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Small is the new IPA

Earlier today Brewers Association economist Bart Watson tweeted this:

“Small breweries are small. Looking at CA 2014 data: Breweries < 100 bbls = 144. 100 < breweries < 1,000 = 209. Breweries > 1,000 = only 122.”

If you break down the percentages that’s 30% under 100 barrels, 44% between 100 and 1,000, and 26% at 1,000 or more.

What does this mean? I don’t know. I’m not sure how much context taking a look at numbers from way back adds, but since I totaled them up . . .

In 1879 California had 195 brewers, with 24 selling less than 100 barrels, 118 between 100 and 1,000, and 53 more than 1,000. The percentages: 12%, 61%, 27%.

Of course, brewing was pretty new in California, less than 30 years old. New York breweries went much further back and there were more of them than in any other state.

So New York in 1879: 30 breweries under 100 barrels, 116 between 100 and 1,000, 219 above 1,000. That’s 60% of the breweries selling more than 1,000 barrels and almost 100 more than California today. Only 8% of New York breweries made less than 100 barrels, 32% between 100 and 1,000.

Could food trucks make that much difference?

4 Responses to Small is the new IPA

  1. Bill July 2, 2015 at 10:01 am #

    Can you make a living at such a small scale?

  2. Stan Hieronymus July 2, 2015 at 10:18 am #

    Oh, boy. More math.

    A barrel = 31 gallons, or 3968 ounces.

    3968 ounces = 248 16-ounce servings

    Obviously loss will reduce that. But let’s say you poured 200 servings at $5 each (both numbers could be low) then you’d generate $1,000 revenue per barrel ($100,000 for $100 barrels).

    Thus the wisecrack about food trucks. Build a good gathering spot, let somebody else take care of the food. Sell all your beer across the bar. Decide what sort of lifestyle you want to live.

  3. Jeff Alworth July 2, 2015 at 10:22 am #

    Which raises a separate question. If a 42-barrel brewery fails in California, will anyone hear it?

    • Stan Hieronymus July 2, 2015 at 10:28 am #

      When eight fail then you have a hand-wringing trend.

      A deeper analysis, which will not happen here, would include a look at what small breweries made in 2013 and what they expect to make in 2015.

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