The Session: How many breweries will exist in 2017?

This month’s Session question (a regular query posed by an anointed member of the beer blogging world) comes from Derrick Peterman on his “Ramblings of a Beer Runner” site: How many breweries will be around in 2017?

The answer, of course, is purely speculative. Over the last few years, the number of craft breweries recognized by the Brewers Association has skyrocketed. As someone whose job it is to have a keen understanding of the craft landscape, this has made my 9-5, well, interesting—sometimes nerve-wracking and sometimes exhausting. But you know what? I want more.

I won’t try to pin a number on my answer to Peterman’s question (alright, 2,831 recognized breweries) but I can tell you what I hope the craft landscape looks like five years from now. I hope the trend of small brewpubs and nano-breweries continues to spread across the country. I want to see more restaurants taking on house-brewed beer; no different than those that bake bread in-house. I want to see more places like Tugboat in Portland; little hole-in-the-wall outfits that brew small batches for a local fan base. I want every neighborhood in every city to have its own brewery, crafting beer for locals within walking distance. I want these localized places to build regional flavor, so that the West Coast isn’t the only region famous for creating a flavor profile. I want more. More of everything.

In short, I want the beer industry to keep me, the entire staff of DRAFT and the rest of the beer media on its toes so that we begin each work day wondering “what’s new, what’s unsampled?” and not fall into the laziness of beer snobbery and know-it-allism.

However many breweries it takes to ensure five years from now requires just as much investigation on the part of beer media as it does today, that’s the number I want to see.

Posted on Thursday, September 6th, 2012