In 2018, Chicago was crowned the craft beer capital of the country with more breweries than any other metro area in the nation. The city's relatively low cost of living (compared to other major metropolises), its citizens affinity for booze, and large population of craft beer aficionados, caused breweries to flock here like moths to a flame. Thus the craft beer jewel of the nation was formed.But how has local craft faired two years later? What does the landscape look like now? We wanted to answer just that.
In the Chicago Craft Beer report we’ll be diving into our data from 2019, consisting of over 150 million servings of alcohol, to highlight the city’s top breweries, the trends to look out for and the products you need to stock at your bar.
So lock yourself in the walk-in, take a seat on a keg and soak it all in.
Craft Beer by Segment
In order to analyze local craft performance, we first need to look at the craft landscape overall. In 2019, craft beer accounted for roughly 40% of beer volume on Provi which is significantly higher than other markets. However, when compared to data from 2018, craft beer’s growth declined by -1.15%. But wait, no need to panic. There’s more. When breaking down craft sales into three different segments— Local, Regional, and Large Brewery— we get a different story.
Large Brewery share in Chicagoland took the hardest hit in 2019 with a -13.33% decline in growth when compared to the previous year. This segment is defined by those with 25% or more ownership from an outside company. Regional Craft, breweries with a yearly production of 15,000 and 6,000,000 barrels, also declined in YoY growth but only by -2%, ending the year with 21.75% share of yearly beer volume.
While overall craft, Large, and Regional Brewery share declined in growth, Local craft picked up steam. Share of beer volume grew by 6% from 2018 to 2019 for locally owned Chicagoland breweries. This data indicates that now, more than ever before, bar managers and their customers are supporting brands with a local presence and wide, ever-evolving variety.
Which Chicago Craft Breweries Are on Top?
Revolution Brewing staked its claim to the number one spot for the second year in a row. The local titan ended 2019 with a whopping 24.16% share of volume from Chicagoland craft breweries. Half Acre and 3 Floyds were in a tight race for second place in 2019 with Half Acre ultimately taking the lead accounting for 18.61% of local craft volume— knocking 3 Floyds down to third with 18.19% share.
It’s also notable that Dovetail, Hopewell, Noon Whistle and Wild Onion made it on the top 15 list for the first time in 2019.
10 Fastest Growing Chicagoland Breweries of 2019
Hopewell Brewing’s growth skyrocketed in 2019. Hopewell’s mission of not only brewing great beer but also doing right by their employees and being active members of the community made them a local favorite and (we like to think) helped propel their YoY share growth of 376% last year. Dovetail also garnered YoY growth in the triple digits and skyrocketed to the second fastest growing local brewery with 215% growth from their share of local craft volume in 2018.
It’s also notable that Maplewood Brewery & Distillery has made it on the fastest growing Chicagoland brewery list for two years in a row.
Most Popular Craft Beer Styles in Chicago
For those of you sick of IPAs: Sorry boutcha! The style is still the number one local craft beer style, accounting for 30.19% of total Chicagoland craft beer volume in 2019. IPA’s share even grew by 14% last year when compared to 2018. Once again, the trend of Chicago’s second most popular craft beer style is on the decline. While American Pale Ale ended the year with 28.33% of craft beer share, it’s share plummeted by -20% when compared to the previous year.
Our hot take: there are new IPA variations, like Milkshake IPAs and New England IPAs, keeping the market interested while APAs have gone stale.
When it comes to upcoming style trends, our bet is on American Lagers. It seems like a different Chicagoland brewery was releasing a new lager every week in 2019 and the data is in; consumers love them. The style’s growth skyrocketed, growing its share of craft by 404% when compared to 2018.
Top 20 Craft Beer Products from Chicago Breweries in 2019
Chicago had a new favorite local craft beer in 2019. Knocking Half Acre Daisy Cutter out of the top spot was Revolution Anti-Hero IPA which accounted for 13.15% of craft volume last year. But to be fair, it was a tight race. Revolution Anti-Hero IPA only beat out Daisy Cutter by less than one percentage point. But Half Acre did accomplish a huge feat in 2019. Their newly released beer, Half Acre Bodem, landed in the top ten and was the only craft beer that was released in 2019 to make the list.
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