US passes 4,000-brewery milestone

America now has over 4,000 beer breweries in operation, just tens short of its all-time record, the country’s Craft Beer Association has announced.

Bart Watson, chief economist at the Craft Beer Association (Photo: CBA)

Bart Watson, chief economist at the Craft Beer Association (Photo: CBA)

It is the first time that brewery numbers have been about the 4,000 mark in around 140 years, the association estimates.

Secondary sources say the high point of brewery numbers in the US was 4,131 in 1873. However, given the quickening rate at which new breweries are opening, a the record is expected to be broken in the next couple of months.

“Although precise numbers from the 19th century are difficult to confirm, this is almost certainly the first time the United States has crossed the 4,000 brewery barrier since the 1870s,” said Bart Watson, the Craft Beer Association’s chief economist.

“Given the strong pace of openings (an increase of 1.9 per day), it is likely that later in 2015, or early in 2016, there will be more active breweries in the United States than at any point in our nation’s history,” he said.

The speed with which independent brewing has swept through the US beer market has completely transformed the scene of just forty years ago.

Mr Watson said: “This is a remarkable achievement that would have been unthinkable in late 1970s, when the number of American breweries dipped below 100.”

The geographical spread of breweries has also been praised, indicating that the craft beer boom has been nationwide phenomenon not restricted to one part of the country.

The CBA says that 75% of Americans over the age of 21 live within 10 miles of a local brewery.

“The map of U.S. brewing has continued to diversify. There are now breweries in more than 2,000 unique cities across all 50 states,” Mr Watson said.

The definition of an active brewery is one that has been registered with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau (TTB). It discounts contract brewers, meaning it is for businesses that both produce and actively sell beer to consumers, the CBA said.

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