A while ago we went through some of the Brewer’s Association’s market data from 2015. We concluded that the craft beer market would start to slow and wouldn’t meet the BA’s goal of 20% market share by 2020.

While the number of breweries is much higher in 2015, the growth over the year prior has actually slowed by 4% (15% vs. 19%.) Between 2014 and 2015 the total beer market increased by $4.8 billion or an increase of 4.7%. The craft beer industry grew by 16% in that time. That’s down from a 22% increase from 2014 to 2015.

…The craft industry will not get to 20% volume market share by 2020. I think that 3.2% jump between 2013 and 2014 was the big push and unless there is a considerable change in the market, averaging nearly 2% volume growth per year is going to be hard to sustain. I’m calling for 16.5%, or ~1% volume increase per year.

It turns out that 2016’s data is starting to support that opinion. According to a new study released by Nielsen, craft beer sales are up only 6% in 2016 YTD.

The consensus is that craft beer has slowed down significantly this year,” he said. “The scale of the slowdown has come as a surprise to everyone. – Trevor Stirling of Bernstein Research

But the question is why is the market dropping. It is possible that the drop in growth has to do with fragmentation of the market – the bigger craft breweries (Sam Adams, Stone, etc.) are losing market share and all those pints are going to our local breweries (Aslan, Boundary, Chuckanut…Tap Trail!?) If that is the case, this could spell a long term disaster for those massive buyouts of the last few years.

Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s chief economist, said he’s less concerned about the drop in growth.

Certainly, there are challenges for particular companies out there it’s hard to know what the exact number is out there. If it’s 6 percent or 10 percent, that’s a number that many industries in the U.S. economy would kill for.

There were 4,300 craft breweries in 2015. A 14% increase from 2014.