At CO2Meter, we’ve seen an ever-increasing number of craft brewers contacting us for CO2 safety alarms for use in U.S. micro-breweries. We shipped dozens of our RAD-0102 Remote CO2 Storage Safety alarms to brewers in 2015, and expect that trend to continue in 2016. According to the Brewers Association craft beer industry group, there are more than 3,400 breweries in the U.S.
While the logic of protecting brewery workers and customers from accidental exposure to high levels of CO2 makes sense, it got us wondering how the trend in micro-breweries in the United States got started. Fortunately, a recent paper titled, “Craft Beer in the United States: History, Numbers and Geography” published by the Journal of Wine Economics helped to explain this trend.
The paper starts out by noting that the number of craft brewers today closely resembles the product differentiation and fragmentation found in the wine industry. They argue the reasons for this increase in craft breweries include:
While craft beer’s market share continues to grow, it is still only a small portion of the industry. In 2014, nine companies controlled 90% of all beer sold in the U.S. According to MarketWatch, 1 in 5 beers sold in the U.S. is a Bud Light.
If you're a craft beer drinker, you should take a few minutes to read this paper. Although it is a scholarly article, it reads more like an early history of the industry, and it will make you appreciate how much effort (and a bit of luck) went into the craft-brewing industry we all enjoy today.