The Daily Parker

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Craft Brewery Central

By one measure, Chicago is the Craft Beer Capital of the U.S.:

Craft brewers in the Chicago area occupy an estimated 1.6 million square feet of commercial real estate, more than any other metro area in the country, according to a report from Seattle-based brokerage Colliers International. The area also has the second-most craft breweries with 144, behind only Portland, Ore.'s 196.

And craft beer—defined as being made by small, independent brewers—is still growing here. Just four U.S. markets have more breweries in the planning stages than the 39 in Chicago. (This was Colliers' first report on the subject, making comparisons to past years difficult.)

Never has Chicago had so many breweries. The last peak was around the start of the 20th century, when the city had about 60 small breweries that combined to produce about 100 million gallons of beer a year (compared with 12.4 million in 2014). Prohibition wiped out most of them. The few that survived into the middle of the century were either purchased by rivals or shut down, victims of national beer brands that gobbled up much of the market by selling less-expensive beer in cans.

I have expressed concern about the big guys buying up the craft guys, but this new statistic warms my heart. We might still have craft beer in Chicago come 2050...

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