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The cost of a beer the year you turned 21

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Hakan Tanak // Shutterstock

The cost of a beer the year you turned 21

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 2019 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. 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.

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USMC Archives // Flickr

1952

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.22
- Inflation-adjusted price: $2.09 (#6 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 403

The post-World War II resurgence of America’s beer industry was in full effect with about 400 breweries operating across the nation. But gone was the local, small-batch brewer, replaced by large regional brewers like Anheuser-Busch who continued the wartime focus of creating as much beer as possible for as cheaply as possible and distributed it all over the country. During this era, American beer earned its reputation as cheap and flavorless.

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Piaget - van Ravenswaay // Wikimedia Commons

1953

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.22
- Inflation-adjusted price: $2.10 (#5 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 272

Flexing its bulging corporate muscle, Anheuser-Busch bought the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team for $3.75 million. Meanwhile in Milwaukee, workers at the city’s six biggest breweries (Schlitz, Pabst, Miller, Blatz, Gettelman, and Independent) went on strike for 76 days, which allowed Anheuser-Busch to overtake Schlitz as the top-producing brewery in the country.

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Three Lions // Getty Images

1954

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.23
- Inflation-adjusted price: $2.19 (#1 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 258

Following the old adage that more is better, Schlitz flipped the beer world on its head that year by introducing the 16-ounce can. This began, as evidenced in the coming years, the emergence of the can as a viable replacement for glass bottles and draft beer.

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Russell Lee // Wikimedia Commons

1955

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.23
- Inflation-adjusted price: $2.16 (#2 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 239

Having recovered from the 1953 worker strike, Schlitz regained the title of America’s biggest brewer in 1955, but the triumph didn’t last long. Although the number of breweries continued to decline, beer sales edged upward to almost 90 million barrels that year, from 86 million barrels a decade prior.

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Russell Lee // Wikimedia Commons

1956

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.23
- Inflation-adjusted price: $2.13 (#3 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 227

At the height of the Atomic Age, even beer played a part in our understanding of nuclear physics. Somewhere in Nevada, the Atomic Energy Commission exploded two bombs with beer bottles and cans placed various distances from detonation. The results? While tasting a little off and containing low levels of radiation, the testers deemed the beers still drinkable.

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Philip Rozenski // Shutterstock

1957

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.23
- Inflation-adjusted price: $2.11 (#4 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 210

Schlitz held the title of America’s biggest brewer in 1955 and 1956. It lost it once and for all in 1957 to Anheuser-Busch who carries the mantle of America’s largest brewery to this day.

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Sulfur // Wikimedia Commons

1958

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.23
- Inflation-adjusted price: $2.07 (#7 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 198

Consolidation became the name of the game as regional brewers snapped up rivals to better scale their businesses. To compete with industry leaders Anheuser-Busch and Schlitz, Pabst purchased fellow Milwaukee brewery Blatz. Pabst retired the Blatz brewery it bought in 1958 but continued peddling the brands, a business plan of contract-brewing defunct brands they execute to this day.

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Public Domain

1959

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.23
- Inflation-adjusted price: $2.05 (#9 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 193

The can revolution ramped up as Colorado-based Coors released beer in an aluminum can for the first time, drastically reducing the weight and cost of canned beer while also igniting the country’s first recycling program. The evolution of canned beer continued with the introduction of the now-iconic though obsolete “cone-top can.”

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Victor Blackman/Express // Getty Images

1960

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.24
- Inflation-adjusted price: $2.05 (#8 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 188

Americans drank 94.5 million barrels of beer in 1960, continuing the rapid growth of consumption since World War II. But, with the advent of the aluminum top can, they were doing so slightly differently, beginning the shift away from draft and bottles.

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Evening Standard / Stringer // Getty Images

1961

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.24
- Inflation-adjusted price: $2.04 (#10 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 183

Big Beer continued pinching small producers. There were now less than 200 breweries left in America as giant companies like Anheuser-Busch, Miller, Coors, and Pabst pushed out local breweries and gobbled up national market share.

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Babcock & Wilcox Co. // Wikimedia Commons

1962

- Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.24
- Inflation-adjusted price: $2.03 (#11 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 178

More canning innovation debuted this year as Pittsburgh Brewing Company, makers of Iron City, rolled out the tab top can, a precursor to the now-ubiquitous ring pull tab. Also based in Pittsburgh, Alcoa, the world’s largest aluminum maker, partnered with Pittsburgh Brewing on several canning initiatives as aluminum cans began their domination of the beer market.

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Joe Haupt // Flickr

1963

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.24
- Inflation-adjusted price: $2.01 (#12 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 173

National Brewing Company debuted Colt 45, named after 1963 Colts running back #45 Jerry Hill and not the handgun. This kicked off a controversy that continues today: That cheap, high-alcohol malt liquor is disproportionately marketed to poor, inner-city communities.

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Andy Kyle/Evening Standard // Getty Images

1964

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.24
- Inflation-adjusted price: $2.01 (#13 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 168

Boston goes dry. Not intentionally of course, but the last remaining brewery in Boston, Haffenreffer (established: 1870), fermented its final batch of beer and closed the following year. For the first time in 300 years, Beantown found itself without an operating brewery.

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James Cridland // Flickr

1965

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.25
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.99 (#14 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 163

While Americans consumed a record 108 million barrels of beer in 1965, beer drinkers began thinking about quality over quantity. At least a few did. Home appliance scion Fritz Maytag III purchased tiny Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco and turned a profit by concentrating on high-quality, small-batch beer. This is the seed of America’s craft-brewery movement, one that would require decades more nurturing before it blossoms. Also, the ring pull can debuted, rendering tab and twist-off tops obsolete.

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Evening Standard/Getty Images

1966

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.25
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.95 (#15 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 158

Anheuser-Busch continued its aggressive expansion, adding another million barrels of capacity by opening its third of what is now 12 breweries in Houston, Texas. This enabled the company to become the first brewery to cross the 10 million barrels a year mark.

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DOMINICK REUTER/AFP // Getty Images

1967

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.26
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.93 (#16 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 153

A 4.2% ABV pale lager called Gablinger's Diet Beer debuts in 1967, hoping to capture a market that had eluded Coors prior to World War II: America’s health-conscious beer drinker. Gablinger’s fails, too, but the inventor sells the recipe to Meister Brau which is eventually acquired by Miller and turned into the world’s first successful light beer, reborn as Miller Lite in 1973.

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Pixabay

1968

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.26
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.89 (#17 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 148

While Vietnam War protests roiled other campuses, students at Colorado State University held a “beer-in” to protest the university’s conservative policies, including a campus beer ban. They won the right to have greater say in how the school was run, including rescinding the beer ban.

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Evening Standard // Getty Images

1969

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.27
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.83 (#18 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 143

For the first time in America’s beer-drinking history, cans outsold bottles and drafts. Aluminum was lighter and therefore cheaper to transport, kept beer colder longer, and proved more durable than glass. Bottles would never again regain top favor.

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Richard Bartlaga // Flickr

1970

- Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.28
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.79 (#20 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 138

Americans’ love of malted barley continued as they downed 134.7 million barrels in 1970. Milwaukee’s Schlitz became the world’s largest brewery, but after a series of critical missteps in forthcoming years, including a recall of 10 million tainted bottles in 1976, the brewery went under less than 30 years later.

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Davis Staedtler // Flickr

1971

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.29
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.80 (#19 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 133

In a year when tobacco behemoth Philip Morris purchased Miller Brewing Co., regional brewers resorted to desperate measures to fend off brewing giants: Pittsburgh Brewing Company debuted a Gatorade-like malt liquor called Hop'n Gator. Hamm Brewing launched Right Time in two colors—red for women and gold for men. Texas’ Lone Star Brewing Company swung for the fences with its tangy Lime Lager.

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Michael Styne // Flickr

1972

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.29
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.75 (#21 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 128

Two critical developments occurred in the beer-and-hops mad state of Oregon in 1972: 1) The legislature enacted the nation’s first container deposit law. 2) First developed in Corvallis, Ore., growers released the vaunted Cascade hops to brewers nationwide, and it quickly became a fixture in American craft beers—and still is to this day.

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Keystone // Getty Images

1973

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.29
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.63 (#23 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 122

More regional breweries bit the dust this year. Indiana’s Old Crown Brewing Corporation put out its last pint. Schlitz retired the George Muehlebach Brewing Company it has owned since 1956.

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slgckgc // Flickr

1974

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.32
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.60 (#25 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 116

On June 4, 1974, one of the all-time great sports blunders occurs when Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians ran a promotion now known infamously as Ten Cent Beer Night. Heavily intoxicated fans rioted in the ninth inning forcing the Indians to forfeit the game. Numerous injuries were reported. The Indians didn’t run the promotion again.

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pxhere

1975

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.36
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.65 (#22 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 110

Americans guzzled some 157.9 million barrels of beer in 1975. Even those on the East Coast could now stock their beer fridges with Coors as the Colorado mega-brewery started shipping cases to the East Coast, beginning distribution in northern New Jersey.

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U3144362 // Wikimedia Commons

1976

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.37
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.61 (#24 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 103

Bob Abel’s “The Book of Beer” came out and became an underground hit among beer lovers. One chapter chronicles the decline of small and regional breweries in America and laments that America’s best brewing days are behind it.

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Piqsels

1977

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.37
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.54 (#26 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 96

British author Michael Jackson published “The World Guide to Beer,” which went on to sell millions of copies worldwide. Considered the beer bible, hops enthusiasts credit the book with sparking the craft-beer revolution to come. It remains in print after 1988 and 1997 updates. In other beer news, President Jimmy Carter's brother debuted his infamous Billy Beer.

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Tim Patterson // Flickr

1978

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.39
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.49 (#27 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 89

The deregulation that eventually allowed America’s small brewers to once again flourish begins in earnest as the federal government decriminalizes homebrewing. States could now decide for themselves whether to allow beer making at home.

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WolfmanSF // Wikimedia Commons

1979

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.43
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.45 (#30 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 90

At the close of the decade, something different was brewing in America’s beer industry as the nation’s rapid decline in breweries stalled. While major brand consolidation continued, local, homegrown beer scenes emerged across the country. Nascent and isolated to booming cities like San Francisco and Boston, small-batch breweries began sprouting up and showing Americans what good beer looks, smells, and tastes like.

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The ed17 // Wikimedia Commons

1980

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.48
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.42 (#44 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 92

Americans quaffed 188.4 million barrels in 1980. Famous California microbrewery, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, released its first batch in November. After struggling financially for the first few years, Sierra Nevada went on to become one of the largest and most influential independent breweries in America.

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Minnaert // Wikimedia Commons

1981

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.51
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.40 (#55 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 92

In 1981, America neared peak consolidation as the top-five breweries controlled 75.9% of the market and the 10 largest breweries own 93.9% of the market. Back in 1947, those percentages were 19% and 28.2%, respectively.

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Pixabay

1982

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.54
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.41 (#50 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 93

While the consolidation of major brands continued, other events portended a more diverse future as the first-annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF) was held in Boulder, Colo.—now America's oldest and largest beer fest. Plus, 1982 experienced the birth of the brewpub when Yakima Brewing and Malting Co. in Washington became the first establishment in America granted a license to serve food alongside its own beer.

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Scott Blackwell // Flickr

1983

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.57
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.44 (#36 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 93

While the top-six breweries now controlled 92% of production, small breweries started to appear. Michigan’s oldest and largest craft brewery, Bell’s Brewery, opened in Comstock, Mich.

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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

1984

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.59
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.43 (#40 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 97

The microbrewery revolution was officially underway as openings surged nationwide: Riley-Lyon in Arkansas, Boulder Brewing Company in Colorado, Snake River Brewery in Wyoming, Millstream of Iowa, Columbia River Brewing in Oregon, Kessler in Montana, and Chesapeake Bay Brewing in Maryland. Meanwhile, Manhattan Brewing Co. in New York City's Soho neighborhood becomes the first brewpub on the East Coast.

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sashimomura // Flickr

1985

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.60
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.41 (#47 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 110

A suds savior appeared in Boston and returned brewing to the city that went without a dedicated brewery since 1964. Jim Koch rents space in the former Haffenreffer brewery building and begins work on his formula for Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Two years later, he releases Boston Beer Company’s first batch.

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Allagash Brewing // Flickr

1986

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.61
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.42 (#41 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 124

The last couple of years saw a wave of brewery openings and the trend was just getting started. 1986 remains as a landmark year that saw iconic brands like Alaskan, Harpoon, and Summit Brewing release their first beers.

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Linda // Flickr

1987

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.62
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.39 (#57 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 150

Milwaukee, long considered America’s brewery capital, got its first true microbrewery when Lakefront Brewery delivered its first keg to Gordon Park Pub. Food and wine mecca Napa Valley, Calif., also welcomed its first brewery, Napa Valley Brewing Company.

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Karen Neoh // Flickr

1988

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.64
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.37 (#59 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 199

In what some consider the “most important year” for craft beer, many enduring breweries debuted: Great Lakes Brewing, Brooklyn Brewery, Rogue Ales & Spirits, Deschutes Brewery, Goose Island Beer Co., North Coast Brewing, and future Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper opened Wynkoop Brewing in Denver. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Brown Derby, the in-house beer brand of Safeway grocery stores, ceased production.

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TheDigitel Beaufort // Flickr

1989

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.67
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.35 (#63 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 247

In 1989, Tiny Otto Brothers’ Brewing in Wyoming resurrected growlers—pail-like casks that beer drinkers used to haul draft beer home from the bar in the era before refrigeration and mass can and bottle distribution. Owner Charlie Otto put his label on an empty half-gallon cider jug and declared the growler reborn.

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Pxhere

1990

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.70
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.34 (#68 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 284

In 1990 craft beer cracked the mainstream as a new decade unfolded. Once barely able to survive, the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, Calif., produced 31,000 barrels of beer this year, becoming the first start-up microbrewery to break the 25,000 barrels-a-year mark.

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DisobeyArt // Shutterstock

1991

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.78
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.45 (#29 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 312

As craft beer flooded the market, some regulators were caught looking foolish. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TAB) rescinded its ban on Dixie Blackened Voodoo Lager Beer amid public outcry and threats of retaliation by Louisiana lawmakers. TAB claimed the beer conjured “images of witchcraft and the occult.”

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Adam Barhan // Flickr

1992

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.81
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.46 (#28 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 359

After just two years in business, Colorado’s third microbrewery, Breckenridge Brewery, outgrew its mountain-town facility and moved production to Denver. This indicated big things for the operation as it became one of the nation’s first microbreweries to sell out to a brewing behemoth when it reached a purchase agreement with Anheuser InBev in 2015.

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Mr.TinDC // Flickr

1993

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.81
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.42 (#43 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 446

It’s another banner year for craft brewery openings, several of which endure to this day. That list includes Vino’s Brewpub (Arkansas), Red Brick Brewing (Georgia), Mickey Finn’s (Illinois), Bluegrass Brewing (Kentucky), Oliver Breweries (Maryland), and Palmetto Brewing (South Carolina).

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FXQuadro // Shutterstock

1994

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.81
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.39 (#58 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 601

In California alone, there were 84 microbreweries or brewpubs in operation. That’s one more than there were total breweries in the nation 10 years earlier.

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Bernt Rostad // Flickr

1995

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.81
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.35 (#64 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 858

It’s a brewery sprint across America as four new breweries open every week in 1995. That includes trailblazing Rhode Island brewery Dogfish Head, which would go on to ignite America’s obsession with heavy IPAs.

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Max Pixel

1996

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.84
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.36 (#61 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 1,149

Brew City’s oldest brewery, Pabst, closed its Milwaukee brewery where it had churned out cheap lager since 1844. The brand laid off its entire brewery staff and began contracting out its brewing to other breweries.

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Mike Mozart // Flickr

1997

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.84
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.34 (#67 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 1,396

Amid the explosion in craft breweries, Michigan’s award-winning Founders Brewing opened in Grand Rapids. And Georgia got another acclaimed brewery when SweetWater, specializing in unpasteurized beers, opened in Atlanta.

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Master1305 // Shutterstock

1998

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.86
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.35 (#65 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 1,514

Of the 1,514 breweries operating in America in 1998, over 1,000 were brewpubs, which were illegal just 20 years prior. An additional 420 were classified as microbreweries, a designation that didn’t exist 20 years before.

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Hakan Tanak // Shutterstock

1999

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.88
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.34 (#66 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 1,564

In 1999 Montana allowed breweries to conduct on-site beer sales. Craft breweries began opening tap rooms weeks later.

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Master1305 // Shutterstock

2000

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.92
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.36 (#62 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 1,566

At the beginning of the new millennium, there were officially more breweries operating in the U.S. than in any other country. All those fermentation tanks churned out a record 200 million barrels of beer.

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Ievgenii Meyer // Shutterstock

2001

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.96
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.39 (#56 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 1,545

In 2001 craft beer sales in America surpassed $3 billion for the first time. Leading the way were top-three producers Boston Beer Co., Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing. Anheuser-Busch began testing a low-carb light beer called Michelob Ultra.

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Scott Olson // Getty Images

2002

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $0.99
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.41 (#52 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 1,513

South African Breweries (SAB) bought leading producer Miller Brewing Company for $5.6 billion. The combined company became the world’s second-largest brewer.

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DisobeyArt // Shutterstock

2003

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.01
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.41 (#51 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 1,485

Coors entered the low-carb race with its doomed Aspen Edge. The Pacific Northwest lost its last large-scale brewery when SABMiller announced the closure of its 1.7 million barrels a year Tumwater, Wash., facility.

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velkr0 // Flickr

2004

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.07
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.44 (#32 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 1,468

Colorado mega-brewery Coors and Canadian biggie Molson announced a merger to become the world’s fifth-largest brewer.

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Infrogmation of New Orleans // Wikimedia Commons

2005

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.09
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.42 (#42 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 1,447

Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, knocking out the Big Easy’s oldest brewery, Dixie. After 14 years of using contract brewers, the beer returned home (well, New Orleans East to be exact) in 2019.

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Joey Parsons // Flickr

2006

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.11
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.41 (#46 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 1,460

Anheuser-Busch purchased Rolling Rock and moved production from Latrobe, Pa., where it’s been brewed since 1939, to New Jersey.

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Viacheslav Nikolaenko // Shutterstock

2007

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.12
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.37 (#60 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 1,511

In 2007, the Brewers Association tweaked its definition of craft brewer to better reflect the growing and diverse sector. The definition includes the three pillars of craft brewing—small, independent, and traditional—but loosens the meaning of what is “traditional,” thereby allowing more room for innovation in the industry.

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Katherine Johnson // Flickr

2008

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.16
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.42 (#45 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 1,574

In 2008 the world’s biggest brewery was born—or rather merged. Belgian brewing company InBev bought Anheuser-Busch for $52 billion. But for the first time ever, America’s biggest brewer was no longer…American. The headquarters for the combined company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, is in Belgium.

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Jacob Lund // Shutterstock

2009

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.21
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.44 (#35 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 1,653

With some of America’s strictest laws on alcohol consumption, Utah finally showed signs of loosening their regulations. The state now permits customers to enter a bar without filling out applications and paying a fee to become a member of a “private club.”

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AntGor // Shutterstock

2010

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.23
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.44 (#34 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 1,813

Craft beer now generated over $7 billion a year in America, with sales doubling in just a decade. Overall beer sales declined 1%, yet craft beer bucked the trend and grew at an 11% clip.

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Goran Jakus // Shutterstock

2011

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.24
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.41 (#48 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 2,047

Imports now accounted for more cases of beer sold than domestics. Mexican lagers like Corona, the country’s favorite import, led the way.

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Pressmaster // Shutterstock

2012

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.25
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.40 (#54 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 2,475

After decades of consolidation among themselves, the world’s major brewers began eyeing the craft sector. This year marked the beginning of an ongoing trend of macros buying micros.

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Danielle Griscti // Flickr

2013

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.28
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.41 (#49 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 2,952

The last two homebrew holdouts—Alabama and Mississippi—ended their prohibition on making beer at home. While dry counties may continue banning it, home brewing opened up everywhere else in the two Gulf Coast states.

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Quinn Dombrowski // Flickr

2014

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.28
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.40 (#53 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 3,785

Over one new brewery opened every day in 2014. And these small producers gobbled up an ever-increasing share of the beer market; while overall beer production declined 1.4%, craft and microbrewed beers grew almost 10%.

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Ben Ramsey // Flickr

2015

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.32
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.43 (#38 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 4,588

As of 2015, there were officially more breweries operating in America than ever before. And the biggest got even bigger as Anheuser-Busch InBev bought rival SABMiller.

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rblfmr // Shutterstock

2016

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.35
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.44 (#37 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 5,491

A new beverage arrived in full force this year: sparkling seltzers. Both micro- and macro-breweries raced to formulate their own hard seltzers to compete with sector titan White Claw.

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digidreamgrafix // Shutterstock

2017

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.39
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.45 (#31 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 6,372

With the explosive growth of craft breweries came a new concern: Does America have too many breweries? 2017 was a banner year for brewery openings…but also for closures.

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bondvit // Shutterstock

2018

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.41
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.44 (#33 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: 7,450

While overall production edged slightly down to 194 million barrels, America’s beer industry was bigger than ever in 2018. $114 billion of beer was sold, $27 billion of which was craft beer. Imports accounted for 18% of the market, craft beer commanded 13%, and big producers churned out the remainder.

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George Rudy // Shutterstock

2019

- Price of a 16-ounce beer: $1.43
- Inflation-adjusted price: $1.43 (#39 most expensive in last 68 years)
- Number of U.S. breweries: not available

Has America reached peak craft beer? Many analysts believe so as microbrewery and brewpub closings have skyrocketed the last two years in what is seeming more and more like an oversaturated market. With consumers growing increasingly health-conscious and younger generations eschewing alcohol altogether, is America on the precipice of another decline in its brewing industry? Only time will tell if we are now living in a brewery bubble.

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