Craft brewers set new sales record

The American craft brewing industry is reaching new heights, with sales hitting $8.7 billion in 2011, a 15 percent annual increase, according to the latest industry study conducted by the Brewers Association.
Fort Collins is home to some of the better-known craft brewers in the nation, notably New Belgium.
The Boulder-based trade association for small and independent brewers said that, in 2011, craft brewers produced 5.68 percent of the beer, measured by volume, consumed by the U.S. beer market, crossing the 5 percent threshold for the first time. Nearly 11.5 million barrels were sold.

In 2010, craft beers represented 4.97 percent sales by volume. Retail sales totaled $7.6 billion.

In terms of sales, craft beer now has a 9.1 percent share of the $95.5 billion dollar U.S. beer market.

The gains came at a time when the total amount of beer consumed by Americans actually shrank, said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association.

“While the overall beer market experienced a 1.32 percent volume decrease in 2011, craft brewing saw significant growth, surpassing 5 percent total market volume share for the first time,” Gatza said in the release. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that with the variety of styles and flavors to choose from, Americans are developing a strong taste for high-quality, small-batch beer from independent brewers.”

At the end of 2011, 1,989 breweries were operating in the U.S., with 250 opening and 37 closing, the release said. Small brewers employed approximately 103,585 workers in the U.S. in 2011.

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