Data from the U.S. TTB on the number of permitted breweries hit another all-time high for 2016 with 7,190 total permits as of December 31, 2016. The new permit count means the TTB issued 1,110 new permits in 2016. While this count is slightly below the 1,142 new permits issued in 2015, it is still strong and is the third straight year the country added more than 1,000 newly permitted breweries. The brewery expansions parallel the business cycle expansion from 2010 to 2016 and stand out in an economy that has been sluggish and subpar relative to past business cycles. Despite all the negative rhetoric of the past six years, new breweries have continued to find growth opportunities in the beer market.
Around the country, the individual state counts exceed the U.S. total from just a few years ago. In California, for example, the total of 927 permits is almost as many as the entire U.S. total of 974 permits in 1995. Florida at 264 exceeds the 1990 national count of 250.
On a normalized basis, that measures breweries per 100,000 residents in each state, a lot has changed since the end of the 2010 recession for beer consumers as well. In 2010, there were 0.7 breweries per 100,000 residents at the national level. Today, that number stands at 2.2 breweries per 100,000 residents. Vermont stands out among all the states with the single highest breweries per capita at 11.7. Following behind Vermont, by a large margin, are Maine at 7.7, Montana at 7.6 and Colorado at 7.0. Around the country, per capita brewery measures in many states have more than tripled since 2010. In fact, only five states did not experience a significant (more than doubling) increase in breweries per capita from 2010 to 2016. With continued declines in per capita consumption for malt beverages in 2016 on the books, this year’s beer market is gearing up for another highly competitive, innovative and dynamic battle for share of mind, wallet and stomach.
At the same time, the TTB has lowered barriers to entry for new brewers by extending due dates for payment of excise taxes and eliminating the excise tax bond requirements to ease the upfront cash outlay for new brewers making less than 7,000 barrels per year.