The number of craft breweries in recent years has exploded, with the number of total US breweries jumping from less than 5,000 in 2015 to more than 8,000 in 2019, with only 67 of these breweries falling into the large/non-craft brewery category. But what exactly does it mean to be a craft brewery? And why are they so popular?
According to CraftBeer.com, a brewery has to meet three requirements to be considered an American craft brewery.
First, the brewery must be considered small, producing 6 million barrels of beer or fewer each year.
Second, the brewery must be independent in terms of ownership to be considered a craft brewery. To accomplish this, less than 25% of the brewery can be owned/controlled by an industry member that is not a craft brewer.
Finally, the brewery must have a brewer who produces beer, and has a TTB Brewer’s Notice.
So what makes craft breweries so popular?
Craft breweries are constantly pushing the envelope, brewing new twists on classic beers, offering unique (and occasionally bizarre!) craft beer flavors and combinations. Some craft breweries have even created new styles of beer.
Craft breweries are often heavily involved in and connected with their local communities. Many partner with local charity organizations for specialty brews, oftentimes donating a percentage of the proceeds to deserving organizations and regularly donating craft beer for fundraisers and events. It isn’t uncommon for one craft brewery to partner with another; some craft brewers will guest brew at another craft brewery, while others choose to exchange kegs of beer to allow beer lovers in a different area to try craft beer they may not otherwise have access to.
As of today, craft breweries make up an overwhelming majority of breweries in the United States. Although currently 98% of breweries in the US are craft breweries, craft beer sales are only responsible for 25% of the US beer market. In terms of the overall beer market, as of 2020, craft beer was responsible for 14%, imported beer was responsible for 19%, and non-craft domestic beer accounted for the remaining 67% of sales in the United States.
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