Hearst is letting all but 20 journalists at their Seattle paperless go. Oregon’s unemployment is now in double digits. And on the sour notes sound…
Unless you brew craft beer. Then it’s all clanging bottles and the sweet roll of kegs. According to The Wall Street Journal the industry is stronger than ever.
Last year, even as a recession gripped the country, 114 microbreweries and brewpubs — restaurants that make their own beer — opened in the U.S., according to the Brewers Association, a Boulder, Colo., trade group. That marked the highest number since 1999. Openings are expected to decline this year, but start-up activity remains robust, says Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association. The group estimates 200 microbreweries and brewpubs already are on the drawing board for the next few years.
Beer is taking market share away from distilled spirits, and craft beer in particular is looking like an affordable luxury. “I’m finding that people who are used to drinking $15 martinis think a $5 pint of decent craft beer is pretty reasonable,” says Tracy Hurst, who with her husband Doug founded the Chicago microbrewery Metropolitan Brewing LLC.
It costs roughly $450,000 to $800,000 to start a small brewery, say entrepreneurs, and finding distributors willing to take on unproven brands can be onerous. Brewpubs can cost a few million dollars, depending on their size.
Last year, 42 brewpubs closed in the U.S., the most since 2005, the Brewers Association reports. But only nine microbreweries shuttered, the lowest figure since 1995.
There are 54 regional craft breweries operating in the U.S. today along with 377 microbreweries and 975 brewpubs, according to Wikipedia. Vermont, Maine, Montana, Oregon, and Alaska have the most craft breweries per million people.