Craft brewers now account for almost 13 percent of beer sales in US

WASHINGTON — There were 6,266 craft breweries in the U.S. at the end of 2017, up from 5,424 at the end of 2016.

Small and independent craft brewers now account for 12.7 percent of the U.S. beer market by volume.

Craft beers are generally premium-priced beers and, as a result, they also represent 23.4 percent of the beer industry’s retail dollar value, according to the Brewers Association.

In its annual report, the Boulder, Colorado-based association said craft brewers produced 25.4 million barrels in 2017, a 5 percent rise in volume on a comparable basis.

The number of operating brewers in the U.S. grew by 16 percent in 2017, including both independent and major breweries, the grand total reached 6,372 breweries.

Throughout the year, there were 997 new brewery openings, and 165 closings.

The Brewers Association also said craft brewers supported more than 135,000 jobs last year, an increase of more than 6,000.

“Beer lovers want to support businesses that align with their values and are having a positive impact on other local communities and our larger society,” said Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association.

“That’s what small and independent craft brewers are all about,” Watson said. “The ability to seek beers from small and independent producers matters.”

Earlier this month, the Brewers Association released its annual rankings of craft brewers, by production volume.

The highest-ranked D.C. area craft brewer is Frederick, Maryland-based Flying Dog Brewery, which climbed from No. 32 in 2016 to No. 28 on the list of largest craft brewers in the U.S. last year.

Dogfish Head, brewed in Milton, Delaware, just outside of Rehoboth Beach, ranked No. 12 on the 2017 list.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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