America has a lot of breweries. According to the Brewers Association (BA), the number crossed 2,000 in 2011, crossed 3,000 in 2013, crossed 4,000 in 2015, crossed 5,000 in 2016, crossed 6,000 in 2017, and crossed 7,000 in 2018. The growth has been massive, but it’s also been predictably steady. If America ends 2019 with 8,000 breweries, that news will probably be met with a shrug. But that doesn’t mean noteworthy numbers can’t still be found, and California just passed a milestone that’s worth our attention: It’s the first state with over 1,000 breweries.
The California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA) says the state officially reached the 1,000 operating independent breweries mark as of this month – by far more than any other state. By comparison, looking at 2018 data from the BA, California finished last year with 841 craft breweries. Colorado was second with 396, and Washington was third with 394.
Of course, California is also the most populous state, and when you look at breweries per capita, California moves towards the middle of the pack, ranking 28th as of 2018. Still, the CCBA points out that 95 percent of California residents now live within 10 miles of a neighborhood brewery. And 1,000 breweries as a milestone isn’t one to scoff at: The United States as a whole had fewer than 1,000 breweries as recently as 1995.
“Craft breweries are locally owned businesses which benefit their community with jobs, charitable giving, economic growth and provide a gathering place for their neighborhood,” Tom McCormick, executive director of the CCBA, said in the announcement. “Our role at the CCBA is to protect and grow the craft brewing and small business community which has become so important to California’s cities and local communities.”
For those looking to celebrate, the CCBA also added the reminder that its annual Summit Beer Festival is taking place on September 14 in Long Beach and will feature 170 California craft breweries pouring beer. Sure, that’s only about 17 percent of the breweries in the state, but it will have to do.