Growth continues across the craft brewing industry

Graphic for the annual production report.
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Hard to believe, but the numbers don’t lie. Growth has downshifted but it continues.

Today the Brewers Association released its Annual Craft Brewing Industry Production Report showing that jobs, on-premise sales, and the number of operating craft breweries continue to grow. The report is based on 2023 production data.

Yes, beer production and sales are struggling but this report shows some bright spots worth consideration. The industry is maturing. Many breweries are beginning to find their place in the new… the new new. The marketplace has changed, but craft brewers are nothing if not creative and agile. So, let’s take a look at things.

Highlights:

  • The number of operating craft breweries increased in 2023, reaching an all-time high of 9,683.
  • Throughout the year, there were 495 new brewery openings and 418 closings.
  • More jobs. Driven by the growing number of breweries and a continued shift to hospitality-focused business models, craft brewers directly employed 191,421 people in 2023, a 1.1% increase from 2022.
  • Collectively, small and independent brewers produced 23.4 million barrels of beer in 2023, a decline of 1.0% from 2022, though craft beer’s overall beer market share by volume grew to 13.3%, up from 13.1% in 2022 as craft’s declines were smaller than overall beer volume losses.
  • Want to compare this year’s report to last year’s? See the post we did a year ago.

“2023 was another competitive and challenging year for small and independent brewers,” said Bart Watson, vice president of strategy and chief economist of the Brewers Association. “Nevertheless, even as growth has downshifted, small brewers have proved quite resilient, as seen in the increase in number of breweries, relatively low closing rates, and gains in onsite sales and jobs.”


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Along with the Annual Production Report, the Brewers Association released its list of the Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies (by volume). Seattle’s Georgetown Brewing continues to move up the list. Based on 2023 production versus 2022 production, Georgetown moved from number 21 to number 16.

Tilray Brands, which bought several breweries from Anheuser-Busch last year, is considered a craft brewing company, so those breweries are back in the fold. When owned by A-B, they did not fit the Brewers Association definition of “craft brewer,” but now they do. Because of that, Tilray-owned breweries like Redhook, Widmer, and Ten Barrel are accounted for in the report under the Tilray umbrella, which ranks sixth on the list of the Top 50. Tilray operates eight breweries across the country, three of which are in the Northwest: Bend, Portland, and Seattle.


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TOP 50 CRAFT BREWERIES

List of the top 50 craft breweries in the country by volume.

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