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The cost of a beer the year you turned 21

  • 1972

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.29
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.78 (#21 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 128
    - U.S. beer production: 140.3 million barrels (+4.6% change from previous year)

    Two critical developments occurred in the beer-and-hops mad state of Oregon in 1972: 1) The legislature enacted the nation’s first container deposit law. 2) First developed in Corvallis, Ore., growers released the vaunted Cascade hops to brewers nationwide, and it quickly became a fixture in American craft beers—and still is to this day.

  • 1973

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.29
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.70 (#23 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 122
    - U.S. beer production: 143.0 million barrels (+1.9% change from previous year)

    More regional breweries bit the dust this year. Indiana’s Old Crown Brewing Corporation put out its last pint. Schlitz retired the George Muehlebach Brewing Company it has owned since 1956.

  • 1974

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.32
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.68 (#24 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 116
    - U.S. beer production: 153.1 million barrels (+7.0% change from previous year)

    On June 4, 1974, one of the all-time great sports blunders occurs when Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians ran a promotion now known infamously as Ten Cent Beer Night. Heavily intoxicated fans rioted in the ninth inning forcing the Indians to forfeit the game. Numerous injuries were reported. The Indians didn’t run the promotion again.

  • 1975

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.36
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.71 (#22 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 110
    - U.S. beer production: 157.9 million barrels (+3.1% change from previous year)

    Americans guzzled some 157.9 million barrels of beer in 1975. Even those on the East Coast could now stock their beer fridges with Coors as the Colorado mega-brewery started shipping cases to the East Coast, beginning distribution in northern New Jersey.

  • 1976

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.37
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.65 (#25 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 103
    - U.S. beer production: 160.7 million barrels (+1.8% change from previous year)

    Bob Abel’s “The Book of Beer” came out and became an underground hit among beer lovers. One chapter chronicles the decline of small and regional breweries in America and laments that America’s best brewing days are behind it.

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  • 1977

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.37
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.58 (#26 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 96
    - U.S. beer production: 172.2 million barrels (+7.2% change from previous year)

    British author Michael Jackson published “The World Guide to Beer,” which went on to sell millions of copies worldwide. Considered the beer bible, hops enthusiasts credit the book with sparking the craft-beer revolution to come. It remains in print after 1988 and 1997 updates. In other beer news, President Jimmy Carter's brother debuted his infamous Billy Beer.

  • 1978

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.39
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.55 (#27 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 89
    - U.S. beer production: 171.6 million barrels (-0.3% change from previous year)

    The deregulation that eventually allowed America’s small brewers to once again flourish begins in earnest as the federal government decriminalizes homebrewing. States could now decide for themselves whether to allow beer making at home.

  • 1979

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.43
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.54 (#28 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 90
    - U.S. beer production: 183.5 million barrels (+6.9% change from previous year)

    At the close of the decade, something different was brewing in America’s beer industry as the nation’s rapid decline in breweries stalled. While major brand consolidation continued, local, homegrown beer scenes emerged across the country. Nascent and isolated to booming cities like San Francisco and Boston, small-batch breweries began sprouting up and showing Americans what good beer looks, smells, and tastes like.

  • 1980

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.48
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.49 (#29 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 92
    - U.S. beer production: 188.4 million barrels (+2.6% change from previous year)

    Americans quaffed 188.4 million barrels in 1980. Famous California microbrewery, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, released its first batch in November. After struggling financially for the first few years, Sierra Nevada went on to become one of the largest and most influential independent breweries in America.

  • 1981

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.51
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.45 (#39 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 92
    - U.S. beer production: 193.7 million barrels (+2.8% change from previous year)

    In 1981, America neared peak consolidation as the top-five breweries controlled 75.9% of the market and the 10 largest breweries own 93.9% of the market. Back in 1947, those percentages were 19% and 28.2%, respectively.

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