Skip to main content

4 numbers that show how the craft beer industry is growing

The industry is still growing, though not quite as fast as before.

The craft beer industry continues to grow steadily, but there's more competition now.

That's according to Bart Watson, the chief economist at the Brewers Association – the trade group that represents small and independent craft brewers in the U.S. The group released data on craft brewing growth Tuesday.

Here's a look at the numbers, and what they mean for the craft brewing industry:


There were 5,301 breweries operating in the U.S. in 2016, which is up 16.6 percent from the year before. Of those, 5,234 are craft brewers (based on the Brewers Association's definition of one) – that's 99 percent of the beer production companies in operation last year.

Of the craft breweries, 1,916 are brewpubs (11 percent more than 2015); 3,132 are microbreweries (21 percent more than last year); 186 regional craft breweries (up 4 percent from last year).

In total, 826 breweries opened in the U.S. last year. Only 97 closed.

12.3 percent

Small, independent craft brewers make up 12.3 percent market share by volume of the overall beer industry. The graphic above shows how the volume share has changed since 2011, when there were 1,977 craft breweries operating in the U.S.

24.6 million

That's how many barrels of beer craft brewers produced last year – a 6 percent rise in volume. But that's slower than the 12-15 percent growth the craft brewing industry had shown in recent years.

"The era of 18 percent growth rate is probably over," Watson said during a conference call Tuesday, according to Fortune. "Having those growth rates in an industry of this size is impossible going forward."

The slowdown is partly because craft beer is so popular. This has led to large brewers buying up craft breweries to continue to grow their business – but when that happens the craft brewery is no longer considered "craft" based on the Brewers Association's definition.

The craft beer segment lost 1.2 million barrels last year from breweries that were purchased by the big guys, the Brewers Association says. But craft breweries made up for that by adding 1.4 million barrels, with microbreweries and brewpubs accounting for 90 percent of that.

"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," Watson said in a news release. "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."


That's how many jobs craft breweries provided last year, an increase of nearly 7,000 from the number of jobs there were in the craft beer industry in 2015.

You can read more about the growth of the craft beer industry in 2016 here.

Next Up

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Woman in critical condition after being shot in the head in St. Paul

Officers responded to the incident at around 2:45 a.m. Saturday.

Alexander Mattison

Vikings-Lions: 5 things you can count on

It's a great time for the Vikings to play the Lions.


Omicron variant confirmed in Wisconsin man who traveled to South Africa

Five other cases have been confirmed and linked to a Wisconsin wedding.

Sharon Mollerus - duluth - snow plow car

Sunday snowstorm walloping MN's North Shore with huge totals

Just ridiculous snow totals expected the rest of Sunday.

Screen Shot 2021-12-05 at 6.49.03 AM

Saturday snow causes havoc on Twin Cities roads

There were countless spinouts and crashes across Minnesota.

Kirill Kaprizov

Wild win battle of NHL's hottest teams, extend winning streak to six

Kirill Kaprizov delivered a shootout winner to take down the Maple Leafs.

Eric Kendricks

Vikings downgrade Eric Kendricks to out against Lions

The Vikings have also activated Michael Pierce from injured reserve.

u.s. attorney

Minnesotan sentenced after assaulting man with baseball bat

Marshall Wayne Boshey was sentenced to 30 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release.

Target store

Target's gift card discount is back, but for this weekend only

The fine print: for Target Circle members only (but membership is free).

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 7.11.05 AM

Minneapolis teen arrested in St. Cloud after fleeing police in stolen vehicle

The vehicle was stolen in a car-jacking in Minneapolis Thursday.


Beer drinker's lawsuit says Walmart's craft beer isn't actually craft beer

The lawsuit says Walmart's Trouble Brewing craft beer isn't legit.

3 MN craft breweries are among the largest in the country

It's a list of the 50 largest craft breweries, and three from Minnesota are on it.

You can only buy Summit beer in 5 states now

The craft brewery just pulled its beer from six markets.

Minnesota's breweries really started to 'grow up' in 2016

Oh, and everyone says the bubble doesn't exist.

New year, new beer! Here's what 2017 will taste like

Expect more barrel-aged and sour beers – after the past year was dominated by IPAs.

You'll soon be able to buy Fulton beer in the Big Apple

The brewery is expanding distribution to five new states.