Sunday, April 19, 2009

Craft brewing makes strong showing

As economic health has declined, the U.S. craft-brewing industry is fit, strong, and growing.

Craft brewing is doing very well across the U.S., according to recently released statistics from the Brewers Association.

In one respect, the statistics don’t matter. The beer business tends to keep jogging along even when other economic sectors are panting and doubled-over.

“I don’t want to say beer is recession-proof, but it certainly stands up among consumables,” said Pete Velez, chief brewer at Gordon Biersch Restaurant Brewery at The Market Common on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.

Recent statistics underscore beer’s thriving place in our economy.

Sixty-one brewpubs opened in 2007 in the U.S., and the same number opened in 2008, according to the Brewers Association.

Fifty-seven microbreweries opened in 2007, followed by 53 a year later.

The statistics on closings provide a sharper focus.

Fifty-three brewpubs closed in 2007, while only 42 closed in 2008.

Twenty microbreweries closed in 2007; only nine closed in 2008.

Look at this way – in 2008 alone, while the economy started getting sick, the U.S. had:

-A net gain of 19 brewpubs, and

-A net gain of 44 microbreweries.

The Brewers Association also said 1, 483 U.S. craft breweries were operating in 2008, an increase of 63 from the previous year. That figure combines regional craft breweries, microbreweries, and brewpubs.

When so many other industries are suffering layoffs and closings, the beer industry is as healthy as ever.

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