Now is perhaps the best time in American history to be a beer drinker who appreciates delicious, locally brewed beer. The decades-long rise of craft beer practically exploded in recent years. America is now home to well over 5,000 breweries. Our interactive maps below reveal the data behind what craft beer in America looks like in 2017.
The interactive visualization on this page requires a modern browser. Get one here!
Craft Breweries Per Capita (100,000 21+)
Number Of Craft Breweries
Barrels Of Craft Beer Brewed
Barrels Growth 2011 - 2016 (%)
The State Of Craft Brewing In America
How do you sum up the state of craft beer in 2017? It's complicated. On the one hand, we're seeing more and more craft brewers selling out to big beer. On the other hand, craft beer is still on the rise. The New Brewer, published annually by the Brewers Association, put it succinctly in their 2016 report: "1.2 million barrels of volume that were [considered craft beer] in 2015 are now owned by the big guys. In spite of these newer headwinds, craft volume grew by 1.4 million barrels in 2016."
A closer look at those 1.4 million barrels reveals that craft beer's growth is fueled by America's microbreweries and brewpubs. Meanwhile the "big" regional craft brewers had a year most would probably like to forget — 15 of the top 25 brewers saw their volume decline last year. Those figures come straight from The New Brewer, which is published by the Brewers Association.
Earlier this year Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Company wrote a letter to the New York Times, lashing out at big beer as the source of his company's recent woes, but the data doesn't lie — large craft breweries are facing just as much competition, if not more, from below, as they are from above. Turning away from a business perceptive, this means that things couldn't be better for the average craft beer drinker. We're living in a time of more and more delicious, locally brewed beer, from brewpubs, micros, and in addition, the Sierra Nevadas, the New Belgiums and yes, the Boston Beer Cos of the world.
We'd like to let the maps above speak for themselves, but there are a few important things you should know when looking at state-by-state figures. Pennsylvania and Ohio are home to many craft breweries; they're also where the Boston Beer Co. produces most of its beer. Yuengling produces a lot of beer in Pennsylvania, but they've only been considered craft since 2014 and were responsible for a big "rise" in both Pennsylvania and Florida's production during the five years our growth map covers. North Carolina and Virginia are home to thriving craft beer scenes. They're also increasingly home to second breweries belonging to Colorado/West Coast stalwarts including Sierra Nevada Brewing, New Belgium Brewing, Oskar Blues, Stone, Deschutes, and Green Flash Brewing.
In addition to our maps, we feel it's worth taking a longer view. The chart below shows just how far craft beer in America has come. As for Big Beer? It's a long way down from here...