Paul Gatza, the director of the Brewers Association added a comment to an earlier post about how the BA arrives at its head-count. I'm bumping that comment up to a separate post because it contains a huge amount of useful info.
I will add that my experience is that the staff at the BA is extraordinarily helpful and generous with their time. They could run seminars on how to do "public reach out."
And Paul is, like everyone else at the BA, an amazingly pleasant, lovely human being. I've only met him a couple of times, but this is a guy with quality! It's also worth noting that, as was the case 25 years ago, when the organization was just getting off the ground, the BA still relies on reports from the frontlines. Put another way, they've maintained their original mission of including the "public" in the organization.
So if you know of a new brewery, or one that's not around anymore, do let them know. They absolutely welcome the input.
Anyway, from Paul:
"Here’s some background so everyone is on the same page with the Brewers Association “brewery count.” There are two numbers you may see published by the BA. For either count we are talking about brick-and-mortar facilities where beer is made and then sold. "One number is the annual count of operating breweries at specific point in time. This is a calendar year number for the BA’s annual craft brewing industry stats that includes each facility that brewed commercial beer in a calendar year. "This number includes brewers that brewed for some or all of the year. It does not include facilities where beer has not been brewed in a calendar year, even if that is a “store” of a restaurant group that also includes brewpubs. "The “annual” count for 2008 is 1501 craft brewers out of 1545 U.S. operating breweries. BA publishes the annual statistical report in the May/June issue of the new brewer. "One tricky piece is when do we inactivate a brewery. In general if we get word a place hasn’t brewed in a month and doesn’t seem likely to in the near future, we will inactivate them. "There are many very small breweries where a batch may normally last for, say, four months. and they may only brew three times a year. A brewery like this would be considered active by the BA as that fills the company’s demand and isn’t a true shutdown. "Another model we see in specific places is a brewery that is supplied by another facility in a group of brewers (usually a restaurant group) yet brews maybe as little as once per year in order to keep a permit active or for other reasons. "Yeah, it gets grey, and we need to use our judgment sometimes. Another place our counts are imperfect is that it often takes us time to get a status change through the natural course of information–for example, brewers telling the BA that they have closed isn’t usually high on their priority list–and we have to get that information on tips, media reports or online sites and then do the research and make the call. The same applies to brewery openings, but to a lesser degree. "We love tips to research if anyone notices a listing on our online Brewery Locator that they believe to be incorrect. BA’s Membership Coordinator & Brewery Detective Erin Glass (with her trenchcoat and magnifying glass) is our crack investigator. "We pull a report of this active brewery information from our database once per month based on the data in our database on the last day of the month. This “active breweries” count would be expected to be lower than the most recent “annual” count as it would not include brewers that closed in current year, past year, but would include current year openings. "The current count is used generally for media inquiries, our mid-year stat review and our member mailings and emailings in our Craft Brewers Fact Sheet. , we could publish the current count online each month. Now that the Craft Brewers Conference has wrapped, we are redesigning the professional division site and can do some more with the craft stats if there is interest and a benefit for BA members."