BA Brewery Statistics – how reliable are they?

In the most recent edition of The New Brewer published by the Brewers Association they rank microbreweries and brewpubs by capacity and draw conclusions about the growth of the industry using the statistics. Its an admirable endeavor, but quantitative analysis is only as good as the data you generate to come to conclusions – in other words garbage in, garbage out.

From what I understand the BA sends out surveys every year and relies on the responses to generate data. While this is an easy route to take, it leaves open the very real possibility for errors that then bring in to question the overall accuracy of everything they subsequently present. This is going to become an even more daunting task as new breweries open and old breweries expand, but perhaps they should hire some telemarketers to call around in an attempt to at least verify their assumptions are correct. I thought of this as I perused the most recent issue and noticed that the Draughthouse in Austin, Texas was listed as having produced 375 barrels of beer in 2013 – despite the fact that they sold off all of their equipment and did not brew a single drop last year (they do intend to brew this year once a new system is installed late this summer). Also note there is along list of breweries that refuse to comment at the end of all the tables. Data is then used to create info graphics showing the rise of craft beer in each category.

Draughthouse miraculously makes beer without equipment according to the BA.

Draughthouse miraculously makes beer without equipment according to the BA.

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