US craft beer sales rise as breweries fall

American craft beer sales grew by 8% in 2017, but the number of breweries that closed nationwide jumped by nearly 70%.

Beer sales from independent craft breweries reached $26bn last year, giving it a 23.4% share of the American beer market, according to an annual report from the Brewers Association, the trade group for the sector.


Bart Watson, chief economist for the BA said: “The numbers represent positive growth at a time when non-craft-brewing interests - particularly international brewing conglomerates like Anheuser-Busch InBev and global spirits makers like Constellation Brands - continue buying formerly craft breweries, eating into craft brewing's market share.

“The slower growth volume also indicates a maturing industry in which 6,260 breweries were operating at the end of last year - a 16% growth from 2016. Growth will become more incremental because of the larger base of production and revenue.


"It suggests we're stabilising.”


He acknowledged that the 165 closings of craft breweries nationwide last year - a rate of 2.6% of total breweries across the US - is a significant change from what has been seen in recent years.


While the BA continues to study the reason for the bump in closings, preliminary investigation showed that increases in rent or issues with landlords seeking different uses for the property, particularly in crowded and high-cost markets, was a factor.

Watson added: “Some small and relatively new breweries also shut down quickly when they saw the amount of work it takes to compete today.

“Those small breweries still have much room to grow, however. A full 75 percent of the breweries in the United States make up less than 1 percent of the production volume nationally.”