Though the beer industry as a whole is still experiencing declines in both production and profitability, the Brewers Association (BA) reported Aug. 6 that the craft beer segment is going strong. The BA is the trade association that represents the majority of the craft beer brewers in U.S. The report released Monday shows dollar sales for America’s small and independent breweries were up by 14 percent in the first half of 2012. The report also showed that volume was up 12 percent during the same period.
Paul Gatza, director, Brewers Association says consumer demand is the major contributor to the continued growth of the craft beer industry. “It’s a fact,” he said, “That beer drinkers are responding to the quality and diversity created by small American brewing companies. India pale ales, seasonal beers, Belgian-inspired ales, and a range of specialty beer are just a few of the beer styles that are growing rapidly.”
Locally, Jacksonville brewers are feeling the increase in demand as well.
Ben Davis of Intuition Ale Works has been looking for a second brewery location for several months. The current King Street brewery is operating at capacity and running out of work space. Recently Intuition Davis has investigated building a new brewery on the north bank riverfront of Jacksonville, but has been met with opposition from the city. Of the explosive growth in his business, Ben says, “We are experiencing 170 percent growth and could do more if we had more fermentation capacity.”
Other breweries experiencing growth include Bold City Brewery and Green Room Brewing Company at Jacksonville Beach. Bold City increased their capacity just a year or so after beginning operations to keep up with the demand put on them by local bars and retail outlets. And just recently the Green Room purchased several new fermentation tanks to help increase their ability to brew more of their popular brews.
Nationally craft beer breweries are experiencing astounding growth as well.
Oskar Blues Brewery, based in Longmont, Colo., issued a press release recently stating that their revenue was up 53 percent over the first six months of last year and that depletions in established markets were up 47 percent. Growth has been so explosive at Oskar Blues that they recently decided to build another brewery in Brevard, N.C. The 30,000 sq. foot brewery will expand the company’s brewing capacity to nearly 140,000 barrels and is scheduled to come online in December of this year.
According to the BA press release, there are now 2,126 breweries in the U.S. – an increase of 350 additional breweries since June 2011. Over 96 percent of the breweries, or 2,075 of them, are craft breweries.
According to Gaza, breweries are popping up at a rate faster than any time since Prohibition ended. “There is nearly a brewery opening for every day of the year benefiting beer lovers and communities in every area across the country.”