NBWA Brewery Count Over 4,800

Some very interesting analysis from the NBWA, and their economist Lester Jones, about the number of breweries in America. Lester’s analysis uses slightly different metrics from the TTB and doesn’t define craft breweries as narrowly as the BA, and also the TTB doesn’t distinguish exactly what mat beverages are being made, if they’re licensed as a brewery then they’re included in the data. Those difference in calculating show the NBWA’s number for how many breweries there in America is 4,824, or over 550 more. But even more remarkable is that based on the number of “permitted breweries on record” at the TTB by the end of last year, that number could swell beyond 6,000, which seems absolutely crazy. The number is California alone, at 788, is just shy of 800. Sheesh!

Here’s the entire analysis below since the whole summary is worth reading:

Each year, the NBWA requests data from the TTB on tax paid withdraw volumes by size of brewery. Once again, this year’s TTB data provides some interesting brewing industry insights into the dynamics of the U.S. brewing industry. This data also is helpful for us to supplement the Brewers Association data on overall independent craft beer growth and brewery count. According to the BA, craft brewer volumes grew by 13 percent to 24.5 million barrels in 2015. The BA also reported 4,269 total operating breweries for 2015. As with all statistics, how the numbers are collected and reported can vary across organizations. In our industry, the numbers also change quickly.

As of April 2016, the U.S. domestic brewing industry had 4,824 reporting breweries according to the TTB. As with the BA’s brewery count of 4,269, this number is expected to change as additional new brewers are counted that may not yet have been fully recognized and/or reported by either the TTB or the BA data. The data presented below is for all types of malt beverage manufacturers and recognizes only the individual facility, not the ownership or control group.

Highlights from the 2015 TTB brewery count data include:

  1. The small brewer group (making less than 7,500 barrels) accounted for less than 2 percent of all domestic volumes yet accounted for 93 percent of all breweries. The smallest of this group has 566 breweries reporting less than one barrel of production each in 2015. These super small brewers can thank the contracting brewing industry for helping them sell almost 100,000 barrels – a figure well beyond their reported production capacity.
    The medium brewer group (making between 7,501 and 60,000 barrels) is a much smaller group consisting of 246 breweries, but these few breweries account for 1.6 times more volume than the 4,475 breweries in the small brewer group.
  2. The large brewer group consists of only 82 breweries making between 60,001 and 1.9 million barrels. This is a unique group within the industry as they pay the mixed rate federal excise tax of $7 for the first 60,000 barrels and $18 on each barrel over 60,001. While a much smaller group of only 82 breweries, they collectively produce more than four times the amount of beer as the medium brewer group. The large brewer group also has the largest range of production volumes and saw the fewest number of new entrants (17 breweries) into its ranks in 2015.
  3. Finally, we get the extra-large group. This is a group of only 21 breweries that produce more than 84 percent of all domestic beer – more than five times the amount made by all 4,803 combined. The closing of the MillerCoors brewery in Eden, North Carolina, will reduce this class of brewers by one in future reports and will take a significant-sized brewery offline for the first time in many years.
  4. The industry added around 1,500 new breweries in 2015 – that is equivalent to four new breweries a day entering the marketplace. As a highly capital-intensive business, starting small is the name of the game. Growing a beer brand takes a long time, and economies of scale are earned over decades. The largest U.S. breweries have been in operation for decades, and economies of scale should help maintain the beer volumes even in the face of declining per capita beer consumption.
  5. With more than 6,000 permitted breweries on record at the end of CY 2015, 2016 is set to be an even more competitive year for the brewing industry. Just as economies of scale drive the brewing side of the industry, logistical expertise and local market insights drive the efficiencies inherent in beer distributor networks. Working together and maximizing their comparative advantages, brewers, distributors and retailers will deliver unprecedented choice and value to American beer consumers in 2016.

Brewery counts by size 2015_Page_1

Brewery counts by size 2015_Page_2

Beer Birthday: Lester Jones

Today is also the 49th birthday of Lester Jones. Lester was for a number of years the economist for the Beer Institute, the man who crunched all the numbers, including the great resource Beer Serves America, but a couple of years ago he moved over to do the same job for the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA). As a big fan of the dismal science, I’ve gotten to know Lester well over the years and appreciate all that he does to help promote beer. He’s one of the good guys. Join me in wishing Lester a very happy birthday.

Lester Jones, of the Beer Institute & George Reisch, of Anheuser-Busch @ GABF Saturday
Lester with George Reisch, from ABI, at GABF in 2009.

Lester with, from left: Daniel Bradford, Patrick Rue, and Tom McCormick at SAVOR in 2010.

Economic Impact Of California Beer

The California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA) recently commissioned an economic impact study of the state’s brewing industry for last year. And the news is pretty great. Here’s some of the highlights:

Economic Impact: In 2014 craft beer contributed more than $6.5 billion to the economy of California. That’s up 18% from 2013. That’s a fairly conservative number and they’ll have a more accurate and most likely higher numbers in June when the full report is finished. The craft beer industry in California has a higher economic impact than any other state in the US.

Employment: In 2014 Craft Brewers employed more than 48,000 Californians.

Growth: During 2014 the number of operating breweries grew by over 24% giving us a total of 520 operating breweries in California.

Taxes: In 2014 California craft brewers paid over $56 million in State and federal excise taxes and paid more than $1.3 billion in income and other local, state and federal taxes ($880 million in state and local income taxes and $465 in federal income taxes).

Production Volume: 3.5 Million Barrels

Exports: 1.3 million barrels. (That’s still higher than the total production of all but two other states (PA and CO)).


Misusing Data

As I’ve written time and time again, lying with statistics may not be the oldest profession, but it’s got to be pretty close. Alright, I may be exaggerating slightly. Modern propaganda and the P.R. machine got going around the time of the First World War, with many of the profession’s leading lights coming out of that time period — Edward Bernays, Walter Lippmann, Ivy Lee. But it’s a powerful tool of the propagandist today, especially the numerous prohibitionist groups and anti-alcohol organizations. So when I saw Think you drink a lot? This chart will tell you last month on the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, I noted it with suspicion and made a note to look at it closer when I had the time. What got my spidey senses tingling was the idea that “the top 10 percent of drinkers account for well over half of the alcohol consumed in any given year.” Here’s the chart the article ran, showing the data for that conclusion.


Although it shows the common Pareto Principle, it just didn’t ring true. That many people can’t, and don’t, drink that heavily. I knew there had to be another explanation for this data. And there is. Trevor Butterworth, writing for Forbes, did the heavy lifting on this one with his wonderful expose, When Data Journalism Goes Wrong. It turns out that when you drill down the data, looking at its source and analysis, things begin to unravel. Apparently the results of the original poll had the data manipulated by nearly doubling them to account for a perceived problem with under-reporting. To put that another way, the data was “fixed.” One of the problems with that (there are many, many, I’d say) is that people looking for data to support an agenda tend to seize on such manipulated data and pass it on, using it in their propaganda, and the mainstream media tends to fall for it uncritically, rarely looking at where the original information came from or how it was gathered. Happily, Butterworth does a good job of demonstrating where it all went wrong, and I urge you to read his entire When Data Journalism Goes Wrong. And a h/t to Maureen Ogle for sending me this. She knows me all too well.

Happy Labor Day: Beer Creates Jobs

Happy Labor Day everybody. I thought this was a good day to highlight a press release from the Beer Institute about “how one job inside a brewery supports another 45 jobs outside. From farmers to factory workers, and truck drivers to tavern owners, beer puts people to work.” It’s not just that breweries employ a lot of people — they do — but many more job are created beyond the brewery that might not exist were it not for the beer. As their research shows, for every job inside a brewery, there are 45 related jobs outside the brewery.


From the press release:

“Today we toast to the industry’s 2 million men and women who make it possible for Americans to enjoy their favorite beer,” said Jim McGreevy, Beer Institute President and CEO. “America’s preference for beer is a huge boon to the national economy and the American worker.”

According to an economic study jointly commissioned by the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association in 2012, U.S. brewers and beer importers are the foundation for an industry that employs more than 2 million Americans, directly and indirectly. Beer also contributed $246.6 billion to America’s economy and generated $49 billion in local, state and federal taxes.

A Beer Institute analysis showed that each job in a brewery supports other jobs in the agriculture, business and personal services, construction, finance insurance and real estate, manufacturing, retail, transportation and communication, travel and entertainment and wholesale sectors.

They also broke down the number of jobs flowing from beer for each state. Not surprisingly, California was number one, with 241,640 contributing over $34 billion into the economy. After California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois have the most beer-related jobs, but even in the smallest states, thousands of people are gainfully employed thanks to beer. The total number of jobs nationwide is just over 2 million with a total economic impact of almost $247 billion. To see it broken down even farther, including by state and Congressional district, check out Beer Serves America.


Happy Labor Day, the only this missing from this picture? Where are the brewers?


Who Exports Beer?

Today’s infographic is an interesting treemap created by the Observatory of Economic Complexity, a collaboration between M.I.T. and Harvard. This one, contrasting yesterday’s, shows the amount of beer exported by the nations of the world, with the size of their relative amount of exporting shown by the size of the rectangle.

Click here to see the treemap full size.

Who Imports Beer?

Today’s infographic is an interesting treemap created by the Observatory of Economic Complexity, a collaboration between M.I.T. and Harvard. This one shows the amount of beer imported by the nations of the world, with the size of their relative amount of importing shown by the size of the rectangle.

Click here to see the treemap full size.

The High Life: A Tower of Beer For Your Retirement

Today’s infographic is a funny one, created by Roth IRA to show just how much beer you could sock away if you “save just $1 per day starting at age 25.” I guess my tower would be significantly shorter. Called The Awesome Tower of Beer, which by age 70 would be 5,736 feet tall.

Click here to see the infographic full size.

Pine Street Brewery Needs Your Help

One of San Francisco’s newest beer companies, Pine Street Brewery, is building its own brewery and trying to expand its business. One of things they’re in desperate need of is tap handles and kegs. So they’ve turned to Indiegogo (a crowdfunding website similar to Kickstarter) to help raise the funds they need to grow. They’re offering various tchotchkes for different levels of financial support, as detailed in the Indigogo Pine Street Brewery web page.

With our recipes perfected and a commercial brewing space secured, we need tap handles and kegs to keep up with growing demand in San Francisco! With your help we can provide our city with enough green PSB handles to have our beer in every neighborhood.

We’ve brainstormed hard to come up with great incentives for your donations – just a small token of how much we appreciate your generosity. (Check the gallery for photos of the prizes: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/pine-street-b…). Your contributions will help us establish our presence in the city, and we hope you’ll be proud to say you helped make it happen!

The Pine Street Brewery founders.

The Pine Street Brewery Story

Our Story – Pine Street Brewery from Pine Street Brewery on Vimeo.