Each year, the U.S. spends an astounding $100 billion on beer. Between pints over brunch and after-work sessions, beer holds a prominent place in the American lifestyle, comprising 85% of the country’s alcoholic beverage market. But the obsession with beer doesn't stop with the average consumer, as sharing a round of brews has come to epitomize comradery, celebration, or just simple enjoyment across the worlds of entertainment, politics, sports, and business. Over the last few decades, the beer landscape has evolved considerably with the rise of craft breweries and the consolidation of major brands. In 2018, America had over 7,000 breweries producing almost 195 million barrels of beer. This wasn’t always the case. In fact, as recently as the 1970s, many beer lovers feared that big brewers would completely dominate the industry with their cheap, flavorless lagers and that America’s best beer-making days were long behind it. Those little producers, the craft and microbreweries, saved the industry and made America’s beer industry the largest and most innovative in the world. For reference, a craft brewery is defined as making less than 6 million barrels per year and a microbrewery produces less than 15,000 barrels annually. To help understand how these changes impact average beer drinks, Stacker
analyzed average price data for 16-ounce malt beverages from 1995 to 2020 along with CPI changes from 1952 to 1995 for at-home consumption of beer, ale, and other malt beverages, both provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The national CPI was used to adjust for inflation, and finally, the contextual information on the number of breweries each year from the Brewer's Association was added in to complete the analysis. Read on to rediscover a time where you could get a refreshing pint for under a quarter—and you had to work a little harder to find a brewery to call your own.