The Brewers Association released new figures on the growth of craft breweries in the United States Wednesday, which showed a growth in Wisconsin’s local breweries.
According to a Brewers Association statement, there has been a net increase of 366 breweries in the country during 2012, which brings the total to 2,403 — the highest it has been since the 1880s. Craft brew sales were up 6.5 percent in 2012, compared to overall beer sales in the United States, which are up 0.9 percent, the statement said.
Deb Carey, the president and founder of New Glarus Brewing Company, attributes the rise in craft beer’s popularity to the increasing amount of people who are becoming more aware of the quality of its foods and drinks.
“It’s not just beer,” she said. “It’s coffee, chocolate, cheese, ethnic food — good beer is part of that movement.”
The New Glarus Brewing Company began in 1993 and has been growing in the double digits ever since, Carey said. She said the company has made more than 60 different beers and beer brands, but it usually keeps a rotation of 20 beers each year.
She said the company’s growth has led to an $11 million expansion, which will be finished next year.
The Grumpy Troll, a brewpub in the Madison suburb of Mount Horeb, has also seen their craft beer growing in popularity. Mark Knoebl, the Grumpy Troll’s brewmaster, said the brewpub has 12 beers on tap, which range from light to dark, malty sweet to hoppy bitter and light to strong in alcohol content.
He said microbreweries, especially, have been a growing trend for people in their 20s and college students.
“Folks realize local is fresher and tastes better,” Knoebl said. “They’re choosing quality over quantity.”
Knoebl said being a brewmaster is “a blast,” and the Grumpy Troll will continue to make great beer and welcome people out to Mount Horeb.
Hathaway Dilba, the director of promotions at Ale Asylum, said she attributes the increase in microbreweries’ popularity to people becoming more socially conscientious.
She said people want to support local businesses and drink beer that is in closer alignment to the evolution of food culture. She said people are heavily trending toward the farm-to-table food movement, and craft beer fits in with that segment.
Ale Asylum, located on Pankratz Street in Madison, opened in 2006 and, as their name suggests, focuses on producing ales and concentrating on hop-centric beer. It also produces a lager. Ale Asylum, which currently distributes to Madison, Milwaukee, Sheboygan, the Fox Valley, La Crosse and Eau Claire, has plans to start distributing to Green Bay, Dilba said.
Ale Asylum recently moved into a new 45,000 square foot facility, she said. They produced 12,045 barrels in 2012 and hope to produce approximately 20,000 barrels in 2013.
This is staggering growth for a company that produced 894 barrels in 2006, she said.
“As beer drinkers become aware of the quality microbrews available on the market, they will continue to expand their palettes,” she said.