Boulder, Colorado • April 28, 2009 – America's small and independent craft brewers (see Craft Brewing Statistics) are making special plans for the annual American Craft Beer Week (May 11-17), a national celebration highlighting the culture and contributions of craft beer. These brewers want the week to inspire beer enthusiasts to declare their independence by supporting breweries that produce fewer than 2 million barrels of beer a year and are independently owned. In the works are special brewery tours, beer and food pairing events, special release craft beers and festivals all across the U.S. The Declaration of Beer Independence is available on the program web site and the American Craft Beer Week fan page on Facebook, which has more than 2,000 fans thus far.
"Today, 97% of the more than 1,500 U.S. breweries are small and independent craft brewers. American Craft Beer Week, May 11-17, is a time to celebrate everything these breweries contribute to our country and culture, and to also celebrate the diversity of beer styles and brands available today," stated Julia Herz, a spokesperson for the Brewers Association.
Small and independent craft brewers provide nearly 100,000 jobs, and in 2008 the total taxable barrels of beer produced by craft brewers was 8,596,971. Additionally, many craft brewers go to incredible lengths and great costs to lessen their impact on their surrounding environment and community. Representing 4.0 percent by volume and 6.3 percent in dollars of the overall beer market, consumer interest in the craft sector continues to grow, but not without challenges. According to the Brewers Association, the cost of operating a small brewery has increased over 39% November 2007 to November 2008.
Today's craft brewers face many challenges including the following:
- Access to ingredients and raw materials
- Increased pricing for materials and supplies
- Access to market (competition for shelf space at the retail level)
In 2006, the inaugural American Craft Beer Week was recognized by the U.S. Congress with House Resolution 753 (PDF file). Since then, the week has continued to attract interest and support from beer enthusiasts and media with more than 180 brewery locations formally participating in 2008.