Craft brewing industry grew in 2018 but slower than past years

BOULDER — The country’s craft and independent brewing industry grew by 4 percent in 2018, down from 5 percent growth in 2017, according to a new report from the Boulder-based Brewers Association trade group.

Small and independent brewers collectively produced 25.9 million barrels of beer last year and accounted for 13.2 percent of the country’s entire beer market by volume. Craft accounted for about 12.6 percent of beer produced in 2017.

Retail sales for craft brewers totaled about $27.6 billion, which represents a market share of about 24 percent. Sales were up about 7 percent over 2017.

The craft-brewing industry employed more than 150,000 people in 2018, an 11 percent year-over-year increase in employment.

Craft maintained a fairly stable growth rate in 2018 and continued to gain share in the beer market,” Brewers Association chief economist Bart Watson said in a prepared statement. “Small and independent brewers continue to serve as job creators, strong economic contributors, and community beacons.”

But while the growth might be stable, it is occurring much slower than in recent years. The industry saw growth rates of 13 percent and higher as recently as 2015.

“The beer landscape is facing new realities with category competition, societal shifts, and other variables in play,” Watson said in a statement. “There are still pockets of opportunity both in terms of geography and business model, but brewers need to be vigilant about quality, differentiation, and customer service.”

BOULDER — The country’s craft and independent brewing industry grew by 4 percent in 2018, down from 5 percent growth in 2017, according to a new report from the Boulder-based Brewers Association trade group.

Small and independent brewers collectively produced 25.9 million barrels of beer last year and accounted for 13.2 percent of the country’s entire beer market by volume. Craft accounted for about 12.6 percent of beer produced in 2017.

Retail sales for craft brewers totaled about $27.6 billion, which represents a market share of about 24 percent. Sales were up about 7 percent over 2017.

The craft-brewing industry employed more than 150,000 people in 2018, an 11 percent year-over-year increase in employment.

Craft maintained a fairly stable growth rate in 2018 and continued to gain share in the beer market,” Brewers Association chief economist Bart Watson said in a prepared statement. “Small and independent brewers continue to serve as job creators, strong economic contributors, and community beacons.”

But while the growth might be stable, it is occurring much slower than in recent years. The industry saw growth rates of 13 percent and higher as recently as 2015.

“The beer landscape is facing new realities with category competition, societal shifts, and other variables in play,” Watson said in a statement. “There are still pockets of opportunity both in terms of geography and business model, but brewers need to be vigilant about quality, differentiation, and customer service.”