There’s an old idiom in Britain about seeking comfort by crying in one’s beer. With the newly released number on the surging growth of craft beer production and breweries, the big boys are likely able to empathize with that figure of speech. The new craft brew industry preliminary reports are out and Jacksonville is ahead of the craft brewing curve.
In their report on the craft brewing industry for the year ending in December 31, 2010, the Brewers Association based out of Boulder, CO estimated that there were 1,759 operating breweries in the United States. In and of its own that is an impressive number representing a 9.2% jump from the previous year, but in the year ending December 31, 2011 craft breweries numbered 1,989 for an astounding 11% increase over 2010. In Jacksonville, depending on how you look at it, we went from either two to three breweries, or two to four; the difference being whether you consider St. Augustine part of the Jacksonville area. The two breweries in place by the end of the year 2010 were Bold City Brewery and Intuition Ale Works. The two new breweries to the scene were Green Room Brewing in Jacksonville Beach and Mile Marking Brewing in St. Augustine. Which means Jacksonville saw either a 33.3% or a 50% increase in breweries in 2011.
But, local brewers are not content to stop there. By the end of the year Jacksonville will support at least two new breweries with Brewer’s Pizza Brewing just days away from obtaining their distribution license and Aardwolf Brewing hoping to open this year. And rumor has it there is at least one other brewery looking to find a home on the first coast. With all the activity, Jacksonville could be looking at seven breweries (not counting the mega brand brewery here in town) by the end of the year.
To put these numbers into a little perspective for you, Asheville, NC has claimed the title of Beer City USA from the Rate Beer website three years running, beating out great brewing cities like Portland, Denver, and San Diego. This was accomplished by a city that has only eight operating breweries to date. If Jacksonville scores three more breweries, we could reach elite status in the craft beer world by the end of 2012 and could share the type of recognition that is reserved for the top level beer cities.
What will the big boys do? Here’s hoping they continue to simply cry in their beer.