Catching up with some craft beer news from beyond our region:
• The number of permitted breweries nationally reached an all-time high of 7,190 at the end of 2016, the National Beer Wholesalers Association reports – more than tripling the total of 2,343 six years ago. It was the third straight year that more than 1,000 permits were issued by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
Washington state ranked second with 424 permitted breweries, behind only California’s 927. Oregon placed seventh with 304, while Montana had 79 and Idaho 67.
Montana has the third-highest number of breweries per 100,000 population, at 7.58, compared to 7.43 for Oregon, 5.82 for Washington and 3.98 for Idaho. The national average is 2.2
Those totals include breweries that are licensed but not operational, including ones that may have recently shut down but not yet been delisted. The number of operating breweries at the end of last November was 5,005, according to the Brewers Association.
• While the number of breweries continues to soar, craft beer sales are starting to slow down. Supermarket sales grew by 6.9 percent last year, the first time that has dipped below double digits since 2005, according to market research firm IRI Worldwide.
Some familiar brands actually saw sales decrease, including Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Widmer Hefeweizen, New Belgium Ranger IPA and Samuel Adams’ Boston Lager and Rebel IPA – the latter of which was down a whopping 23 percent.
In response, parent company Boston Beer this week announced it was revising the Rebel recipe, removing caramel malt to lighten the body and bring out the hops, with a new focus on fruity Mosaic.
New Belgium recently revamped its IPA lineup, including Ranger, with an increased emphasis on Mosaic – which also stars in the brewery’s just-released spring seasonal, Whizbang Hoppy Blonde Ale. The increasingly popular hop also is featured in Alaskan's new spring Husky IPA.