View Full Version : Northern Beer Blog - Pubpaper 805 – UK vs US Craft Brewing Scene

Blog Tracker
22-04-2015, 21:19
Visit the Northern Beer Blog site (http://www.seanliquorish.co.uk/blog/?p=1853)

I’ve discussed over the last few weeks the Craft Beer sector of the market and several times I’ve mentioned that to see where the UK craft beer scene will go, it is good to look at a country about 10 years ahead of us when it comes to the craft scene, this country being the USA. *In the States there is an organisation called the Brewers Association who represent large craft regional brewers, microbrewers and brewpubs. *The rules of its craft brewer designation are simple; that you produce less that 6 million barrels of beer a year (less than 3% of US market), you are less than 25% owned by mainstream brewer; the majority of its total beverage output is via beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation.
The growth of craft beer in the states really started in 1985, at that point there was only 110 brewers in total across the whole of the the country. *Over the next 14 years that number multiplied by a factor of 15, with 1500 brewers operational by 1999. *The number of new brewers then stagnated for about 8 years hovering around that same 1500 figure. *However in 2007 an explosion started, four years later in 2011 the figure had risen past the 2000 brewery mark. *It only took just over another 2 years in early 2013 to reach 3000 brewers and in the following year another 462 brewers started up operations.
Put this into perspective, at the start of Brewing Association records on the number of brewers in the country in 1873 there was 4131 brewers recorded. *At this rate the USA will surpass this number in the next 3-4 years. *This number in 1873 was an historical high for the era between then and now. *The US brewing industry nose dived after this year for just under a decade, losing nearly half of the brewing operations in 1873. *The period from 1910-1920 was disastrous for the industry with numbers falling from 1568 to 669 brewers, the following year was prohibition and the registered numbers of course hit zero. *After alcohol was legalised again in 1933 numbers hit about 800 brewers by the start of the next decade. *This figure gradually drifting down to the figure I started this with in 1985.
In 2014, the scene is quite interesting in America, of the 3462 breweries (or 1 brewery per 92,000 people), only 46 are non craft breweries, of the remainder 135 are big enough to be classed as regional (producing more than 15,000 barrels), 1871 are microbreweries (producing less than 15,000 barrels) and 1412 are brewpubs (where at least 25% of production is sold on site). *The rate of closure of such breweries is low as well, with 7 brewpubs opening for every one closing in 2014 and 23 microbreweries opening for every one which closes. *Brew pubs of course are exposed to the risks inherent with production and retails operations, so the higher rate is no surprise.
Taking a similar set of UK based numbers (the best figures come from Society of Independent Brewers). *Brewpubs are not as popular in the UK as in the US and in no way make up nearly over one third of all brewing operations. *Looking at microbreweries as per the 15,000 barrel limit in America, the responses to this survey would put about 87% of brewers in this category (lumping in the small number of brewpubs with the pure brewing operations, deducting a few percent*for the large national brewers and those small operations owned by them). If you assume this over the 1,285 breweries in the UK, then it mean that about 1100 of them are microbreweries, a healthy segment of the market. *The good news is that we have more brewers per capita with one brewery for every 50,000 people or to put it into perspective an average of 4 “breweries per Calderdale” (pop. 204,000), showing Halifax and the surrounding area punches well above its weight when it comes to beer production. *Our growth in the number of brewers is similar to that post 2007 in the US as well, another good omen.
The big difference between us and the USA is that their definition of craft is purely numerical and puts many of the brewers we’d simply call “Small to Medium” sized breweries who we’d not consider anywhere near “craft beer” into that category. *Is this a bad thing, not in this writers eyes, craft is a label and is being diluted by mainstream*brewers every day. *It will become meaningless in the next decade or so unless we adopt a precise measure of the term. *Are we following the USA for its good points in developing a craft beer market, absolutely and if we develop our brewpub market as they have that would be no bad thing at all.

More... (http://www.seanliquorish.co.uk/blog/?p=1853)