The statistics for 2015 craft sales have been released and there are really no surprises. Volume for the craft segment is now at 12% of the US market, a 13% increase over 2014, which translated to 24.5 million bbls and $22.3 billion. A nice increase over 2014 numbers which were 19% of the total dollars in beer compared to 21% in 2015, or just over one fifth of all beer sales.
The number of operating breweries jumped again, up 15% to 4,269 breweries. The total breaks down as follows: 2,397 microbreweries, 1,650 brewpubs and 178 regional craft breweries, an increase of 620 new breweries, with only 68 breweries closing. Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, and Texas led the growth with each state opening more than 20 breweries each.
The Brewers Association predicts more growth for crafts in the coming years. All of us in the industry agree, we just do not know how big that growth will be.
The craft segment has been around for a longtime, as have the imports. Growth for crafts accelerated once InBev bought AB. Both ABI and MC have lost millions in barrels since then, but trends could soon be changing once again.
In recent years, two trends in crafts have jumped to the forefront. One, the long tail of crafts have been the players who have produced the most growth; and two, the major crafts have sold either all, or a large part of their companies. A third trend is now emerging.
BrewDog, the UK based, highly successful craft which is building a major production facility in Columbus, has just filed with the SEC. Their intent is to offer over one million shares to the public. If fully subscribed, BrewDog will raise over 50 million dollars, most of which will be invested in brewpubs, marketing and expansion. BrewDog’s target is to sell over 85,000 bbls.in 20 states the first year! They are building a brewery with a capacity of over 100,000 bbls. The plan is to be at 1.5 million bbls!
BrewDog is the most ambitious, however, there are others with similar goals. Another new announcement, more along the line of a JV model, is the building of a brewery with Atwater and Flemish Fox, led by Christina Celis in Austin. The project capacity for this project will be near 60,000 bbls. with a 27,000 sq. ft. brewery, and anticipated to open next year.
In the Texas Hill Country, another brewery is currently close to being completed. Altstadt Brewing Co. in Fredericksburg will brew German beers under the direction of Peter Boettcher, a master brewer from Germany, previously of MillerCoors. Altstadt Brewing will also be a destination brewery with a capacity over 20,000 bbls, a restaurant, beer garden and meeting halls. The beer will be brewed under the Reinheitsgebot law using only the best ingredients. Altstadt is considering a German Kolsch, Lager and others including Alts and Radlers.
Rest assured, more of this business model will be coming in the near future. What beer is really seeing is not just the growth of craft, but the growth of beer, period. Heineken and Constellation, along with AB, MC and other new breweries see one thing: Growth in beer. The money is coming in because the opportunity is there.
If it looks like beer, smells like beer and tastes like beer, it is probably a beer!