please support your local brewery! For more information on Craft Beer Week, please visit the following link: http://www.craftbeer.com/pages/news-and-events/american-craft-beer-week