Beer, Wine & Spirits

Beer industry hits milestone not seen in more than 100 years

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The beer brewing business in the United States continues to reach levels not seen in well over a century.

The Brewers Association reports the total number of breweries in operation at the end of June has topped the 3,000 mark.

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Brewers Association economist Bart Watson writes: "Although precise numbers from the 19th century are difficult to confirm, this is likely the first time the United States has crossed the 3,000 brewery barrier since the 1870s."

So what number marks the top? According to Watson, it's believed the high point for total breweries in operation was 4,131, which occurred in 1873.

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The U.S. could be well on its way to passing that mark, as Watson says there are another 2,000 breweries in planning in the Brewers Association database.

Can the market sustain all these breweries? We spoke with Watson regarding that issue last October, and he said he had reason to believe supply still isn't meeting demand. (To read the full interview, click here.)

—By CNBC's Tom Rotunno