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Brewers Association Report Means More Road Trips for Beer Itineraries

Submitted by on August 8, 2011 – 7:44 pmNo Comment

Road Trips for Beer photo by Gerard WalenRoad Trips for Beer, both the trips and this website, exist because of the many small breweries that produce beer hyper-locally or in limited regions. Touring some of the large breweries, such as Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, Missouri, or Coors in Golden, Colorado, can be a good time and add to the beer traveler’s knowledge of brewing.

But being on the road is more fun when you are in search of the undiscovered, visiting small and independent breweries in destinations where you can taste beer that isn’t available in the cooler of the corner convenience store at home.

That is why today’s news from the Brewers Association excites us. The group reports that there are now 1,740 of those craft breweries operating in the U.S., and 725 in planning.

Curious about how the BA came up with its “in planning” numbers, we emailed Paul Gatza, the  Brewers Association director. This was his reply:

“It involves communication with our Membership Coordinator and Brewery Detective Erin Glass. The test is convincing Erin that a company is serious about starting. In most cases she hears about a prospective startup from the web or email and then starts to look into it before contacting the party(ies) involved. She then checks in with registered startups on a regular basis to see how the planning is coming along and evaluate whether the registration should be continued.

“We consider the list as accurate for known breweries in planning, but we are hearing about new ones all the time, so I think of the count as the minimum out there. In this era of nanobreweries, we often miss people in the planning stage and don’t hear about them until after they are brewing and selling beer. (Selling beer under the assumption that they have a TTB Brewers Bond is the criteria we use to move status to ‘open.’)

“Most breweries in planning join the BA to receive membership benefits that help the process along, such as the BA Forum, conference discounts, The New Brewer mag, etc. “

Though the method seems informal, it’s appears to be a good way to keep track. Likely the follow-ups from Glass weed out a lot of “I’m opening a brewery someday” dreamers, and as Gatz said, there are probably more that are under the radar, so the number might be conservative.

The way we look at it, there are a whole lot more destinations to be added to the itinerary of any Road Trip for Beer.

Here’s the release from the BA:

Brewers Association Reports 2011 Mid-Year Growth for U.S. Craft Brewers

Dollar growth up 15% in first six months of 2011; U.S. sees rapid growth in breweries in planning

Boulder, CO, August 8, 2011 – The Brewers Association, the trade association representing the majority of U.S. brewing companies, has released strong mid-year numbers for America’s small and independent craft brewers¹. Dollar sales were up 15 percent in the first half of 2011, excluding brewers who left the craft segment in 2010². Volume of craft brewed beer sold grew 14 percent for the first six months in 2011, compared to 9 percent growth in the first half of 2010.

Barrels sold by craft brewers for the first half of the year are an estimated 5.1 million barrels. Despite many challenges, the mid-year numbers show signs of continued growth for craft breweries. The industry currently provides an estimated 100,000 jobs, contributing significantly to the U.S. economy.

“Craft brewers continue to innovate and brew beers of excellent quality,” noted Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association. “America’s beer drinkers are rapidly switching to craft because of the variety of flavors they are discovering. And they are connecting with small and independent craft brewers as companies they choose to support.”

The U.S. now boasts 1,790 breweries—an increase of 165 additional breweries since June 2010. The Brewers Association also tracks breweries in planning as an indicator of potential new entrants into the craft category, and lists 725 breweries in planning today compared to 389 a year ago. Additionally, the count of craft brewers was at 1,740 as of June 30, 2011.

“There is a growing interest in establishing new breweries,” Gatza added. “It seems like every day we are hearing about a brewery in planning. Will they all make it? No, but many will if they produce high-quality, interesting craft beers and can get them to market through self-distribution and beer wholesalers and beer retailers.”

¹ The definition of a craft brewer as stated by the Brewers Association: An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional. Small: Annual production of beer less than 6 million barrels. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition. Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer. Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.

Three former craft brewing companies left the segment in the second half of 2010 when transitions led them to no longer meet the Brewers Association’s definition of independence.


Brewers Association sheds more light on its recent decision to redefine ‘small brewery’

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