Sorry, even more diversions from Big Beer Week(s). I know. But bear with me for a bit and we'll get back to that. The most recent Industry numbers were released and I wanted to go over them with you.
In 2009 the US added 57 new breweries, all of which are considered "craft breweries" by the Brewer's Association. We won't really get into what the BA considers to be a "craft" brewery, that is a horse that has been flogged long after it was dead.
In an absolutely dreadful economy, craft beer still managed to produce 7.2% more beer and 10.3% more dollars than 2008. This is despite an overall decline in the general beer market of 2.2% and a decline in imports by 9.8%. Craft beer now represents 4.3% of the volume share for beer, and 6.9% of the beer dollars.
I'd be interested to see those numbers broken out by region. I suspect that we here in the Midwest drink far more than 4.3% of the volume of our beer in craft beer. Here in Wisconsin I'd think that number would be even higher, possibly well over 10%. That's just based on empirical evidence, I have no numbers to back me up. But, consider the success of Spotted Cow here in Wisconsin. If you are in the rest of the Midwest consider the ubiquity of breweries such as Great Lakes, Bells, Goose Island, and Summit. These are all craft breweries. You'd be hard pressed to find a bar anywhere in the Midwest that doesn't have at least one tap, let alone bottles, dedicated to one of those.
But we can do better. And we should be doing better. I spoke with Kirby Nelson, Brewmaster at Capital Brewery, and he related a tale of visiting Point Brewery in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He went into a local bar and noticed that there was no Point on-tap. How can a bar in Stevens Point, Wisconsin not serve Point Beer on tap? How can a bar in Spring Green not carry Furthermore? How can a bar in La Crosse not carry Pearl Street? And on down the line.
One tap is not enough. Because that tap is going to be Spotted Cow. That's a given. But craft needs two or three or four or five taps. And, no, Miller Beer's Leinenkugel brand doesn't count. You'd be hard-pressed to find a corner of this state that does not have a true craft brewery in it. We all have local breweries. Support them. They employ your neighbors and put tax dollars in to your schools.