It is a very exciting time for lovers of craft beer! We have more and more breweries and brew pubs are popping up all over the country every day, and here in Texas is no exception. Yesterday the Brewers Association released some very interesting numbers, but most importantly showed that as of the end of April there were exactly 2,051 breweries in the United States alone. This 2,051 is a very special number, because the number of non-craft domestic brewers is 51, so that means that we now have 2,000 CRAFT breweries! That means small, independent craft brewers out number the big boys 40 to 1. While our craft movement still only represents about 5% of the market by volume and 10% by dollar value, momentum is behind us.
Greg Koch from Stone Brewing Co tweeted this morning:
Craft beer is to the world of beer like rock & roll was to world of music. Now that it’s here, it will never die. Fans will becom legions.
Rock&Roll: “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.” CraftBeer: “If it’s too hoppy, you’re too owned by the corporate man.” What’s your phrase?
One of the things that really begins to put all this in perspective is that back in 1994, while I was a manager at Dallas’ first Brewpub Yegua Creek Brewing Co, there were only 500 craft breweries in operation NATIONWIDE. Two years later in ’96 we opened our first Flying Saucer in downtown Fort Worth, alongside 333 breweries opening in that year alone to bring the number up to 1,000. In 1999 we were expecting to build our 5th Saucer and my first son, Jake, as the brewery tally hits 1,500 for the first time. Then in 2001 things take a bit of a dip while natural selection weeds out some of the folks that got into brewing beer for the money rather than the passion for craft beer, and it wasn’t until 2008 that the 1,500 mark could be maintained.
Now, here we are. Breweries and better beer joints every where you look. People often refer to places like Goodfriend, Common Table, Libertine and Old Monk here in Dallas, Draught House and Black Star Coop down in Austin, Freetail in San Antonio and Hay Merchant and Petrol Station in Houston as our “competition”, but that’s not the case. We are all here on the same team raising awareness for this little thing called craft beer. Every man and woman we get to try something new, hand crafted and flavorful is another craft beer evangelist born from the ashes of a swill drinker.
So let’s all raise our glasses to Jack McAuliffe, Fritz Maytag, Ken Grossman, Jim Koch, Sam Calgione, Vinnie Cilurzo, Greg Koch, Adam Avery, Rob Tod and everyone else that has dedicated their lives to bringing joy to the world in a pint glass. But also to those that are just mashing in for the first time or shaking their yeast packet into their Mr Beer jug, unwilling to accept the lowest common denominator. Let’s all try a beer we’ve never had before and make sure that your friends do to. Share a prized bottle from your cellar with someone that can’t even pronounce the name right. Go to a bar and send a Victory Prima Pils or Real Ale Firemans 4 to a stranger drinking something ending in Lite, and of course, tip your bartender in the trenches well because we couldn’t have craft beer without them either.