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I'll Toast to That: U.S. Brewery Count Hits All-Time Record

Glass Bottle Manufacture At Ruscam Kirishi OJSC Plant
Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Got a hankering for a local beer? You're in luck: There are now more U.S. breweries than at any other point in recorded American history. According to data released today by the Brewers Association, there were 4,269 operating breweries in the country at the end of 2015, surpassing the previous record logged all the way back in 1873 when a lack of transportation and refrigeration meant breweries had to be local.

"Prior to the late 1800s, the market for breweries was essentially the distance a horse drawn cart could travel out and back in a day," Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association, said in an e-mail. As the invention of refrigerated railcars and pasteurization expanded the range beer could travel, the number of breweries fell rapidly. That is, until the craft beer movement came to life in the 1980s, a trend that has continued to grow for decades.