Putting the BA’s mid-year report into perspective

The Brewers Association (BA) released their mid-year report on the state of craft beer in America and—no real surprises—craft breweries have sustained continual growth in the marketplace.  The broad strokes of the BA’s study:

  • In one year, craft breweries sold an additional 1.6 million barrels of beer (9 million this time last year, 10.6 million today).
  • Production volume has increased by 18%.  That figure is a bit skewed, though, as the BA recently tweaked the definition of what it means to be a “craft” brewery; the old definition was used for last year’s report.  One assumes it didn’t have too drastic an effect on the data.
  • 3,040 breweries operate in the United States as of 6/30/2014.  An estimated 99% are small craft breweries.
  • 1,929 craft breweries are in the process of opening.
  • Craft breweries employ 110,273 full-time and part-time jobs.
Courtesy of the Brewers Association

Courtesy of the Brewers Association

What do all these numbers even mean?  What’s the significance?  Why do we, the drinking public, care about this data?  The answer depends entirely on your disposition:

The Pessimistic Take:

The bubble is bursting!  The bubble is bursting!  Too many breweries!  We’re saturated!  Who’s crazy enough to start a new brewery now?  Do these start-ups even know what they’re doing?  The quality, man, the quality; is all this new beer even good?  Craft beer can’t maintain this growth, this is the end!

The Optimistic Take:

We’re winning!  What was once a fledgling industry a few years ago is quickly ascending to powerhouse status.  Watery domestic lagers are going down, craft beer is on the rise, and America is no longer the butt of the joke in the global beer industry.  Small businesses are succeeding, entrepreneurs are making their dreams come true, and beer enthusiasts have more options than ever!

Courtesy of the Brewers Association

Courtesy of the Brewers Association

Doomsayer or sunshine-and-rainbows: which is correct?  The truth lies, as it so often does, in the middle.  I won’t pontificate on why the pessimistic take is flawed (because I’ve already done that) and there are plenty of Negative Nancies bludgeoning the internet to death with articles about why the optimistic take is nothing but a euphoric illusion.  It’s up to you to decide what the BA’s report truly indicates.  However, I would like to aid you in your decision-making process by putting these numbers into perspective, giving you something with which to compare the information.

The number of other industries in America

Industry/Business How many in America
Breweries 3,040
Wineries Around 7,762
Starbucks 12,973
Tattoo Parlors Around 21,000
Ice Cream Parlors Around 80,000
Strip Clubs Around 4,000


If other things increased by 18%

The population of the U.S.: 370,402,000 up from 313,900,000.  That’s more than if the entire nation of South Korea moved to America.

The area of Colorado: 122,938.3 square miles up from 104,185.  If Maryland, Hawaii, and Rhode Island seceded to Colorado, there’d still be a little elbow room left.

The elevation of Mt. Elbert: 17,038.02’ up from 14,439’.  Add two and a half Mount Lees, the hill that the Hollywood sign sits upon, and you’re in the area.

Peyton Manning’s seven touchdown game: 8.26.  How it’s possible to score 0.26 TDs, I don’t know.  But, if anybody can do it, Peyton can.

Alcohol content of Oskar Blues’ Ten FIDY: 12.39 ABV up from 10.5.  Drink one Ten FIDY and four O’Doul’s and you’ll get the same buzz.


The number of jobs craft beer has created (110,273) is about equal to…

The population of Westminster, CO (110,945)

The population of St. Vincent and the Grenadine (103,000) plus 14 Vatican Cities (500)

The pages of 101 copies of the 1996 edition of Atlas Shrugged (1,088)

The seating capacity at the University of Michigan football stadium (109,901)

The combination of every Subway (40,000), McDonald’s (31,000), Starbucks (23,187), KFC (13,266), and Jack in the Box (2,100)  in the entire world (109,553)

About Chris Bruns

Chris Bruns is a self-professed beer geek living in Denver. Chris spends much of his time brewing beer at home with friends and family, attempting to visit every brewery in Colorado, attending special beer events and festivals, purchasing and assessing the latest releases from local breweries, and blogging about his adventures in the world of craft beer. He is also the Denver Craft Beer Examiner on Examiner.com. Contact Chris by e-mail at chrisdbruns@gmail.com or through his blog at www.beerincolorado.blogspot.com.