Growth of US craft beer slows as ‘big beer’ snaps up brewers

29th March, 2017 by Lauren Eads

The US craft beer industry added 1.4 million barrels to its production volume in 2016, growing the segment by 6%, despite losing 1.2 million barrels to ‘big beer’ producers that have snapped up numerous craft brewers throughout the year.

Releasing its 2016 date on the US craft brewing industry The Brewers Association (BA), which represents small and independent American craft brewers, confirmed that 5,301 breweries were in operation throughout the year, representing 12.3% of the US beer industry.

This represented a 16.6% growth from the 4,269 breweries recorded in 2015, with 826 new brewery openings and only 97 closings in 2016.

In 2016, US craft brewers produced 24.6 million barrels, and saw a 6% increase in volume, adding 1.4 million barrels to its production and outpacing the 1.2 million barrels lost from the craft segment following the purchase of several craft brewers by large brewing companies, with microbreweries and brewpubs delivering 90% of the craft brewer growth.

The year saw an unprecedented amount of craft beer company purchases by big brewers, as they work to keep a handle on the growing craft beer segment.

In the US AB InBev has bought Houston-based Karbach Brewing Company and Virginia-based Devils Backbone, following earlier purchases of Goose Island, Blue Point, Elysian and Golden Road, while MillerCoors bought a majority stake in Georgia’s Terrapin Beer Co. in July.

‘Competitive landscape’

Globally, AB InBev most recently snapped up London-based craft brewers Camden Town Brewery and Italian craft brewer Birra del Borgo.

By value, the US craft beer sector achieved a 10% rise, with its value estimated at $23.5 billion, representing 21.9% of the US beer market by value.

While the sector was able to maintain growth, despite the loss of many craft producers to big brewers, this growth has slowed compared to 2015, which saw volumes and values rise by 13% and 16% respectively, compared with 2016’s 6% and 10%.

“Small and independent brewers are operating in a new brewing reality still filled with opportunity, but within a much more competitive landscape,” said Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association.

“As the overall beer market remains static and the large global brewers lose volume, their strategy has been to focus on acquiring craft brewers. This has been a catalyst for slower growth for small and independent brewers and endangered consumer access to certain brands. Small and independent brewers were able to fill in the barrels lost to acquisitions and show steady growth but at a rate more reflective of today’s industry dynamics.

“The average brewer is getting smaller and growth is more diffuse within the craft category, with producers at the tail helping to drive growth for the overall segment.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

PR Account Executive

Clementine Communications Ltd
Fulham, UK

PR Senior Account Manager

Clementine Communications Ltd
Fulham, London

Marketing Manager

Berkmann Wine Cellars
London, N7, UK

Brand Manager

Berkmann Wine Cellars
London, N7, UK

Sales Account Manager

Jascots Wine Merchants
London, UK

Marylebone Sales Manager

Philglas & Swiggot
Marylebone, London, UK

Area Sales Manager

Bon Coeur Fine Wines
North England, UK

Procurement Assistant – Wine

Adnams PLC
Southwold, UK

Account Manager Central London

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

Brand Ambassador

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

National Business Development Manager

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

Marketing Assistant

Hatch Mansfield
Ascot, Berkshire, UK

Marketing Manager

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

Regional Sales Manager – Scotland

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

The Global Sparkling Masters 2017

Deadline : 25th August 2017

The Global Malbec Masters 2017

Deadline : 25th August 2017

Global Chardonnay Masters 2017

Deadline : 1st September 2017

The Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters 2017

Deadline : 1st September 2017

Click to view more

The Global Rosé Masters 2017

With wines from the palest of pink to almost ruby red, bone dry to almost cloyingly sweet, reductively handled to barrel-aged, as well as gently spritzy to fully sparkling.

The Global Organic Masters 2017

The drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Organic Masters

The Drinks Business Awards 2017

Now in its 15th year, the db awards have become the most authoritative, internationally respected badge of achievement in the alcoholic drinks industry.

The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters 2017

the drinks business Hong Kong announces its first year of The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters.

Click to view more