Interactive ‘Rise of Craft Beer’ map negates SC growth


One of the more viral craft beer-related bits of news to make the rounds lately was an interactive map published on the website of The New Yorker magazine that showcased the growth of craft beer across the country during 2012. The map’s usefulness was touted all over social media as a way to dive into where craft beer is growing the most in the U.S. and who’s got bragging rights.

According to the map, South Carolina had 16 craft breweries in operation last year, putting us at No. 36 nationally. Palmetto State craft brewers produced 34,496 barrels of beer (36th nationally), an increase of 25.44% from 2011 (20th nationally), and we have 1.7 craft breweries for every 500,000 people (39th nationally). But as you dig down further into the data, which was provided by the Brewers Association, one upsetting piece of information arises: According to them, zero new craft breweries opened in SC last year.

I tweeted out that information last week and got a flurry of upset and confused responses from people pointing out that we did have one new brewery open in 2012: Ridgeland’s River Dog Brewing Co. I wondered why they might have been left off, so I put on my journalist cap and decided to dig a little deeper.

What I found out was this: The Brewers Association did, in fact, mess up in the data collection and negated to include the growth in the number of SC craft breweries last year.

Since the list of 2012 openings is easily accessible online, I looked for a 2011 list but didn’t have any luck in finding one. Thinking there might be some criteria that would have lumped both River Dog into the 2011 openings list, I reached out to the Brewers Association to find out what happened.

According to Marketing Coordinator Spencer Powlison, both breweries should have been included on the 2012 list.

“Tracking down breweries that open is a very manual, tedious process, and we often update numbers later in the year when we discover that breweries have in fact opened,” Powlison told me in an email.

As for what criteria the BA uses when defining and “opening,” Powlison said a brewery is considered open the day it sells its first commercial beer. I assume River Dog falls into that category.

(Note: If the BA is counting 16 total craft breweries open in SC last year, that list would likely include River Dog.)

And now you know. The next time someone laughs and tries to tell you South Carolina didn’t have any craft beer growth in 2012, put them in their place. Let’s hope the BA does include the five new craft breweries opening in SC in 2013 in their list next year.

A previous version of this story identified Charleston’s Forthy Beard Brewing Co. as having opened in 2012, but the brewery did not start selling beer until 2013. The error has been corrected.