Craft brewers take another giant hop

Lauri and Matthew Spitz of Riverhead's Moustache Brewing Co.

Craft brewers expanded their market share by 13 percent in 2015, cooking up 24.5 million barrels worth $22.3 billion, the Colorado-based Brewers Association announced this week.

The dollar value now represents more than a fifth of all U.S. beer sales, an increase of 16 percent year over year.

“For the past decade, craft brewers have charged into the market, seeing double digit growth for eight of those years,” said Bart Watson, the association’s chief economist. “There are still a lot of opportunities and areas for additional growth. An important focus will remain on quality as small and independent brewers continue to lead the local, full-flavored beer movement.”

The association said there are now 4,269 small and independent breweries in America, up 15 percent from 2014. That includes 2,397 microbreweries, 1,650 brewpubs and 178 regional brewers, with 620 new breweries opening in 2015. There were 68 closures.

Four Southern states — Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Texas — each saw a net increase of more than 20 breweries, establishing a strong base for future growth in the region. In total, craft brewers provided nearly 122,000 jobs, an increase of over 6,000 from the previous year.

New York ranks 12th in the nation, according to the association, with 101 craft breweries producing more than 372,000 barrels annually and a market value of $1.2 billion annually. That’s 1.6 gallons per New Yorker aged 21 and older.

“Small and independent brewers are a beacon for beer and our economy,” Watson added. “As breweries continue to open and volume increases, there is a strong need for workers to fill a whole host of positions at these small and growing businesses.”