Data from the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) show year-to-date brewery permit counts for June 2014 at 4,526. Active brewery permits are a unique way of looking at the industry. These counts represent all the individuals and businesses that are either currently brewing or actively seeking to start brewing beer. This figure is significantly higher than the 3,040 reported by the Brewers Association, with the clear difference being the 1,486 breweries that may just be starting to brew, have not reported any production or may actually be brewing but flying below everyone’s radar. With so many new breweries coming online every day, it is impossible to give a precise count. For comparison, the number of alcohol beverage wholesaler permits authorized by the TTB in 2013 totaled more than 25,000, an 8 percent increase over 2012.
No matter how you look at the data, this is simply an astounding figure. Consider that in 1995 there were fewer than 1,000 permits and, within a span of 20 years, permit counts have increased more than fourfold. It also is important to note that permits don’t always continue to rise unchecked. The number of permits fell from a high of 1,192 in 1999 and did not fully recover until 2008. The Gold Rush of the past five years is truly an anomaly within the context of the past 20 years.
One insight into the data is a state-specific review of rankings based on the statistic “permits per one million people” in each state. This is a simple per capita brewery permit count comparison between 1995 and 2014. In both 1995 and 2014, Vermont takes the top spot in the U.S. for the most permits issued per one million people – beating out both Colorado and Oregon in both years. Even more telling is the fact that the same 10 states are ranked in the top 10 list in both 1995 and 2014 with very little change in their order. The data show that these beer friendly states are good for brewers, distributors, retailers and consumers.
To receive additional information on brewery permits, please contact NBWA Chief Economist Lester Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.