Craft Beer Growth Continues Rapid Acceleration In 2013

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The Brewers Association today released the preliminary numbers for beer sales last year. I thought last years numbers were great, but the 2013 numbers look unbelievable, and accelerate the momentum for craft beer. The preliminary numbers indicate that “craft brewers saw an 18 percent rise in volume, representing a total of 15.6 million barrels, and a 20 percent increase in retail dollar value.”

Here’s more on the news, from the press release:

In 2013, craft brewers reached 7.8 percent volume of the total U.S. beer market, up from 6.5 percent the previous year. Additionally, craft dollar share of the total U.S. beer market reached 14.3 percent in 2013, as retail dollar value from craft brewers was estimated at $14.3 billion, up from $11.9 billion in 2012.

As for the runaway brewery count, the number of breweries races closer to 3,000.

The number of operating breweries in the U.S. in 2013 totaled 2,822, with 2,768 of those considered craft, demonstrating that craft breweries make up 98 percent of all U.S. operating breweries. This count includes 413 new brewery openings and 44 closings. Combined with already existing and established breweries and brewpubs, craft brewers provided 110,273 jobs, an increase of almost 2,000 from the previous year.

And here’s all of that good news, fermented into a colorful infographic.

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Beer Excise Tax Rates by State, 2014

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The last time I saw the Tax Foundation look at beer excise taxes was in 2009, but recently they updated their map of Beer Excise Tax Rates by State, for 2014, taking into account several states who changed their rates over that time.

Tax treatment of beer varies widely across the U.S., ranging from a low of $0.02 per gallon in Wyoming to a high of $1.17 per gallon in Tennessee. Check out today’s map below to see where your state lies on the beer tax spectrum.

A few state rates changed since we released last year’s data. Namely, North Carolina’s tax per gallon increased by nine cents, and there were slight increases in Arkansas (+2 cents), Kentucky (+2 cents), and Washington, D.C. (+2 cents). Washington’s tax decreased by 50 cents, and Minnesota’s number was one cent lower than last year. (See the 2013 edition of our Facts & Figures booklet for last year’s numbers.)

There isn’t much consistency on how state and local governments tax beer. This rate can include fixed-rate per volume taxes; wholesale taxes that are usually a percentage of the value of the product; distributor taxes (usually structured as license fees but are usually a percentage of revenues); retail taxes, in which retailers owe an extra percentage of revenues; case or bottle fees (which can vary based on size of container); and additional sales taxes (note that this measure does not include general sales tax, only those in excess of the general rate).

The Beer Institute points out that “taxes are the single most expensive ingredient in beer, costing more than labor and raw materials combined.” They cite an economic analysis that found “if all the taxes levied on the production, distribution, and retailing of beer are added up, they amount to more than 40% of the retail price” (note that this may include general sales tax and federal beer taxes, which are not included in the estimates displayed on the map). Last year, we did a podcast with Lester Jones, Chief Economist at the Beer Institute on tax treatment of beer, which is worth a listen.

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Serious Eats: 50 States, 50 Beers They Like

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Everytime someone creates a list of the top anything, there’s always a bit of a backlash over the choices, or methodology, or something. It’s hard — strike, that — impossible to please everybody in these sort of things. People love lists (I know I do) but picking the “best” is a fool’s errand. So I appreciate that Serious Eats didn’t even try. Instead, when they chose one beer from each state, they didn’t declare them to be the top, or the best or even the most popular. For their 50 States, 50 Beers We Love, they just chose ones that they … well, loved. They may not all have even been their favorites, though I think we can infer that some of them may be a favorite. It’s a list you can’t argue with, because there’s no aggrandizing or sweeping pronouncements. It’s just what they like, pure and simple. As such, I think it has a great chance of provoking discussion, because if you love a different beer you’re not saying I disagree, you’re saying I also love this beer, too.

Take my home state of California. They chose Russian River’s Pliny the Elder. And it’s hard to argue with that. I love that beer, too. Is it the best beer in California? Who cares? It’s a great beer among probably hundreds of other California beers that I also love and could easily have made the list.

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So check out their choices. Or as they put it. “This map celebrates beers we love in every state—a beer we’d be certain to pick up at every stop on that road trip of our dreams. Some are cultworthy favorites that require camping out at the release party, while others are really well made porch sippers that you can pick up at your local store. Some evoke happy memories, while others are showstoppers that grab your whole attention.”

And start working on your list of beers you love. That’s a list I can get behind. Plus, I love this flag that Robyn Lee created for the article. This is a flag I’d run up the flagpole and although I probably wouldn’t salute it, I would drink a toast to it.

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Number Of Breweries In America Reaches 2700

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The Brewers Association released preliminary numbers for how many operating breweries there were in the United States as of the end of last year. That number, the highest since America’s peak in the 1870s, was 2,722. That’s nearly 400 more than at the end of 2012. Those are broken down as follows.

  • Regional breweries: 120
  • Microbreweries: 1376
  • Brewpubs: 1202
  • Large breweries: 24
  • Total: 2,722

From the press release:

98% of these breweries were small and independent craft breweries. It is interesting to note that 2013 marks the first year since 1987 that microbreweries outnumbered brewpubs in the country.

The total of 2,722 brewing facilities is the highest count since the US in around 140 years, more than when the country celebrated her centennial birthday. In 1876, the Register of United States Breweries lists 2,685 breweries. It is not however, the highest number of all-time, as the Register lists 3,286 in 1870.

In addition to the 2,722 brewing facilities, there were an additional 1,744 breweries in planning at the end of December, the highest year-end number in the BA database.

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Federal Beer Tax Bills Compared

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Motley Fool has an interesting overview and comparison of the two bills regarding the restructuring of federal beer excise taxes currently before Congress, and likely to be resolved this year. The two bills, known as the BEER Act and the Small Brew Act (which Motley Fool calls the “Small Beer Act”), are both designed to reduce federal excise taxes, but in different ways, benefitting different size breweries differently. Which bill, if any, will pass is anybody’s guess at this point, but check out Beer May Be In For a Tax Break — Why This Could Be Bad for Some Brewers for one financial website’s take on them.

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Dunedin’s Mobile Brewhouse On Wheels

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My friend and colleague, Gerard Walen, has an interesting story on CraftBeer.com about a mobile brewery that drove from Florida to Oregon. In Collaboration On the FL-ORegon Trail, Walen details the rolling brewery built by the Dunedin Brewery and its journey to Oregon, and then on to Denver for GABF. Check it out. Gerard can normally be found on Road Trips For Beer, and recently finished the Florida Breweries book in the same series as my northern California guidebook, which will be published this April.

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The Mobile Brewhouse.

Prohibition Did What?!

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Today’s infographic, since today is the day in 1933 when the 21st Amendment passed, repealing Prohibition, is one I’ve posted before, entitled Prohibition Did What?! It goes in to many of the effects that Prohibition had on the country, none of them particularly positive.

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Click here to see the infographic full size.

Handy Drinking Laws

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Today’s infographic is an overview of drinking laws in the United States created by Medical Insurance.org, although the website no longer seems to work. To be fair, it appears to be from around 2007, and shows an interesting quartet of U.S. maps illustrating different aspects of alcohol laws followed by a list of control state info and sale hours by state.

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Click here to see the infographic full size.

Peek Analytics Interactive Beer Map

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Today’s infographic is an interactive beer map of “the consumer followers of over 2500 beer and microbrewery Twitter accounts.” It was created by PeekAnalytics, who “is an enterprise-class social audience measurement platform that provides rich demographic insights to marketers allowing them to better identify and qualify social consumers. What Nielsen® does for television and radio audiences – PeekAnalytics does for social.”

The default map is the New York City area.

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But you can “discover the most popular beer in over 15000 cities across the US, Canada, the UK, and Ireland” using their interactive map. Here, for example is California.

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And here’s the greater Bay Area.

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But check out your own city using PeekAnalytics Beer Map.