Microbreweries Are Not Selling As Much Beer As We Think They Are

In developing the business plan for a craft brewing, distilling and cider center in Tumwater, WA, I've been reading a lot about the importance of "hip", "local" and "authentic" to younger consumers. The result is ever more artisanal products, sold as having a connection to the land and people and people around us. (Is that screaming child next to you a terror, or does he simply have terroir?). Here's some of what I have learned about craft beer.


  1. According to the Brewers Association, craft beer revenues increased 13 percent last year, compared to just .2 percent for the entire beer industry. By value, craft beer now accounts for 20 percent of total beer sales. There are now more than than 4200 craft breweries and brew pubs nationwide.

  2. The states with the largest number of craft breweries are California, Washington, Oregon and Colorado. The state where I live, Washington has more than 300. More and more small towns are getting their own miocrobreweries and brew pubs, even places like Quilcene and Shelton, logging towns here.

  3. Despite the huge growth in the number of microbreweries, craft breweries with a smaller scale of production, a relatively small number of regional craft breweries, just 4 percent of all craft breweries, sell more than 75 percent of all the craft beer made. Their tiny number shows up as the tiny blue line in the chart on the left above. Their big market share is shown by dominant  turquoise area on the right. We say we like to buy local, but the odds are that when you are cruising down the supermarket cooler aisle and reach for a six-pack of craft beer, that beer probably comes from out of state.