Great American Beer Festival

Great American Beer Festival Caps Off a Big Year for Brews

The beer industry celebrates some of the best varieties around as the number of breweries in America rapidly approaches an all-time high.

How do you cheer the rapid growth and rising popularity of the craft beer industry? By sampling lots of suds, of course!

The Great American Beer Festival, one of the Brewers Association‘s biggest annual events, concluded last week with an awards ceremony, at which 242 breweries were honored for their craftsmanship.

If you thought your event was trying, just attempt to put together the machinery needed to keep 60,000 attendees happy while judging a total of 6,647 beers.

Breweries ranging from the Large Brewing Company of the Year, Pabst Brewing, to the Small Brewing Company of the Year, Port City Brewing, as well as representatives of new categories, including session India pale ales and chili pepper beers, were all heralded for their excellence.

And the beer industry isn’t just winning critical clout. As it grows, it has begun to amass its political influence, with the Small Brewers Caucuses now including 152 representatives and 27 senators. These members receive educational briefings about craft-brewing issues and attend industry events. As a result, they are generally more in favor of legislation that benefits brewers.

An Ascent Worth Toasting

All of this celebration was happening alongside a big moment for the American beer industry: the announcement that the number of breweries in the U.S. is approaching its historical peak of 4,131, reached in 1873. At the current pace of growth, the current total is expected to pass that mark by early 2016 at the latest.

“This is a remarkable achievement that would have been unthinkable in late 1970s, when the number of American breweries dipped below 100,” Brewers Association economist Bart Watson wrote.

However, that doesn’t mean that the entire beer industry is turning to smaller breweries. For example, Anheuser-Busch InBev is working on a possible $70 billion takeover of fellow beer giant SABMiller, and concerns about the implications of acquisition of regional favorites by larger corporations, like in the instances of Elysian, Goose Island, and Boulevard Breweries, run rampant.

But for now, the beer is flowing, the honors have been awarded, and the suds industry appears far from any hangover.

(Photo © Brewers Association)

Morgan Little

By Morgan Little

Morgan Little is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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