Craft Beer’s Best Year Ever

THE CALIFORNIA CRAFT BEER boom is expected to intensify in 2015, with last year recording the strongest growth year ever. “We have seen year after year of strong craft beer growth,” says Tom McCormick, executive director of the California Craft Brewers Association.

California recently passed the mark of 500 craft breweries, the highest in the nation, with an additional 240 breweries planned. Last year alone, the number of operating breweries increased by more than 20 percent.

Our region’s highlights included the opening of Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co. in Nevada City, Knee Deep Brewing Co. expanding in Auburn, the formation of the Placer County Ale Trail, and ol’ Republic in Nevada City starting to bottle its beer.

California produces more craft beer than any other state—about 3.4 million barrels were produced last year. Sales of craft beer in California are up 21 percent compared to 18 percent nationally and now account for a 17 percent market share.

In addition, California breweries exported 1.2 million barrels of beer last year, more beer than most other states produce. The economic impact of California brewers in the state continues to grow, with breweries contributing $5.5 billion annually to the state economy.

Nationally, the number of craft brewery openings continues to grow. In November, it passed the mark of 3,200 brewers, and breweries are opening at a rate of 1.5 per day. In addition, more than 2,000 breweries are in the planning stage.

Other noteworthy trends in 2014 were the continued popularity of India Pale Ales, or IPAs, and the diversity of craft beer consumers. More women are consuming craft beer, almost half are women ages 21-34.

Beer at Farmers Markets
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation that allows the sale of packaged beer at certified farmers markets and allows beer manufacturers the ability to sell beer (and wine) on their own premises during private events. The demand for private events, including weddings at craft breweries, is becoming more prevalent.

AB 2004, authored by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D- Arcata), a craft beer mecca, had bi-partisan support and passed both the Senate and Assembly chambers without opposition. The measure went into effect on January 1.

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