The Number of Breweries in California Reaches an All-Time High
The number of breweries in the United States is growing rapidly nationwide. In 2015, there were more than 4,100 breweries throughout the U.S. This number surpassed the historical record number of breweries that was set more than one hundred years ago in 1873. Since this century-old record was officially broken in 2015, the number of U.S. breweries has only increased. Statistics from 2016 report that the number of breweries in the United States rose to more than 5,300 between 2015 and 2016. Although craft breweries are on the rise nationwide, the growth of breweries is highest in California.
California is one of fifteen states in the country—along with Washington, Oregon, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, etc.—that houses more than 100 breweries inside its state lines. In 2014, California was second in line among these fifteen states—behind Pennsylvania only—for producing the most beer in the nation. Craft breweries in California produce more than 3.3 million barrels of beer per year. California residents aren’t the only ones who can’t get enough of the beer brewed at California breweries. Of the more than 3.3 million barrels of beer produced in California annually, almost 1.2 million of these barrels are exported. The amount of beer exported from California breweries per year surpasses the total annual production of beer in forty-five states.
The Exponential Growth of Breweries in California and Nationwide
The increase in the number of craft breweries in the United States—and especially in California—is astounding. It’s plain to see from the statistics regarding beer production and exportation in California that the beer brewed in California craft breweries is highly sought after nationwide. Therefore, the rapid exponential growth of the number of breweries in California isn’t surprising. Since 2012, the number of breweries in California has tripled from approximately 300 to more than 900 active breweries in the state. These breweries continue to multiply, with more than 100 new breweries opening their doors in 2017.
The Economic Impact of California Brewery Growth
The rising number of breweries in California has had and continues to have a major impact on the state’s economy. In fact, craft breweries in California are now a $7.3-plus billion industry.
The profits and success of craft breweries impact the state’s economy in a positive way. In 2016, California craft breweries paid almost $1.5 billion in taxes. Plus, more than 50,000 California residents are currently employed full-time at craft breweries and earn a decent living wage of $55,000 on average.
The Rising Popularity of Neighborhood Craft Breweries
There is a reason why the number of breweries in California has increased so much within the past few years. The growth of small, independent craft breweries began as a trend with a cult following and was initially thought to be a phase that would die down quickly. On the contrary, the demand for craft breweries has only intensified and has led to more and more local brewing companies cropping up in neighborhoods across the state.
The majority of consumers who drink craft beer prefer to buy locally made beer. They are also more likely to buy beer from a small, independent brewery than from a large corporation that mass produces the beer they sell. The clear preference for locally made beer among consumers has contributed to the growth of breweries as a whole in California. Many breweries that open in smaller towns and cities are now able to support themselves due to the increasing demand for localized beer.
Breweries as Unifiers for Communities
Residents of California don’t have to travel very far to get a taste of their favorite beer from a craft brewery. Due to the explosive growth of the craft brewery industry in California, more than ninety percent of California residents now live within ten miles of the nearest brewery.
Craft breweries are no longer confined to cities and areas with high population levels. Today, craft breweries in California act as unifiers for communities across the state. Many members of California communities view their neighborhood craft breweries as refreshing alternatives to the norm of giant, impersonal corporations. These small, independent, often family-owned breweries add life and vibrancy to communities while also encouraging community involvement and providing employment for local residents. Many neighborhood brewing companies have become a place for members of the community to relax and socialize. Many of these breweries even support aspiring artists by displaying local art or offering entertainment opportunities for local musicians.
The values of the California neighborhood brewing companies that have gained so much popularity and contributed to the growth of breweries statewide are encapsulated well by Inland Wharf Brewery in Southern California. They are based in the mid-size city of Murrieta, California, produce unique, award-winning beers, and engage the surrounding community by hosting regular events like trivia nights. Listen to how they got started below!