The United States is home to thousands of breweries that produce hundreds of millions of barrels of beer each year.
Between 2008 and 2021, the total number of American breweries grew each year (even as the amount of beer produced annually in the US has declined since 2012).
In 2022, those breweries contributed over $2.7 billion in federal tax revenue, according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). That revenue is more than double the federal taxes on domestic and imported wine ($1.1 billion).
The vast majority of American breweries are small businesses — in 2021, 98% of them employed fewer than 100 people. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that American breweries employed 94,107 people in 2021, a 238% increase since 2001, and the Census Bureau estimated annual brewery payroll at $3.4 billion in 2020.
Beer production also impacts other industries, particularly agriculture — the Department of Agriculture estimates the economic value of hops grown for beer at $662 million.
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How much beer does the US produce?
American breweries produced almost 174 million barrels of beer in 2022 (just shy of 5.5 billion gallons) according to TTB reports. This number has gradually decreased since 2012, when they brewed over 196 million barrels.
TTB reports on beer “removed” from US brewery premises. (“Removed” beer is primarily sold — but it also can include beer donated for events or personal use. “Non-removed” beer is typically referred to by TTB as “Stocks On Hand” and can include beer that is awaiting packaging or delivery.) The vast majority of taxable removed beer in the US — 84% in 2022 — is packaged in bottles and cans.
Over the past decade, the amount of removed beer packaged in kegs, which are a larger format primarily sold wholesale, has decreased by more than 35%. The pandemic heavily affected keg production, as bars had prolonged closures and/or shut down. US breweries removed 7.5 million kegs in 2020, about half the number they removed in 2019.
There are two primary ways American breweries can produce and “remove” beer without paying federal taxes: designating it for export, or selling it directly to consumers in an on-site taproom. These options were growing in popularity before the pandemic: taproom sales removals, in particular, almost tripled between 2012 and 2016. But the pandemic also impacted both these removal types. Removals for export (3,626,775 barrels in 2022) are almost half what they were in 2018 (6,923,975 barrels), though the amount of taproom removals (119,767 barrels in 2022) is beginning to rebound.
What states produce the most and the least amounts of beer?
In 2022, Colorado breweries produced the most beer of any reporting state. It was also the lone state to produce more than 20 million barrels. Eight other states produced more than 6.5 million barrels: Texas, Ohio, Virginia, California, Georgia, Wisconsin, New York, and Pennsylvania. West Virginia breweries produced the least (10,384 barrels).
They may not produce the most beer overall, but several other states have recorded significant production increases between 2015 and 2022, bucking the overarching national trend.
Arizona, 1,942,831 barrels in 2022, up 1,128% since 2015
Rhode Island, 84,194 barrels in 2022, up 624% since 2015
Arkansas, 51,555 barrels in 2022, up 231% since 2015
Oklahoma, 67,941 barrels in 2022, up 221% since 2015
Sixteen states are home to over 100 breweries, led by California’s 524. Many states that lead in beer production are also home to hundreds of breweries with the major exception of Washington, which boasts 243 breweries (fourth-most in the US) but ranked 18th in production in 2022.
Since most breweries are small businesses, the number of breweries per capita is another way to assess their contribution to state and local economies. Vermont breweries produced 322,736 barrels of beer in 2022, ranking 21st nationally — but the state has 7.3 breweries per 100,000 people, the most in the US. During the first quarter of 2023, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Vermont breweries account for 523 jobs supplying over $5.4 million in employee wages. Montana (6.6) and Maine (5.9) rank second and third in breweries per person.
Where do Americans drink the most beer inside breweries?
Breweries made 119,767 barrels of beer for on-site taproom consumption in 2022, down from pre-pandemic highs (149,614 barrels in 2016) but a 30% increase from 2020’s 92,412 barrels. California breweries accounted for more than 10% of all beer sold in taprooms in 2022, the most of any state.
Laws on taproom sales and taxes vary by state. Still, eight states have doubled the number of barrels produced for taproom consumption since the pandemic onset: Idaho, Rhode Island, Maine, Oklahoma, Virginia, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts.