Craft Beer Consumption Hits 15% in Oregon

The estimable Brian Butenschoen, Director of the Oregon Brewers Guild, may produce the best state-level craft beer data in the US. For an old researcher like me, getting his annual state of the state report is always catnip. Lately, it's all great news--but there's one eye-popper in the numbers that has my chin dragging the ground. First, the set up:
The Oregon Brewers Guild announced today that Oregon’s breweries crafted 1,085,000 barrels (or roughly 270 million pints) of beer during 2010, a 3.5 percent increase from the previous year. Retail sales of Oregon-made beer sold in the state totaled approximately $235 million in 2010. In total, the brewing industry contributes $2.44 billion to the state’s economy. Despite overall weak employment figures for the year in Oregon, the state’s brewing companies added 200 jobs in 2010 and directly employed more than 4,900 people.

Portland, Oregon currently has 40 breweries within its city limits, more than any other city in the world. The state of Oregon has 91 brewing companies operating 121 brewing facilities in 50 cities.
Mmmm, sweet, sweet stats. But then there's the pièce de résistance:
Roughly 14.4 percent of the 2.7 million barrels of all beer - both bottled and draft - consumed in the state were made in Oregon. This is the highest for any state in the United States and was a 16 percent increase from 2009.
Brian is interested in how much Oregon beer Oregonians drink, not how much craft beer. But of course, the Oregon craft market includes beer from the rest of the United States, which means it's somewhere north of 15%. This is three times the national average. Moreover, Oregon now produces about a tenth of all the craft beer brewed in the US (over a million barrels of roughly ten million sold in the US in 2010).

These are pretty remarkable numbers. I've always felt that a five percent market share is a tenuous position. It's not enough to ensure anything more than a niche position, and with a shift in trends, could easily head the other direction. At 15-20%, you begin to hit a tipping point where craft beer is no longer a niche and where it's difficult to imagine it evaporating anytime soon. Congrats to the Guild, its members, and all the people who deliver and serve good beer in Oregon. You are way, way out in front.