Michigan produced 1,428,445 barrels of beer in 2019, up 4% from 2017 and eight times the amount produced in 2008, according to federal statistics.
Growth in Michigan beer production continues to thwart a national trend, in which US beer production is declining, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Tax and Trade on alcohol and tobacco.
Most of the beers made in Michigan are craft beers, made by small, independent brewers.
The state’s main beer producers are Bell’s Brewery, based in Kalamazoo, and Founders Brewing Co., headquartered in Grand Rapids.
Below are some quick beer fasts in Michigan, based on the latest numbers.
Michigan Beer Sales / Production in 2019
The first is a database based on data from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.
The database allows you to research the amount of beer produced and / or sold in Michigan by individual businesses in each of four categories: Wholesalers, Brewers, Microbrewers, and Breweries.
For wholesalers, it is the quantity of beer sold. For producers in the state, this is the amount of beer produced and sold in Michigan. (There is a separate list for each license, which means multiple lists for some companies.)
You can search by vendor category, county, or business name.
The caveats about the numbers: This only includes beer sold in Michigan, not beer sold out of state, and for breweries, the numbers only include sales of in-house produced beer .
You will notice that the companies are divided into four categories. Here are the distinctions:
- Wholesalers distribute beer made outside of Michigan. It’s about 90% of the beer market.
- Brewers are allowed to make more than 60,000 barrels of beer per year. There are two companies with such licenses in Michigan – Bell’s Brewery and Founders Brewing Co.
- Microbreweries are limited to producing 60,000 barrels per year. Like Bell’s and Founders, microbreweries can sell their beer to wholesalers, and their license also allows a bar or restaurant to operate that sells beer by the glass.
- Craft breweries can produce up to 18,000 barrels of beer per year. Under their license, brewpubs must operate a full-service restaurant and cannot sell their beer to wholesalers.
Next is an interactive map that shows beer production by county.
Figures do not include beer made in Michigan and sold out of state. Additionally, the numbers are based on Michigan-produced beer sold in 2019 versus unsold inventory.
Can’t see the map? Click here.
County # 1 is Kalamazoo, home to Bell’s Brewery. Between Bell’s and the county’s microbreweries and breweries, 131,206 barrels of beer were produced in the county and consumed in the state.
County # 2 was Kent, the headquarters of the Founders. Approximately 105,000 barrels were produced in the county and consumed in Michigan.
More quick facts
Below are some quicker facts about Michigan beer sales and production, thanks to data from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Commerce and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.
US beer production on the decline
American breweries produced 179.9 million barrels of beer in 2019 compared to 182.8 million in 2018 and 199.7 million in 2008. The latter figure represents a decline of 10% over the past decade.
The 2019 number equates to about 41 ounces of beer per week for every American, regardless of age.
Michigan ranks 19th for beer production. The top five states: Colorado, Texas, California, Ohio, and Virginia.
Michigan beer production on the rise
Contrary to the national trend, Michigan beer production is on the rise.
Michigan breweries produced 1.43 million barrels of beer in 2019, up from about 180,000 barrels in 2008, almost eight times more, according to federal data.
In 2019, 66% of Michigan beer was sold in bottles and cans; 24% in casks and barrels, and 9% were sold locally, that is to say beer consumed where it is produced. It would be beer sold on site by breweries and microbreweries.
Michigan still only accounts for 0.9% of U.S. beer production
Even though Michigan beer production has skyrocketed in recent years, Michigan is not a major player in beer production in the United States.
In 2019, only 0.9% of beer produced in the United States was made in Michigan.
To put Michigan’s current beer production into perspective, Stroh’s Brewery in Detroit was producing 6.4 million barrels per year in the late 1970s. This compares to 1.4 million barrels produced across Michigan in 2019. .
Stroh’s closed its Detroit brewery in 1985, and the business was dissolved in 2000. In 2016, Pabst – who bought out part of Stroh’s – partnered with Brew Detroit to resurrect Stroh’s original 1850s recipe. The beer is marketed under the name Stroh’s Bohemian-Style Pilsner.
Craft beer making
Michigan produced 903,153 barrels of craft beer in 2019, about 3.5% of the national total.
The state ranks 10th for craft beer production, according to the National Brewers Association, and sixth for the number of craft breweries, with 400.
California is number 1 in craft beer production, followed by Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida and New York.
Michigan beer sales are down
Federal figures are for beer made in Michigan, regardless of where it was sold.
In contrast, Michigan Liquor Control Commission data relates to beer sold in Michigan, including beer produced outside the state.
These figures show that 5.96 million barrels of beer were sold in Michigan in 2019, down 9% from 2007 and 0.7% from 2018.
Why beer sales are declining while beer production is increasing
So how can beer sales fall as beer production rises?
The explanation: Even within the state, beer made in Michigan accounts for only 10% of the beer market. Although this share has increased, overall beer sales are declining.
Out-of-state beer sales increased from 6.5 million barrels in 2007 to 5.4 million barrels in 2019.
Learn more about MLive:
Michigan retail alcohol sales a bright spot amid coronavirus economic crisis
Michigan’s Top 50 Liquor Stores and Top 50 Sites for 2019; no longer see the numbers for your county
Michigan’s 50 Best Beer Brewers, Based on 2018 State Sales