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10 Revealing Statistics About the Beer Industry

Here's how San Diego, California, and the U.S. stack up against other beer regions, according to 10 different studies


Graphic by Bruce Glassman

As a resident of San Diego, it’s easy to find yourself living in a “beer bubble.” I’m as guilty of it as anyone. I tend to think of San Diego as the center of the beer universe, but the truth is that there are lots of great beer cities all over the world—okay, I’ll admit it—even other great beer cities in America.

A bunch of interesting new statistics have been released lately from the Brewers Association, Cal State University San Marcos, the San Diego Brewers Guild, and other sources, that help to put San Diego, California, and America in perspective from a beer standpoint. Periodically, I think it’s a good idea to digest some of these major stats and facts, just to keep on top of an industry that’s so important to San Diego. At the very least, knowing some of this stuff will help you wow your friends with beer knowledge at the next party you attend.

Here are ten of the most interesting beer-fact things I’ve found lately:

1. Americans don’t drink the most beer per capita (not even close). According to The UK Telegraph and 2018 statistics from Statista, folks in the Czech Republic guzzle 287 pints per person (143.3 liters) whereas Americans, by contrast, drink only about 163.5 pints (20.44 gallons) per person.

2. America doesn’t produce the most beer. According to worldatlas.com, the biggest brewer on the planet is China, which makes 46.54 million kiloliters annually (more than twice the U.S.). We make about 194.2 million barrels annually, according to the Brewers Association.

3. America does appear to have the most craft breweries of any country on the planet. According to alltech.com, there are about 10,000 craft breweries in the world and 86% of them are either in the UK or the USA. According to the Brewers Association, we currently have a total of 7,346 craft breweries in America.

4. Here’s what the U.S. beer industry in general looks like, according to the BA (2018 statistics):

The U.S. beer market generated $114.2 billion in sales in 2018, with craft beer accounting for $27.6 billion (about 24% of the total). It took nearly 26 million barrels of craft beer to create that revenue.

5. Here’s how California stacks up compared to other states in the beer department (statistics are from BA for 2018):

  • California is #1 in total U.S. craft breweries at 900-plus.
  • California is #1 in the economic impact of its beer industry, generating $7.345 billion in 2018.


6. California is way down the states list in terms of per capita breweries at #28 (which translates to 2.9 breweries per 100,000 persons 21+). Vermont holds the #1 spot, with 11.5 breweries per 100,000.

7. California is #2 in total barrels of craft beer produced annually, with a total production in 2018 of 3.42 million barrels. Pennsylvania comes in at #1, with 3.72 million barrels.

8. Californians rank 30th in per capita beer consumption, according to the 2017 statistics from 24/7 Wall St, which says we consume an average of 25.1 gallons per person. New Hampshire chugs to #1 with 40.6 gallons per capita.

9. San Diego’s beer industry continues to outpace the general craft beer industry in growth. According to the San Diego Brewers Guild and statistics from Cal State University San Marcos, San Diego craft beer generated $1.2 billion in economic impact in 2018, with total industry revenue of $848 million. San Diego breweries produced 1.3 million barrels in 2018 and provided an estimated 6,480 jobs for the region.

10. Have you ever tasted the world’s top-selling beer? Probably not. It’s Snow, which is a light lager only available in China. How much Snow is sold every year? A lot. It beats out Bud by more than twice the volume, and, according to the company that makes it, each day they sell enough beer to fill 12 Olympic-size swimming pools.

sdbrewdude SDTopBrewers

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