As a nation, the U.S. now has more beer styles (150+) and brands (20,000+) to choose from than any other market in the world. As of early 2018, more than 6,000 breweries are responsible for the beer brands available in the U.S. These breweries have had many successes and challenges, but they could not have developed their reputations as producers of the world’s best beer without support from beer lovers.
According to the Brewers Association, the sales volume of craft beer in 2017 was 25.35 million barrels, an increase of 5% year-on-year, which was slower than the growth in 2016. Craft beer in the U.S. has entered the maturation phase. In 2016, it bid farewell to the rapid growth during the past few years and witnessed a year-on-year increase of sales volume by 6%, compared with 13%, 18% and 18% in 2015, 2014 and 2013 respectively.
Although the growth has slowed down, craft beer still performed much better than the entire beer market. Last year, the sales of U.S. beer market fell by 1%. The sales volume of craft beer contributed 12.7% of the total beer market, and its value of sales reached $26 billion (an increase of 8% year-on-year), which accounted for 23.4% of the total sales amount of the entire beer market.
Microbreweries (with an annual output of less than 15,000 barrels) and brewpubs contributed 76% of the increase in the sales volume of craft beer. In other words, compared with national craft beer brands (such as Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada) and regional manufacturers, consumers may prefer local microbreweries.
In 1975, the first bottle of American craft beer Anchor, which means "freedom", was produced. American craft beer brewers pour the spirit of freedom into every bottle of their beer. They would add coffee, cheese and even pepper and other flavors into the beer, making American beer with unique tastes become popular brands in no more than 41 years. A large amount of hops are used in producing American beer, so you will feel its strong foam stability, quite delicate taste and the unique aroma of hops.
(1) Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Sierra
Nevada Pale Ale is a remarkable beer: Groundbreaking upon its release and still a critical and commercial darling all these years later, the beer’s focus on American hops has established it as the country’s signature pale ale. (Last year, Statista ranked it as the 19th best-selling beer in the U.S.) “When we first brewed our pale ale in 1980, we knew it was a departure from what was available, but as serious home brewers, it was what we and our friends loved to drink,” explains Ken Grossman, founder and owner of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., about his humble homebrewing roots that have resulted in a brand worth an estimated $1 billion.
(2) Sam Adams Boston Lager
The big breweries “spill more beer than I make all year,” Jim Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Company, famously espoused in early ads for his brand, Samuel Adams. For many drinkers in the 1990s, that imagery of spilled beer was their first occasion to consider the idea of craft brewing, then warmly referred to as microbrewing. But in an ironic twist, it was Samuel Adams’s massive growth that made the brand so important to small brewers everywhere. As the company’s flagship Boston Lager went on to become one of the first independently-made brews to be ubiquitous on beer lists. Today, the Boston Beer Company is America’s largest modern craft brewery.
(3) Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout
Today, it seems like every brewery displays a stack of wooden barrels in its taproom, showing off forthcoming barrel-aged creations. But back in the ‘90s, it was unusual to barrel-age beer. “The first time Goose Island brought Bourbon County Brand Stout to the Great American Beer Festival, we entered as an Imperial Stout, as there were few categories in 1995,” explains Gregory Hall—the former Goose Island brewmaster who created what’s considered to be the first whiskey barrelaged beer and currently the man behind Virtue Cider, an equally forward-thinking Michigan cider brand. “The beer was a hit, but it was DQ'd for being too strong, with notes of barrel and bourbon.” he says. But Hall took a larger lesson from BCBS’s unfortunate first appearance at GABF. “I argued that making a great beer should be the point, rather than following style rules better than the rest,” he says. “Innovation is what makes American craft beer the best in the world. It's true in every other industry in America.”