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The cost of a beer the year you turned 21

  • 1982

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.54
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.43 (#48 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 93
    - U.S. beer production: 194.3 million barrels (+0.3% change from previous year)

    While the consolidation of major brands continued, other events portended a more diverse future as the first-annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF) was held in Boulder, Colo.—now America's oldest and largest beer fest. Plus, 1982 experienced the birth of the brewpub when Yakima Brewing and Malting Co. in Washington became the first establishment in America granted a license to serve food alongside its own beer.

  • 1983

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.57
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.47 (#33 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 93
    - U.S. beer production: 195.1 million barrels (+0.4% change from previous year)

    While the top-six breweries now controlled 92% of production, small breweries started to appear. Michigan’s oldest and largest craft brewery, Bell’s Brewery, opened in Comstock, Mich.

  • 1984

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.59
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.45 (#36 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 97
    - U.S. beer production: 193.0 million barrels (-1.1% change from previous year)

    The microbrewery revolution was officially underway as openings surged nationwide: Riley-Lyon in Arkansas, Boulder Brewing Company in Colorado, Snake River Brewery in Wyoming, Millstream of Iowa, Columbia River Brewing in Oregon, Kessler in Montana, and Chesapeake Bay Brewing in Maryland. Meanwhile, Manhattan Brewing Co. in New York City's Soho neighborhood becomes the first brewpub on the East Coast.

  • 1985

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.60
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.44 (#43 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 110
    - U.S. beer production: 193.3 million barrels (+0.1% change from previous year)

    A suds savior appeared in Boston and returned brewing to the city that went without a dedicated brewery since 1964. Jim Koch rents space in the former Haffenreffer brewery building and begins work on his formula for Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Two years later, he releases Boston Beer Company’s first batch.

  • 1986

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.61
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.44 (#45 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 124
    - U.S. beer production: 196.5 million barrels (+1.7% change from previous year)

    The last couple of years saw a wave of brewery openings and the trend was just getting started. 1986 remains as a landmark year that saw iconic brands like Alaskan, Harpoon, and Summit Brewing release their first beers.

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  • 1987

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.62
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.41 (#53 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 150
    - U.S. beer production: 195.4 million barrels (-0.5% change from previous year)

    Milwaukee, long considered America’s brewery capital, got its first true microbrewery when Lakefront Brewery delivered its first keg to Gordon Park Pub. Food and wine mecca Napa Valley, Calif., also welcomed its first brewery, Napa Valley Brewing Company.

  • 1988

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.64
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.40 (#57 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 199
    - U.S. beer production: 198.0 million barrels (+1.3% change from previous year)

    In what some consider the “most important year” for craft beer, many enduring breweries debuted: Great Lakes Brewing, Brooklyn Brewery, Rogue Ales & Spirits, Deschutes Brewery, Goose Island Beer Co., North Coast Brewing, and future Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper opened Wynkoop Brewing in Denver. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Brown Derby, the in-house beer brand of Safeway grocery stores, ceased production.

  • 1989

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.67
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.38 (#62 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 247
    - U.S. beer production: 200.1 million barrels (+1.1% change from previous year)

    In 1989, Tiny Otto Brothers’ Brewing in Wyoming resurrected growlers—pail-like casks that beer drinkers used to haul draft beer home from the bar in the era before refrigeration and mass can and bottle distribution. Owner Charlie Otto put his label on an empty half-gallon cider jug and declared the growler reborn.

  • 1990

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.70
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.37 (#65 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 284
    - U.S. beer production: 203.7 million barrels (+1.8% change from previous year)

    In 1990 craft beer cracked the mainstream as a new decade unfolded. Once barely able to survive, the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, Calif., produced 31,000 barrels of beer this year, becoming the first start-up microbrewery to break the 25,000 barrels-a-year mark.

  • 1991

    - Price of a 16-oz beer: $0.78
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $1.47 (#31 most expensive in last 68 years)
    - Number of U.S. breweries: 312
    - U.S. beer production: 202.4 million barrels (-0.6% change from previous year)

    As craft beer flooded the market, some regulators were caught looking foolish. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TAB) rescinded its ban on Dixie Blackened Voodoo Lager Beer amid public outcry and threats of retaliation by Louisiana lawmakers. TAB claimed the beer conjured “images of witchcraft and the occult.”

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