I Am Not A Statistic! (Okay, I Am)

The American Homebrewers Association (AHA)the not-for-profit trade association serving as a resource and community for homebrewersreleased results of a first-ever nationwide homebrewer survey today, a break-down of demographics, brewing habits and shopping behaviors of American homebrewers.

The survey was completed by more than 18,000 homebrewers via an online survey from July 30 to September 3, 2013. Of the respondents, 65 percent were members of the AHA, and 35 percent were unaffiliated homebrewers

So the AHA (of which I am now a member) released this infographic today based on their homebrewer survey. Here it is for your edification:

AHA Homebrewer Survey Infographic

Some pretty interesting stats up there. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Demographics: The average homebrewer is 40 years old, with most (60 percent) falling between 30 and 49 years old. The majority of homebrewers are married or in a domestic partnership (78 percent), have a college degree or some form of higher education (69 percent), and are highly affluent-nearly 60 percent of all homebrewers have household incomes of $75,000 or more.

Boy did I beat the odds here (almost). Falling more than a full decade below the median age, I’m not even in the majority age range for homebrewers. On top of that, I’m not married (or in a domestic partnership). I do, however, have a college degree and thanks to a recent raise, I fall into the 60% income range (though I would hardly call it “highly affluent”).

Location: Homebrewers are fairly evenly spread across the country, with the slight plurality congregated in the West (31 percent), followed by the South (26 percent), Midwest (23 percent) and the fewest in the Northeast (17 percent).

I think there’s a lot of underlying factors to this; namely population density. When you consider that the largest city in the Northeast (NYC) isn’t well known for its spacious living conditions, that sort of puts a limiting constraint for how well that city (and the region, subsequently) are represented. There’s also legality to consider, though the South is well represented despite Mississippi and Alabama only legalizing homebrewing recently. Finally: beer culture I’m sure beer culture factors in as well. The West Coast certainly has it in spades.

Production: In terms of brew production, homebrewers mainly stick to beer—60 percent of respondents only brew beer at home, compared to wine, mead or cider. AHA members and people affiliated with the AHA on average brewed nearly 10 batches of beer per year, at 7 gallons a batch, which is 15 percent more batches and nearly 30 percent more volume than homebrewers who were not affiliated with the AHA. Collectively, homebrewers produce more than 2 million barrels of brew a year, which represents a small but sizeable portion (1 percent) of total U.S. production.

I thought this was the most interesting set of numbers of come out of this survey. Homebrewers produce 2 million barrels of beer per year, which is around what Sam Adams produces. Certainly no small drop in the fermenting bucket, but obviously paling in comparison the AB-InBev and MillerCoors.

Retail: Nearly all homebrewers (95 percent) shop in two local homebrew stores eight or nine times a year, while a majority (80 percent) also shops in three online stores five times a year. On average, homebrewers spend $800 a year—about $460 on general supplies and ingredients, and $330 on major equipment.

Boy, must be nice to have two local homebrew stores around. I’m lucky enough to have one a ten-to-fifteen minute drive from my house, which means that I’m a frequently online shopper for items they don’t carry (and I have no online allegiance, so I’ll shop around). I didn’t think I’d spend anywhere near $800 a year, but for me a slightly-expensive batch costs around $40 (including yeast) so if I brew every 2 weeks that’s around $1000 a year on ingredients alone (not including all the fun new toys I occasionally spoil myself with).

I’d be interested to know the duration of most brewers’ experience. The graphic says that most homebrewers started within the past 8 years, but what’s that distribution look like? What percentage of the 1.2 million homebrewers are members of homebrew clubs? What percent are BJCP judges? What percent have won an award for their brewing?

Kudos to the AHA for gathering all this interesting info about homebrewing; hopefully this becomes an annual report.


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