So, here we are, post #100. Some awesome stuff coming up in the near future. Our next Brewery Profile is in the works - and I'm really excited about it. We have an interview next week with Lucy Saunders, beer-cook extraordinaire. Wha? Beer? Cook? mmmmm.... We interviewed her about her upcoming beer and cheese tasting at Fromagination (fruit ales and mixed-milk cheese). So, that's coming up next week. Spring has sprung, so they say, and we will be putting up some reviews of those spring-time weizens and wheat ales, and pale ales.
In the meantime, the Brewers Association has released some of its statistics on the craft beer industry. Some pretty exciting stuff - assuming of course, you geek-out about statistics like I do. Did someone say r-squared? Ooooo...baby...talk dirty to me. Ummm... yeah, hi, I'm back. Sorry. Where was I? Right. Statistics. Well, as you can see from that little pie-chart (see? beer. pie. the food connection is laid bare at last!) on the left there, pretty interesting, don't you think? The most interesting part of it that I see is that bigger-than-50% chunk labeled "brewpub." We know how the state of Wisconsin defines brewpub. But, how does "the industry" define it?
Brewpub: A restaurant-brewery that sells 25% or more of its beer on site. The beer is brewed primarily for sale in the restaurant and bar. The beer is often dispensed directly from the brewery's storage tanks. Where allowed by law, brewpubs often sell beer "to go" and /or distribute to off site accounts. Note: BA re-categorizes a company as a microbrewery if its off-site (distributed) beer sales exceed 75 percent.So, rather than focus on how many barrels per year a brewery produces, like the state of Wisconsin, the industry focuses instead on what percentage of beer is sold on-site versus off-site. This seems like a far better metric to define a brewpub. For instance, you could be as big as you like, but as long as your on-site sales don't exceed 25% of your total sales of beer, you are not a brewpub. This would allow breweries like Tyranena or Lakefront or Milwaukee Ale House to have small restaurant facilities without being labeled a "brewpub" and falling under the brewpub laws.
Anyway, what this pie-chart shows us is that over 50% of all of the breweries in the United States sell greater than 25% of their beer on-site. In raw numbers this is pretty astounding. That means that there is a lot of local beer out there. Breweries that are representin' their blocks, yo. Breweries where the only way to get their beer is to walk in the front door and order it from a bartender. Breweries that are literally serving their communities. In the interest of full disclosure, however, if you look at the list of all of the breweries in the United States, you will find that some brewpubs are chains where each member of the chain is considered a separate brewery.
Even despite this, the sales of beer from brewpubs represent less than 9% of the craft beer sold in the United States and less than .35% of all beer sold. In fact, all craft beer only represents 3.79% of the beer sold in the United States. Last year there were 211,489,982 barrels of beer sold. 96.21% of it was sold by 43 of the 1449 breweries in the United States. In other words, 3% of the nation's breweries account for over 95% of the nation's beer. This, to me, seems to show a huge opportunity.
In fact, last year the craft beer segment grew an astounding 12%. This is compared with 1.4% growth by those other 43 breweries and 1.4% growth for imports. Of course, 12% of next-to-nothing is still next-to-nothing. But, as we saw above, there's a lot of room for growth. Given the fact that the whole industry is only expanding by 1.4% (coincidentally, only .5% higher than the population growth of the United States), we can safely assume that the industry has reached its saturation point. There are approximately 211.5 million barrels of beer that can be sold in the United States most of which (96% actually) is nothing more than liquid marketing. There's no reason why all of it can't be sold by quality breweries serving their local communities.
By the way, of local note: 3 of the 50 largest breweries in the United States are in Wisconsin (Miller, Minhaas, and New Glarus) - one of which doesn't even distribute outside of the state. 2 of the 50 largest craft breweries are in Wisconsin (New Glarus and Capital). You'll notice Leinenkugel's is nowhere to be seen - you would find them represented in Miller Brewing Company's number.