You would think the craft brewing market is drying up when headline after headline marks closures amid the rise of distilling and booze-free movements.

Flat, though, might be more the story.

Craft brewery openings decreased for the second year in a row, according to the recently released Brewers Association’s annual report. Openings slightly outpace closures in 2023, with 495 new breweries entering the craft brew market and 418 closings.

Colorado breweries represent national craft brewery trends

Colorado has felt the changes, with several breweries closing last year. We lost Ursula,  Crooked Stave, Mockery and Black Bottle, among others.  The hits kept coming as 2023 neared its end.

Others, like Grimm Brothers and Crow Hop, chose to downsize and move.

“While many individual businesses are struggling, there is good news in the continued overall popularity of the category. Yes, things are more challenging, but independent brewers still sell more than one out of eight beers in the United States; beer drinkers spend roughly one out of four of their beer dollars on a beer from a small and independent brewer; and the industry remains a source of jobs and community across the country,” Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association, said via press release.

Colorado among states with most breweries

Even with the seeming slumps, Colorado remains among the top states when it comes to the number of breweries located in what many consider to be the birthplace of microbrews.

Colorado ranks in the top five with its 468 breweries, according to the Brewers Association. By pure numbers, we rank No. 4, with California, New York and Pennsylvania coming in one, two and three.

Map of top breweries by state
Brewers Association

Per capita, Colorado ranks No. 5 among states with the most craft breweries. The top states are:

1 – Vermont, with 74 breweries at 14.7 per capita.

2 – Maine, with 156 breweries at 14.2 per capita.

3 – Montana, with 106 breweries at 12.3 per capita.

4 – Alaska, with 61 breweries at 11.9 per capita.

5 – Colorado, with 468 breweries at 10.6 per capita.

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Where Colorado breweries rank by sales

According to the Brewers Association, while craft beer sales fell 1% in 2023 compared with 2022, the volume of beer sales grew slightly. Beer overall took a 5.1% hit as consumers turned to other beverages.

Colorado has three of the top 50 producing craft beer companies.

No. 6 – Tilray Beer Brands in Breckenridge

No. 9 – Monster Brewing in Longmont

No. 25 – Odell Brewing in Fort Collins

Among overall breweries, Colorado also sits at No. 9 with Kirin-Lion’s New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins. The Colorado-born brewery often cited as leading the craft beer boom sold in 2019.

Slow sales don’t topple Colorado’s importance to craft brew industry

Even with so many changes to the craft beer scene, Colorado still holds great influence in the craft beer industry for its historic leadership, number of breweries and economic impact with sales and as tourist destinations. The beer business community itself collaborates to advance knowledge and innovation, cultivating a vibrant scene worthy of celebrating.

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