Number of breweries in U.S. hits 125-year high

The number of breweries in the United States is at its highest level since 1887, at 2,126 as of June.

This number represents an increase of 350 breweries over June 2011, according to a report by the Boulder-based Brewers Association. In 1887, the U.S. was home to 2,011 breweries.

The report also shows that there are 1,252 breweries in the planning phases across the country, up from 725 this time last year. The highest number of breweries recorded was approximately 4,000, in 1873.

The first half of 2012 has been lucrative for craft brewers, according to the report. Brewers have seen a 14 percent increase year-over-year in dollar sales and a 12 percent increase in volume.

Overall beer sales in the U.S. are up about 1 percent, year-over-year in the first six months of the year.

“Generally, most craft brewers are continuing to see strong growth in production, sales, brewing capacity and employment, which is to be celebrated during challenged times for many of today’s small businesses,´ said Brewers Association President Paul Gatza.

“Plus it’s a fact that beer drinkers are responding to the quality and diversity created by small American brewing companies. India pale ales, seasonal beers, Belgian-inspired ales and a range of specialty beers are just a few of the beer styles that are growing rapidly,” Gatza said.

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