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Monday, October 3, 2011

Planned Brewery Growth, Part 2

Anyone who follows this blog will recall my Sept. 22nd post on planned new breweries. The premise of that post was that the bulk of craft beer brewery growth (craft is the only segment of beer that is growing) is occurring in areas that are currently and historically under-served. Here's a link back to that post, if you haven't read it.

I intended to get back to that topic sooner than this, but events intervened. The original post contained only a general accounting of where the new planned breweries are located. It's worth taking another look at the data, which reveals some interesting things.

First, take a look at map below. This is the baseline, showing areas with high and low concentrations of existing craft breweries. This map isn't the easiest to read, but my re-creation isn't any better. So this is it.

The main points are clear enough: All of the deep South is woefully under-served  There is a lot of population there and not that many breweries. Then you've got the Midwest and Atlantic Coast, including New York and New Jersey. Again, lots of people and not all that many breweries, per million folks

Then you have the flip side of the coin, which is the concentration of craft breweries in the Northwest, Colorado, Wyoming, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. Most of these states aren't very populated. Wyoming has less than 600,000 people; Vermont just over 600,000; Montana less than 1 million; Maine,1.3 million. These states look good on the baseline graph because they have a few breweries and not many people. Oregon and Colorado are off the hook because both have populations and many breweries.

Now dial in the map below, which shows where the high and low growth areas are for 2011. A few things jump out:

Texas and Florida, both in the lowest category on the first map, show dramatic growth. Texas is the second largest state by population, Florida is fourth. The high number of planned breweries is good news for deprived beer lovers in these states, although it likely won't change the states' positions much on the first map due to their huge populations.

California, the largest state in population, already has a fair number of breweries (282). The 97 planned breweries there may seem like a lot, but really isn't given the enormous population. I'm going to guess that even with 97 additional breweries, California still won't catch up with Oregon, Montana, Wyoming or Colorado in breweries per million people.

The same holds true for the relatively high growth in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia and Illinois. All of these states have large populations and have been late to join the craft beer revolution. You have to believe demand will support continued growth in these areas for quite a few years.

Finally, you have Colorado, ranked 22nd in population and already possessing a fairly high concentration of breweries. They are set to add 51 more. What? That's right, 51 more. Which seems a little wacky to me. If all those breweries open, Colorado will have 181 according to the numbers. Oregon, with roughly a million fewer people than Colorado, has 112 breweries and 16 planned. I'm not sure what to make of this. It seems crazy. Maybe it's just that Colorado is beer crazy.

Nonetheless, the areas of high growth seem well-positioned. Looking at the map, you would hope to see big growth in the South, the upper Midwest and the Northeast, particularly New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. For the most part, that's exactly what you see. The numbers for Texas and Florida are huge, obscuring to some extent the lack of progress in other southern states.

Clearly, there are some states where the revolution has not caught on. Mississippi, with 2 current breweries, has plans for 3 more; Arkansas, with 4 current breweries, has plans for 4 more; Oklahoma, with 11 current, has plans for 3 more. You can't help thinking some of these states are lagging behind due to wacky alcohol laws leftover from Prohibition and, perhaps, earlier.


  1. Good point. Everyone's wondering if there are too many breweries coming along, in fact that's the question posed in Andy Crouch's article in this month's Beer Advocate that just arrived at my house yesterday. But if the new breweries are in places that need them, it should be fine.

  2. I just read Crouch's column tonight. He mentions 725 as the number of new planned breweries. The updated number via the Brewers Association is 756. Not a huge difference. As my post implies, it looks like most of the high planned growth is in places where they need it. The exception is Colorado. If there's an unsustainable bubble, that's where it is.


Keep it civil, please.