Business: U.S. Craft Brewers Tap Solid Mid-year Growth

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Business: U.S. Craft Brewers Tap Solid Mid-year Growth


Small and independent craft brewers in the United States have performed well so far in 2010, according to the Brewers Association (BA). The organization said dollar sales were up 12 percent in the first half of 2010, vs. 9 percent growth in the year-ago period, while volume of craft brewed beer sold increased 9 percent for the first six months in 2010, compared with 5 percent growth in the first half of 2009.

Additionally, the estimated barrels sold by craft brewers for the first half of the year was 4.6 million, vs. 4.2 million barrels sold in the first half of 2009.

“While craft brewer sales volume climbed 9 percent in the first half of 2010, overall U.S. beer industry volume sales are down 2.7 percent so far,” noted Paul Gatza, director of the Boulder, Colo.-based not-for-profit trade and education association representing the majority of U.S. brewing companies. “There is a movement by beer lovers to the innovative and flavorful beers created by America’s small and independent craft brewers. More people are starting to think of craft-brewed beer first when they buy in restaurants, bars and stores.”

There are currently 1,625 breweries in the United States, a rise of 100 since July 2009, and the highest number in a century, the association said, explaining that in 1910, consolidation and a moral and political climate that eventually led to Prohibition had lowered the number to 1,498.

“Entrepreneurs across the land are creating jobs by opening new microbreweries and brewpubs, and we are also seeing many homebrewing hobbyists going pro by starting what have been referred to as nanobreweries,” continued Gatza. “Super-tiny microbreweries or brew pubs, that make beer for a very localized network of taverns and stores, are starting to become a trend, primarily in the states that allow self-distribution as a means of getting beer to market.”

Craft breweries employ an estimated 10,000 workers. The BA’s definition of a small brewery is one whose annual production of beer is fewer than 2 million barrels.