Watch CBS News

Local craft breweries remain at an all-time high, but industry see signs of slowing down

Growth of craft breweries slows after industry boom
Growth of craft breweries slows after industry boom 03:01

SACRAMENTO - Beer is the Super Bowl stand-by beverage for so many. But while the number of local craft breweries remains at an all-time high, the growth of new breweries has slowed.

So what does that mean for current brewers and those looking to tap into the industry?

"More options, every brewery is kind of doing their own thing," beer enthusiast Nicole Heitkam said. 

Explore the world of craft beer and you might find your perfect match.

For a hoppy bitter taste, you might like an IPA. For a lighter option, a kolsch or lager.

But whatever it is, you're sure to find something you like and even the person you're sharing it with.

"You get to find your little niche, and find what you really like," said Grayson Carlson, a beer enthusiast. 

California's craft beer scene started taking flight about 10 years ago, but the industry is now showing signs of slowing down.

As of January, there are about 1,100 breweries in California - the highest number out of any other state. Eighty-one of them are located in the Sacramento region.

So, is it possible to get too much of a good thing?

"We aren't seeing brewery growth anymore," said Bart Watson, the Brewers Association's chief economist. "Those openings and closings are more in balance which is a sign of a more mature developed industry."

For the first time - excluding the COVID years - production has dipped.

Why? Competition is up, not only among other breweries but other drinking options as well, like wineries, something the Central Valley has a lot of.

Distributors and retailers are also shifting away from promoting craft beer.

"They've seen just about everything that takes to make beer more up in recent years and that puts a lot of pressure, particularly in the slowdown in demand," Watson said.

Ryan Compagna is the head brewmaster at Touchstone Brewing Company. He also serves as the president of the Sacramento Brewers Guild.

"We have 80 breweries in this territory, which is pretty much where we were at the start of COVID," Compagna said. 

One reason for local breweries to raise a pint is most of them lasted through the pandemic and even bounced back better than before.

So much so that some breweries are looking past the sales on their own tapes and looking towards grocery stores.

"It is a fight to get on that shelf and as large distributors and larger brands have more access to that, it gets harder and harder," Compagna said.

The Brewers Association is now working with lawmakers to help give small breweries a leg-up.

But for now, Compagna says it comes down to the basics: making good beer and setting yourself apart, an aspect of the industry beer drinkers love.

"Here in Sacramento, there are so many breweries, so we're spoiled for choice," Heitkam said. 

Sacramento Beer Week kicks off on April 26. It's a celebration of all things craft beer. They say it could be one of their biggest years yet. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.