How Committed is Your State to ‘Drinking Local’?

buy fresh-local-farmers market-local beer-beer(1)

By now it’s probably no surprise: people love to drink at brewery taprooms.

The opportunity to get fresh, from-the-source beer is always a big draw, but there’s certainly an additional layer of excitement about visiting the physical space itself. It’s a deeper connection to the liquid in the glass.

In many places, it’s also simply part of the drinking culture.

Recently, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) released a new set of statistics related to beer: the aggregated data of sales state-by-state. The information includes numbers from 2010 to 2015, highlighting the breakdown of sales related to bottles and cans, barrels and kegs and “premise use,” the stuff that’s sold on-site and tracked by the TTB. This particularly relates to the “rise of own-premise” business models I wrote about for Good Beer Hunting.

Because of the qualitative and quantitative evidence that consistently appears related to greater customer interest in on-site drinking, I wanted to see if parsing the numbers might offer any new insight into how things look on a state-by-state basis.

Programming note: because of quirky interpretations of policies, business practices and state law, numbers reported to the TTB may not always be 100 percent, guaranteed accurate. In conversation with Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s economist, he pointed out to me that reported premise use numbers are likely lower than reality. All the same, I’m taking the figures at face value for purposes of this post because it’s the data presented.

Cultural Impact

It’s impossible to deny that in several states, the act of going straight to the source for beer has become part of the culture for local residents. We often hear about people living in San Diego, for instance, taking advantage of the more than 100 beer-making businesses in the county alone. To put actual numbers to this, I pulled the information for states we may most closely associate with this behavior, using Brewers Association-defined craft breweries..

For example, here’s the data from California:

2014 2015 Percent Growth
No. of breweries 431 518 20%
Own-premise barrels sold 66,582.57 121,961.79 83%

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Golden State drinkers keep California as the top premise-use sales state in the country, a number that is certain to grow as it surpassed 700 total in-state breweries this past summer.

But what’s really interesting is California’s comparison to another beer-loving state. Despite having roughly half the number of breweries in 2015, Colorado had nearly identical on-site sales:

2014 2015 Percent Growth
No. of breweries 235 284 21%
Own-premise barrels sold 75,759.99 120,964.79 60%

Maybe it’s all those biking trails that lead straight to breweries?

Those state figures may not come as anything new, but what really interested me were states that might also attract a large number of tourists. In a previous post, I highlighted the very real financial impact of beer tourism, which is most definitely felt in states like Oregon:

In the most recent (2014) survey by Travel Portland, a tourism office for the Oregon city, results showed that 11 percent of US adults visited Portland for a leisure trip in 2013 or 2014 … Among those who visited, 68 percent participated in some beer-related experience.

Despite just a 5.5 percent growth in number of breweries from 2014 to 2015, own-premise sales more than doubled:

2014 2015 Percent Growth
No. of breweries 216 228 5.50%
Own-premise barrels sold 35,542.33 86,834.95 144%

You can also find this kind of drastic contrast in Vermont, land of Hill Farmstead and Heady Topper:

2014 2015 Percent Growth
No. of breweries 40 44 10%
Own-premise barrels sold 2,786.29 10,846.17 289%

And to a lesser extent, Washington:

2014 2015 Percent Growth
No. of breweries 256 305 19%
Own-premise barrels sold 18,363.50 43,219.71 135%

And here’s a fun and perhaps unexpected one, Montana:

2014 2015 Percent Growth
No. of breweries 44 49 11%
Own-premise barrels sold 6,203.14 26,374.60 325%

A common denominator for all these states would certainly be their unique beer cultures, which are deep and ingrained in each state’s connection to food, beverage and “what’s local.” Some of these brewery numbers are so large, the percentage growth remains relatively low, but there’s no denying how impressive the actual sale of pints looks.

Programming note: Because some of the jumps in on-site sales seem drastic from 2014 to 2015, I emailed the TTB to ask if any reporting or data collection changed. If I hear back, I will update this post with that info.

Growing Interest

While some states have always had great interest in their own beer scene, it’s easy to see that kind of attention spreading to other areas across the country. The number of breweries is growing everywhere and with it, the number of people checking out these new additions to their community.

To better understand this change, I tracked the top-15 states for on-site sales based on numbers reported to the TTB. Using all six years of data offered by the organization, here’s what a year-to-year chart looks like, highlighting the up-and-down shift of states. Note the key of this chart, which uses red to indicate a year-to-year drop, yellow to show an increased rank, but one for a state already on the list, and blue to show a new appearance in the top 15:

breweries-and-on-premise-top-15-states-yty

Obvious note on the quirkiness of reporting, as mentioned above, as Illinois somehow took over the top spot from California and Colorado solely for 2014. I have a note in with the TTB communications staff to help clarify this instance.

Aside from that, I’d like to draw your attention to the column for 2015, where we see four new states appear in the top-15. This is an important aspect to recognize, as it clearly helps illustrate the new brewery and beer cultures expanding in states like Texas, Florida and others.

Also, shoutout to Michael Uhrich for this addition regarding state-by-state growth:

Adding Capacity

To help reinforce this idea, I pulled two collections of states to focus on the increased number of breweries, as reported to the Brewers Association, and the total barrels sold on-site at breweries.

From 2014 to 2015, here are some of the top states in terms of percentage growth of breweries, according to numbers collected by the Brewers Association:

State 2014 Breweries 2015 Breweries Percentage Growth
Texas 117 189 61.5%
New Jersey 32 51 59%
North Carolina 101 161 59%
Virginia 78 124 59%
Maryland 40 60 50%
Indiana 80 115 44%
Minnesota 73 105 44%
Arizona 53 78 40%
Florida 111 151 36%
Tennessee 39 52 33%
Michigan 159 205 31%
Pennsylvania 136 178 31%
Ohio 110 143 30%
Iowa 46 58 26%
Wisconsin 97 121 25%

Additionally, here are the same states with percentage growth of own-premise barrels sold, using figures from the TTB:

State 2014 Barrels Sold 2015 Barrels Sold  Percentage Growth
Texas 9,848.20 62,622.83 536%
Florida 7,140.24 35,277.93 394%
Iowa 5,775.54 17,917.21 210%
New Jersey 6,060.97 18,359.01 203%
Minnesota 12,806.87 35,898.89 180%
North Carolina 18,424.66 51,543.68 180%
Virginia 12,526.11 32,092.47 156%
Maryland 7,541.10 17,543.58 132%
Ohio 13,732.61 31,530.96 130%
Tennessee 9,264.57 20,735.79 124%
Indiana 16,300.90 32,287.43 98%
Wisconsin 17,984.10 35,039.17 95%
California 66,582.57 121,961.79 83%
Michigan 32,038.96 56,749.17 77%
Arizona 17,667.95 29,762.28 68%

For fun, a look at those two lists side-by-side:

Brewery Growth Barrels Sold Growth
Texas Texas
New Jersey Florida
North Carolina Iowa
Virginia New Jersey
Maryland Minnesota
Indiana North Carolina
Minnesota Virginia
Arizona Maryland
Florida Ohio
Tennessee Tennessee
Michigan Indiana
Pennsylvania Wisconsin
Ohio California
Iowa Michigan
Wisconsin Arizona

The key here is to better identify the places that are making the jump toward where long-tenured beer loving states may be. In the past couple years, Texas has certainly been a state to keep an eye on and these stats certainly emphasize that. As you go down the list, consider the states shown with new, hot breweries you’ve heard about.

The Pacific Northwest and West Coast have long been known as big beer places, but this collection of states helps to show why so many people are talking about just about every region of the country as something to offer. New breweries are doing some pretty great things, which is attracting plenty of people to not only open and expand these beer communities, but bringing beer lovers to the source. A lot of this has to do with growing interest, but it certainly also deals with modernizing laws in many of these states that for a long time impeded aspects of industry growth.

In the end, that final note will continue to play a pivotal role in how these kinds of stats grow and change in the years to come.

The Full List

In case you were interested in finding the data for certain states, the full list is pasted below. Note that the number of breweries per state, as shared on the Brewers Association website state-by-state, goes back five years. The TTB data goes back to 2010. In some cases, like Mississippi, data for a year may be missing.

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Alabama
No. of breweries 6 10 13 19 24
Own-premise barrels sold 0.00 0.00 0.00 130.55 226.25 5,760.63
Alaska
No. of breweries 20 22 22 22 27
Own-premise barrels sold 1,666.84 1,994.17 2,007.52 2,556.31 2,656.27 5,049.98
Arizona
No. of breweries 34 45 47 53 78
Own-premise barrels sold 14,982.81 16,668.08 14,427.63 18,562.39 17,667.95 29,762.28
Arkansas
No. of breweries 6 10 13 19 26
Own-premise barrels sold 518.25 535.25 524.00 558.14 776.12 1,319.67
California
No. of breweries 270 319 381 431 518
Own-premise barrels sold 29,464.37 38,249.35 27,645.89 62,653.99 66,582.57 121,961.79
Colorado
No. of breweries 126 151 175 235 284
Own-premise barrels sold 39,224.46 50,434.80 43,769.12 61,841.82 75,759.99 120,964.79
Connecticut
No. of breweries 16 21 23 27 35
Own-premise barrels sold 695.72 1,006.90 471.10 2,411.30 2,076.35 13,478.12
Delaware
No. of breweries 7 9 10 11 15
Own-premise barrels sold 0.00 569.00 0.00 3,051.08 3,089.73 5,981.02
Florida
No. of breweries 45 57 66 111 151
Own-premise barrels sold 5,072.64 4,679.22 3,189.01 6,370.49 7,140.24 35,277.93
Georgia
No. of breweries 21 22 28 40 45
Own-premise barrels sold 2,121.72 2,489.06 1,853.20 4,658.16 4,435.57 17,961.44
Hawaii
No. of breweries 7 9 8 10 13
Own-premise barrels sold 1,329.75 1,367.08 1,134.11 1,972.63 1,380.60 4,234.55
Idaho
No. of breweries 24 31 34 43 50
Own-premise barrels sold 3,783.23 4,994.57 4,354.86 6,006.63 4,573.66 13,792.75
Illinois
No. of breweries 54 68 83 103 157
Own-premise barrels sold 12,011.12 15,552.91 14,890.69 25,269.76 91,945.35 44,535.02
Indiana
No. of breweries 46 55 63 80 115
Own-premise barrels sold 6,072.24 9,611.42 8,564.63 15,006.35 16,300.90 32,287.43
Iowa
No. of breweries 27 34 40 46 58
Own-premise barrels sold 3,316.93 4,356.60 3,593.09 6,175.74 5,775.54 17,917.21
Kansas
No. of breweries 17 19 20 22 26
Own-premise barrels sold 3,461.57 4,906.29 3,403.46 7,451.96 7,579.47 6,540.63
Kentucky
No. of breweries 11 14 15 18 24
Own-premise barrels sold 279.60 1,277.50 749.81 6,465.48 6,234.52 7,190.18
Louisiana
No. of breweries 8 8 11 15 20
Own-premise barrels sold 1,775.20 1,536.07 1,606.10 1,723.51 1,579.10 5,933.60
Maine
No. of breweries 34 37 47 52 59
Own-premise barrels sold 2,980.25 3,754.47 3,814.16 8,036.58 7,936.21 14,797.04
Maryland
No. of breweries 25 31 34 40 60
Own-premise barrels sold 7,145.62 6,929.68 5,586.80 7,771.25 7,541.10 17,543.58
Massachusetts
No. of breweries 45 49 57 61 84
Own-premise barrels sold 9,881.01 8,377.22 7,691.57 12,570.98 10,352.66 15,277.04
Michigan
No. of breweries 105 122 131 159 205
Own-premise barrels sold 12,998.13 14,199.86 11,527.15 28,569.48 32,038.96 56,749.17
Minnesota
No. of breweries 35 47 52 73 105
Own-premise barrels sold 1,715.22 3,058.91 1,238.71 11,110.35 12,806.87 35,898.89
Mississippi
No. of breweries 2 3 4 7 8
Own-premise barrels sold 0.00 3.00 0.00 0.00 6,294.62
Missouri
No. of breweries 43 45 49 55 71
Own-premise barrels sold 8,431.39 10,596.85 10,804.23 13,003.37 13,743.88 18,183.66
Montana
No. of breweries 33 36 39 44 49
Own-premise barrels sold 2,708.02 3,042.40 3,236.79 4,373.97 6,203.14 26,374.60
Nebraska
No. of breweries 18 19 22 32 33
Own-premise barrels sold 3,020.29 2,083.32 1,132.00 6,449.30 3,657.26 6,412.13
Nevada
No. of breweries 18 22 22 25 34
Own-premise barrels sold 12,111.63 14,930.03 14,025.70 14,187.08 16,234.04 21,479.94
New Hampshire
No. of breweries 15 19 22 26 44
Own-premise barrels sold 4,698.22 5,352.00 5,653.58 6,072.36 6,381.32 8,636.34
New Jersey
No. of breweries 24 25 26 32 51
Own-premise barrels sold 2,120.18 2,293.27 905.64 5,280.34 6,060.97 18,359.01
New Mexico
No. of breweries 25 28 31 36 45
Own-premise barrels sold 8,436.52 8,424.92 6,140.71 13,997.52 13,976.38 13,352.96
New York
No. of breweries 75 92 165 181 208
Own-premise barrels sold 8,095.67 10,455.01 7,839.08 25,407.21 39,154.22 44,669.50
North Carolina
No. of breweries 59 71 91 101 161
Own-premise barrels sold 11,792.64 12,674.72 12,987.41 22,091.10 18,424.66 51,543.68
North Dakota
No. of breweries 2 4 6 6 9
Own-premise barrels sold 0.00 132.00 47.98 1,376.15 1,350.78 2,325.95
Ohio
No. of breweries 45 58 76 110 143
Own-premise barrels sold 7,220.57 8,084.49 8,244.44 11,927.23 13,732.61 31,530.96
Oklahoma
No. of breweries 10 10 13 10 14
Own-premise barrels sold 1,575.34 1,753.78 937.96 2,381.47 2,459.74 9,950.59
Oregon
No. of breweries 124 145 181 216 228
Own-premise barrels sold 23,123.20 28,137.03 29,193.32 38,267.28 35,542.33 86,834.95
Pennsylvania
No. of breweries 88 104 108 136 178
Own-premise barrels sold 13,405.80 20,844.85 17,818.02 32,031.70 30,646.77 41,040.29
Rhode Island
No. of breweries 6 8 8 11 14
Own-premise barrels sold 787.84 902.50 716.47 830.80 987.13 974.43
South Carolina
No. of breweries 16 16 20 31 36
Own-premise barrels sold 2,001.43 1,708.77 652.55 2,738.72 3,184.64 9,666.53
South Dakota
No. of breweries 5 7 10 12 14
Own-premise barrels sold 253.50 165.00 0.00 913.96 1,433.02 1,802.72
Tennessee
No. of breweries 24 30 35 39 52
Own-premise barrels sold 9,010.41 5,529.06 4,987.68 10,180.52 9,264.57 20,735.79
Texas
No. of breweries 59 84 96 117 189
Own-premise barrels sold 4,914.36 5,396.15 2,356.02 9,709.23 9,848.20 62,622.83
Utah
No. of breweries 16 16 16 20 22
Own-premise barrels sold 4,240.25 4,790.98 3,359.90 3,953.10 5,875.72 4,001.39
Vermont
No. of breweries 22 27 29 40 44
Own-premise barrels sold 2,431.46 2,267.61 1,183.31 2,606.85 2,786.29 10,846.17
Virginia
No. of breweries 40 50 61 78 124
Own-premise barrels sold 8,866.98 9,306.00 7,561.59 12,460.13 12,526.11 32,092.47
Washington
No. of breweries 136 170 201 256 305
Own-premise barrels sold 13,847.68 15,650.91 14,729.64 17,833.16 18,363.50 43,219.71
Washington DC
No. of breweries 6 6 9 8 10
Own-premise barrels sold 3,574.26 1,676.75 1,572.75 2,250.90 4,630.30 7,860.31
West Virginia
No. of breweries 5 6 7 11 12
Own-premise barrels sold 0.00 0.00 8.10 422.15 420.50 3,759.35
Wisconsin
No. of breweries 73 84 90 97 121
Own-premise barrels sold 6,506.06 10,881.64 8,332.10 19,023.34 17,984.10 35,039.17
Wyoming
No. of breweries 13 15 18 22 23
Own-premise barrels sold 2,551.51 2,993.18 3,266.23 3,740.07 3,305.07 4,710.50

 

Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

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14 thoughts on “How Committed is Your State to ‘Drinking Local’?

  1. Hi Bryan,

    Thanks again for this research. I would assume that TTB has the total sales as well, so the sales sold on-premise at the brewery as well as the total sales per state. It probably can’t break down total on/off premise sales, but if the total beer segment is flat and, overall, craft beer sales are slowing is it safe to assume that the non-on site sales are down or flat. Or do these sales just represent a small segment of overall sales. I know it varies wildly by brewery, but it might be interesting to see the split at a state level. And does TTB show how much beer Texas is selling outside of Texas vs. how much stays in state?

    From a selfish perspective, we built Craft Nation to help breweries extend that “authentic, onsite” experience after they leave. How can they continue the conversation and continue to engage? While its great for the consumer to be able to bounce around to a bunch of great breweries for the experience, how can it be sustainable? Why would I go back a 2nd or 3rd time? And more importantly, all these wonderful breweries that have invested in the capacity to distribute outside their brewery—how am I motivated to purchase their product at a bar/store and enjoy at home.

    Great to wake up and get my mind going right away.

    Thanks,

    Jay

    I didn’t want to post as comment, as I don’t want it to be self-serving for Craft Nation.

    • Happy to help these mental workouts!

      If you go to the TTB site, you can add up the collection of sales categories, but the numbers above are what they track for on-site, direct sales. Overall, “own-premise” is a very small fraction of overall sales, but it is growing fast. So while it may not provide gigantic numbers on an industry level, the barrels sold at taprooms is certainly a huge deal to the smaller breweries who can thrive off of it.

      In regard to return visits, one aspect that I hear about often is price. That’s definitely a big deal for consumers, and saving a buck or two at the source, which provides all sorts of tangible benefits, can come off as “better” than going to a bar and paying more.

      Not sure if I’m continuing the conversation here or not, but perhaps some additional things to bounce around!

  2. It’ll be interesting to see if trends like this begin to have an impact on how breweries choose to distribute their product. It would limit their growth, but depending on the motivation of the brewers, they might simply be happy with crafting great beer and creating a space where people can enjoy it. In NYC at least there are a number of breweries that worry first about the distribution of their product at the brewery and if anything makes it through the initial sale period it slowly makes its way into distribution (Other Half, Finback, Threes). I imagine in more densely populated areas there’s less of a need for external distribution, by the same token you have places like Tree House.

    I’m sure a lot of this has a lot to do with the massive amounts of hype for certain beers and breweries created through word of mouth and the various social media platforms. Five years ago I was quite happy getting stuff I could find on the shelves at my distributor but as I’ve become more involved in the online craft beer culture, there always seem to be “must-haves” that you can only get at the breweries.

    Really enjoyable read.

    Cheers

    • Thanks so much for reading! Appreciate the kind words.

      Among the many phrases I’ve heard in recent years, the “go a mile deep, not a mile wide” mantra seems to be wildly popular right now.

  3. Bryan,

    I just wanted to add a data point, one that might make you suspect the TTB data is not entirely accurate. This is the form that brewers use to report their operations:
    https://www.ttb.gov/forms/f51309.pdf

    We were audited this year, and I found out that we had been filling this form out incorrectly for about 13 years. Since we are a packaging brewery, not a brewpub, I had not been breaking out our taproom on-site sales from our total production (thinking the “tavern sales” applied only to brewpubs). They corrected my thinking, and we didn’t owe any additional taxes. But I wonder how accurate the TTB’s numbers are for the different items. At least for us, our reports would show a huge jump in on-premise sales this year!

    Cheers,

    Linus Hall
    Yazoo Brewing
    Nashville, TN

    • Thank you for this, Linus! The exact reason why I had the note at the top, because given the jump seen in many states, it can almost certainly be because of tracking of these numbers. This is a great piece of evidence to add to the discussion.

      Any idea of what the jump may look like for Yazoo?

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