U.S. hits record-breaking 6,000 breweries in operation

The United States of beer // Photo courtesy of The Beer Dabbler

The United States of beer // Photo via The Beer Dabbler

Another year has come and gone, but not without craft beer industry hitting a record-shattering number.

The Brewers Association published its end of the year report, announcing that America has passed 6,000 total breweries, with 98 percent of them being small and independent craft brewers. Though the exact total has yet to be revealed, it’s at least 700 more breweries than the United States had in 2016 (5,301). Now that’s a lot of beer.

Craft beer isn’t just growing in big metropolises; its geographic reach has extended from coast to coast. “Today, 83 percent of the population lives within 10 miles of a local brewery,” says Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association, “meaning that the positive impact of breweries is being felt in communities all over the country.”

The BA’s Economic Impact Report, compiled every two years, stated that craft brewers contributed $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016—a whopping 21.7 percent bump from 2014.

Also notable is the estimated 1.1 million homebrewers through the nation. In 2017, homebrewers produced more than 1.4 million barrels of beer, the equivalent of one percent of the total U.S. beer production.

The economic effects of the craft brewing industry have also had an impact on policy in Washington, with the pending passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which is a part of the tax reform bill being considered by congress. Championed by representatives Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Ron Kind (D-WI), as well as Senator Bob Portman (R-OH), the CBMTRA was reintroduced in the 115th Congress last January, as has reached a majority of support in both houses. If the bill is passed, it will reduce the federal excise tax on the first 60,000 barrels of any domestic brewery, providing that it produces fewer than two million barrels a year.

“This has been an incredible year for the craft beer community with both challenges and successes,” says Julia Herz, the craft beer program director for the Brewers Association. “Emphasized more than ever before is the need to advocate for and educate beer drinkers on the importance and value of craft brewers to our nation and our culture.”