Cheers: Here’s Why Today Is a Good Day for a Beer

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Looking for a reason to tip one back tonight? Maybe you can celebrate this huge milestone for American brewers.

It’s official: 2015 is the best year for beer in America. Cheers!

The number of U.S. breweries hit a record at 4,144 this year (as of the end of November), and the number is growing by the day, according to a new report from the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade association for small and independent American brewers. That’s the most breweries to call the U.S. home since 1873, when America boasted 4,131 breweries.

“This is a remarkable achievement, and it’s just the beginning,” Bart Watson, Brewers Association chief economist, said in a statement. “Beer has always been a hallmark of this country and it is even more apparent today as America’s beer culture continues to expand.”

American breweries today are quite different from the tiny, local operations that dotted the U.S. landscape in 1873. The small breweries reached their heyday in the late 1800s, after which their numbers dwindled – the result of decades of consolidation and later, Prohibition, says a report by Money.

“The low point was the 1980s, when there were fewer than 100 brewing operations in the U.S.,” Money explained.

Click here for an interactive timeline from the Brewers Association, which provides a detailed look at the evolution of U.S. breweries from 1873 to 2015.

Here are some highlights from the Brewers Association report:

  • Growth: Brewery openings in the United States now exceed two a day.
  • Top beer: IPA is growing faster than the overall craft category, according to the Brewers Association. It remains the top beer type sold by independent craft brewers.
  • Big beer states: “Fifteen states are now home to more than 100 breweries: California, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Indiana,” the association said.

While sales of U.S. domestic beer brands, including Budweiser, Miller and Milwaukee’s Best, have slumped in recent years, craft beer sales are up. And Watson said there’s still lots of room to grow.

“There are still thousands of towns currently without a brewery—but with populations potentially large enough to support one,” he said in a press release. “With beer lovers continuing to desire more full-flavored, innovative options from small and independent local breweries, ample opportunities exist for well-differentiated, high-quality entrants in the marketplace.”

My home state of Montana is a big beer drinking state. In fact, when it comes to craft beers, Montana boasts the fourth most breweries in the United States, per capita. I live in a town of less than 10,000 people, and even we have a local brewery.

Bottoms up!

Check out “Many Drinkers No Longer Pop a Top on These 7 Beers.”

Are you a craft beer drinker or a domestic beer drinker? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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