At the Craft Brewers Conference in early May, Brewers Association Director, Paul Gatza, reported that the number of breweries-in-planning had jumped from an estimated 915 at the end of 2011 to 1,119 as of May 1st. Last week, Beer Marketer’s Insights relayed from Gatza that the number of breweries-in-planning has since climbed further to 1,252.
That’s an increase of approximately 50 new companies declaring their intentions to start brewing operations each month, or over 600 this year, with no slowdown in sight.
To put that in perspective, there were just over 500 breweries-in-planning as of the end of 2010. By the end of 2012, we might reach 1,500. And to steal a term I already used once this week, that is hockey stick-like growth.
Compare that to the number of net U.S. brewery openings…
The Brewers Association reported 250 openings in 2011 (213 net breweries when combined with closings) with the final tally at 1,989. As of early-mid July, that number increased to 2,125, a net increase of 136 breweries in just over six months.
What does it all mean?
The indication at the halfway point is that we will beat 2011 in terms of increase in net breweries. For those who remember and liken what’s happening now to the mid-90s boom, it means that 2011 is not 1996. That year, the U.S. picked up a net gain of 293 breweries before the annual net gains tapered off and then flatlined for several years beginning in 2000.
As far as breweries-in-planning, the number coming into the fold this year could be as much as 2.5 times the net openings.
Looking into the crystal ball, while seemingly unfathomable, the number of breweries-in-planning could pass the number of existing breweries in a few years. Again, only if these rates continue. If it were to actually come to fruition, we’d be in the ballpark of 3,000 breweries and 3,000 breweries-in-planning by then.
It makes you wonder how much of a backlog would build up at the federal and state levels in terms of administration. Not to mention, the plethora of logistical challenges (and opportunities) awaiting industry stakeholders in the future.