It was all going so well for the small and independent craft brewers in the US — and then Covid-19 came along …

Bob Pease, CEO/president of the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade association representing small and independent American craft brewers, reports on the latest figures for the American craft brewing industry in 2019

Brewers Association Bob Pease

The Brewers Association recently completed its annual survey of 5,500+ brewery members, used to measure the performance of the US craft brewing industry. In 2019, small and independent American craft brewers collectively produced 26.3 million barrels of beer (30.8m hectolitres) and realised just under 4% total growth, taking craft’s overall beer market share by volume to 13.6%.

Retail dollar value was estimated at $29.3 billion, representing 25.2% market share and 6% growth over 2018. Growth for small and independent brewers occurred in an overall down beer market, which dropped by 2% volume in 2019. Craft brewers provided more than 160,000 direct jobs, an increase of 7% over 2018.

There were 8,275 craft breweries operating in America in 2019, with 942 new brewery openings and 294 closures. American craft beer maintained a stable growth rate in 2019 and continued to gain share in the beer market.

We are seeing demand for new and exciting styles, like American IPA, barrel-aged beer, and well-made classics continuing to grow both domestically and overseas. American craft brewers continue to lead the global craft beer movement in terms of innovation and the development of new flavours outside of traditional styles.

 forklift in brewery

Despite American craft brewers entering 2020 on a solid foundation, the beer landscape is dramatically different now to just a few months ago. According to a recent Brewers Association poll, independent craft breweries are being severely impacted by Covid-19, as evidenced by a sharp drop in craft category sales, massive furloughs or layoffs, and the high likelihood of a large number of brewery closures while under social distancing mandates. A majority of breweries do not think their business can last three months given current conditions.

The craft beer community is rooted in collaboration and philanthropy, and now is our chance to come together and give back to our most vulnerable breweries, so the Brewers Association has launched a new initiative to support breweries impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

We are partnering with Bottleshare, a fundraising, non-profit support scheme dedicated to the craft beer community, to create the Believe in Beer Fund. The fund is open for breweries and guilds from across the country to apply for immediate financial assistance for operational expenses such as payroll, rent and utilities.

This is a challenging time for breweries and their livelihoods are at risk. We hope creating this relief fund with Bottleshare will provide an answer to the most common question beer lovers have been asking during this unprecedented time: “How can I help?”

About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts.

The BA represents 4,000-plus US breweries. The BA’s independent craft brewer seal is a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers by small and independent craft brewers.

The BA organises events including the World Beer Cup, Great American Beer Festival, Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America, SAVOR: An American Craft Beer and Food Experience, Homebrew Con, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week.

The BA publishes The New Brewer magazine, and Brewers Publications is the largest publisher of brewing literature in the US.

Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at CraftBeer.com and about homebrewing via the BA’s American Homebrewers Association and the free Brew Guru mobile app.

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