The days of the craft beer sector as a fad are over and it has become a mature industry. Spectacular year-over-year growth is probably a thing of the past, however, and beer makers have to come up with ways to grow market share. (These are America’s oldest beers.)
To determine the most popular craft brewers in America, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a list ranking brewing companies by sales volume in 2022, published by the Brewers Association, a non-profit trade organization serving small and independent American breweries.
The Association defines a craft brewery as a small independent beer producer, specifying that “small” means that it makes no more than six million barrels a year and “independent” means that less than 25% of the operation can be owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
The Brewers Association report said in 2022 that small and independent brewers collectively produced 24.3 million barrels of beer, about the same as in 2021. Craft’s overall beer market share by volume rose very slightly, to 13.2% from 13.1% the prior year. The number of operating craft breweries in the U.S. continues to grow, however, reaching an all-time high of 9,552 in 2022. (See which ones produce one or more of the 30 best beers in America.)
Click here to see the most popular craft beers in America
Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s chief economist, cites rising operating and material costs, increasing competition, and distribution concerns as challenges to the industry. “In this maturing and competitive market, collective growth for the category is hard to come by,” he says.
Unless craft brewers grow through acquisitions (see Tilray Beer Brands, below) or combine operations to gain economies of scale like the new IndieBrew (see No. 45), craft brewers might have to settle for more incremental growth. Watson notes that for breweries to move up on the list of top producers organically, they’ll need to “create new occasions and new beer lovers to find growth.”
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