The Brewers Association, the trade association representing small and independent American craft brewers, recently released 2016 data on U.S. craft brewing. Small and independent craft brewers represent 12.3 percent market share by volume of the overall beer industry, with more than 5,300 breweries operating during the year.

In 2016, craft brewers produced 24.6 million barrels. Retail dollar value was estimated at $23.5 billion, representing 21.9 percent market share. By adding 1.4 million barrels, craft brewer growth outpaced the 1.2 million barrels lost from the craft segment due to acquisitions by large brewing companies. Small and independent brewers continue to show steady growth. Microbreweries and brewpubs delivered 90 percent of the craft brewer growth.

In 2016, the number of operating breweries in the U.S. grew 16.6 percent, totaling 5,301 breweries: 3,132 microbreweries, 1,916 brewpubs, 186 regional craft breweries and 67 large or otherwise non-craft brewers. Small and independent breweries account for 99 percent of the breweries in operation. Throughout the year, there were 826 new brewery openings and only 97 closings. Combined with already existing and established breweries and brewpubs, craft brewers provided nearly 129,000 jobs, an increase of almost 7,000 jobs from 2015.

And, encouraging further growth in the craft brewers industry, a bill has been introduced in New Jersey that would allow microbreweries to sell beer in farmers’ markets, with some limitations. Pennsylvania has allowed the sale of craft beers in farmers’ markets since late 2016.

As craft brewers open microbreweries and beer pubs, they will need assistance to find and lease or purchase locations for their new businesses. One example of repurposing old venues is a new microbrewery and multiuse event space that is planned for Fort Monmouth’s former Dance Hall in the Oceanport section. The 1941 Dance Hall was severely damaged in Super Storm Sandy; those portions are being rebuilt. A second floor will be added, expanding the space from the current 16,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet, with a 2,500- to 4,000-square-foot restaurant, a coffee shop, and an on-site catering area. The microbrewery will produce IPAs and offer tastings and retail sales and service events but will not have a bar. The plan was deemed compliant by a Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority committee and the parcel was sold “as is” for $120,000 last year.

Stark & Stark attorneys Dolores R. Kelley, Esq., Marshall T. Kizner, Esq., and Eric S. Goldberg, Esq. will discuss craft breweries and distilleries and their impact on commercial real estate at an upcoming free MCE seminar. Stark & Stark Beer & Spirits practice group is one of the only practices in New Jersey and Pennsylvania with a team dedicated to the needs of the craft beer and artisan spirits industry.