Since that time with four brewing concerns plying their wares, people interested in Rochester’s beer scene have asked me repeatedly, “Do you think Rochester can support another brewery?” Many of these people are surprised to hear me say, “We can easily support twice as many.” In the past two months, two more small production breweries with taprooms have been announced and I am getting the question more often than ever before. With the most recent announcement the local paper placed “Another craft brewery in Rochester?” on the front page, in red, above the banner. So it is time to look at some data.
Using U.S. Census Bureau 2016 population estimates and the Brewers Association’s Official Brewery Directory, I looked at a few places of similar size to Rochester. Bend, Oregon had a 2016 population of 91,122 and 40 brewing concerns or one per 2,278 residents. Boulder, Colorado had a population of 108,090 and 28 breweries and brewpubs or one per 3,860 residents.
I am not suggesting that Rochester could have the density of breweries and brewpubs seen in either Bend or Boulder, but there is room to grow. Let’s look at The Twin Ports of Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin. Their combined 2016 population was 112,768 and those two cities are currently home to 10 breweries and brewpubs or one per 11,277 residents.
Rochester’s 2016 population was 114,011. With four brewing concerns that is one per 28,503 residents. Once two more places open, that will be one per 19,002 residents. Both Duluth and Rochester get a high number of visitors each year. Duluth’s Convention and Visitors Bureau says they welcomed 6.7 million guests in 2016. Rochester’s Convention and Visitors Bureau says it hosted more than 3 million overnight guests. People visit these places for different reasons and that can play a role, but Rochester will do just fine once it has four breweries with taprooms and two brewpubs. I think there is even more room for growth; after all, Rochester is a growing city.