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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The New Brewery Tsunami

When I was compiling my pre-emptive football-attention-deflecting post yesterday, I had to try to figure out how many breweries are located in Alabama. The Brewers Association compiles a very handy list of each state's breweries, which made my task a snap. Even more handily, they list breweries in the planning stages, and I was struck by what appears to be a tsunami of new breweries ready to open. Alabama, for example has just six breweries, but seven more in the planning stages. I selected a few states at random as further examples:
  • Connecticut, six in the planning stages
  • Iowa, nine
  • Tennessee, eleven
  • New York, twenty-six
  • Colorado, twenty-nine
Of course, I had to check out Oregon, and consistent with the trend, twelve breweries are in the planning stages. The list:
  • Charlatan Brewing, Portland
  • Dexter Brewing, Portland | website
  • Dragon's Gate, Milton-Freewater | website
  • Noble Brewing, Bend
  • Occidental Brewing, Portland
  • Sasquatch Brewery, Portland
  • Workshop Brewpub, Portland
  • Unnamed brewery, Hillsboro
  • Four unnamed breweries, Portland
Holy doppelbock, that's a lot of new places! The Brewers Association currently lists about 1600 active breweries in the US. If this rate of new openings is typical, then the number of breweries could jump by a third in the 12-18 months. I will have to put my head to the question of whether this represents the natural evolution of a growing market or a brewery bubble (or both), but for the moment, I'll leave it at the observation stage.


  1. 2010 was the year of breweries being announced here in Texas, especially Austin. According to the BA site, 33 are in 'planning'. A good chunk of those in the Austin/Hill Country area.

    2010 saw 3 opening in Austin alone (2 production, 1 brewpub) with more on the way for 2011. Interested to see if this ends up being sustainable.

  2. It's too much. Waiting for the fall.

  3. There seems to be an interesting parallel going on between breweries and food carts in PDX these days - they can't all be good, and they can't all survive.

  4. I think it all depends on location. Bubble for sure in more populous states and the two Coasts but in places like Iowa there is plenty of room for expansion. I would bet that in the next five years we begin seeing more craft beer chains springing up, especially in the midwest where the culture is rather limited in scope but consumers are still willing to try anything new and modern-seeming, even if they're five or ten years behind the trend and the product has been corporatized.

  5. Hopheaven, I think you are onto something. I've been crunching the numbers this afternoon and I'm seeing lots of growth in sparsely-breweried states and more modest growth in brewery-rich places. (With some exceptions.)

  6. This is fantastic, though intimidating for those who want to eventually start their own.

    Tim Faith

  7. There's an Oregon twitter account called @MadronaBrewing. Is that one of your unnamed ones?

  8. Bend has a couple of other breweries in the works in addition to Noble. The Old Mill Brew Werks is hoping to produce their own brews - it's good-looking tap house right now - and Below Grade is something a former homebrewer is putting together.

  9. Can anyone explain to me why Salem can't have more (any)?
    Isn't Salem the most "underserved" city for brewpubs?