Oregon's Nation-Leading Craft Beer Consumption

The annual Oregon Brewers Guild report for 2011 came out today, and it is full of the usual very positive numbers--lots of growth from lots of craft breweries.  I would like to highlight one stat, though, that is pretty amazing:
15.8 percent of the 2.712 million barrels of all beer - both bottled and draft - consumed in the state were made in Oregon.  For draft beer, that percentage is even higher, with Oregon breweries producing an estimated 42.8 percent of all draft beer consumed in the state. 
Now, Oregon doesn't have any industrial brewing plants--100% of our beer is from craft breweries*--so this means all 16% of that locally-brewed beer is "good" beer.  But it understates the total good-beer total.  Oregonians also drink quality imports and craft beer from around the country.  It may not push us all the way to 20%, but we're getting close.  

To put this in context, only 14% of Britain's beer is ale--everything else is what we'd call industrial lager.  Belgium is at about 30%.  The US consumes 195 million barrels of beer a year; if the country consumed the same amount of craft beer as Oregon, that would make craft beer a 31-million-barrel industry--three times the size it is today.  To riff off the day's earlier post, this is why I'm not worried.  There's nothing sacrosanct about pale industrial lager, and nothing particularly unique about Oregon's love of good beer (though I won't admit that on the record--Beervana rawks!).  If you take our state as a model, there's a lot of room left to grow.

*Craft brewery is a fraught term, but in Oregon's case every brewery has been founded since 1984 and is by any reasonable definition a part of the US craft beer movement.
Jeff Alworth2 Comments