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HOOPS ON HOPS: Craft beer report by the numbers

There are 15 states with more than 100 breweries and, yes, Minnesota is one of those. 2014 file / News Tribune

Greetings and happy spring to everyone. This week, I'm covering the incredible growth of small craft breweries in the United States. Perhaps a bit of a dry topic, but read on, you may be surprised.

Two weeks ago, I attended the Craft Brewers Conference, which was held in Philadelphia this year. More than 14,000 brewers attended. As a reference, my first time attending in the mid-'90s, less than 300 brewers showed up. In about 20 years, that's about a 4,500 percent increase. Locally made handcrafted beer has sure come a long way.

The Brewers Association (our national trade organization) defines craft breweries as:

• Small: Yearly production of 6 million barrels or less (a barrel is 31 gallons of beer, two standard kegs), which equals 12 million kegs of production or less. (That's really not all the small.)

• Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery industry is owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.

• Traditional: A brewery that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional and/or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. (Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer.)

So when people ask me, I usually say craft breweries are small businesses that use the highest quality ingredients, specializing in innovation and unique interpretations of traditional beer styles. This information is in no way meant as a negative perception toward big beer producers. I drink the big beers, as well. My goal here is to help beer drinkers understand the differences.

In 1976, there were a total of 50 breweries in the U.S. We are now over the 4,400 mark and still growing. Craft breweries are a real and interesting success story. We currently sport eight in the Twin Ports alone.

Twelve percent of all beer sold in America is craft beer, but 21 percent of money spent on beer is craft, so the price point is a bit higher because of high quality raw materials and small business models.

Craft breweries produced 48,153,728 kegs — yep, that's almost 49 billion — as a group in 2015. A very surprising number to me. They also exported 892,000 kegs outside the U.S. This is an exciting movement toward American craft beer emerging on the world market. It used to be the other way around with beer drinkers looking to imports for interesting and unique brews.

Here's a look at the most popular styles.

• IPA (India pale ale): 26.49 percent

• Seasonal: 13.96 percent

• Pale ale: 9.28 percent

• Variety: 6.98 percent

• Fruit/spiced: 4.98 percent

• Amber ale: 4.69 percent

• Amber lager: 3.83 percent

There are 15 states with more than 100 breweries and, yes, Minnesota is one of those, along with Wisconsin. We're lucky.

Here's a look at who's drinking craft beer.

• Millennials (born after 1982): 57 percent

• Gen Xers (born 1964-80): 24 percent

• Baby Boomers (born 1946-64): 17 percent

• Mature: 2 percent

• 75 percent of the drinkers are male

• 25-29 percent of women of legal age in the U.S. are drinking craft beer

The Craft Brewing Industry contributed $105.9 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015, and more than 524,000 jobs. In Minnesota, we stand at 2.7 breweries per 100,000 adults, with an economic impact of $1.4 billion.

The top five states in number of craft breweries are:

• California

• Washington

• Colorado

• Oregon

• New York

I enjoyed putting together the research for this article. The numbers are significant, and they really paint a story of this successful, growing industry in the Twin Ports, Minnesota and across the country.

Some closing thoughts on increased growth of craft beer. Twenty-five percent of women of legal age drink beer. I think that number will expand over the next decade, as beer continues to evolve in the public eye and grow toward the popularity of wine and spirits. In my research, I discovered that women influence 80 percent of purchases across all categories. So what you ladies, like sells! Interesting.

I also expect the continued consolidation of brands in the marketplace will bring more interesting beer brands from all over the country in more markets, and people everywhere will enjoy having a growing selection of quality, craft beer to choose from.

Thanks for reading, if anyone has follow-up questions or comments, please email me.

Sources: Brewers Association

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