Craft brewing segment shows strong first half – up 9%

The Brewers Association today released strong mid-year numbers for America's small and independent craft brewers. Dollar sales were up 12 percent in the first half of 2010, compared to 9 percent growth during the same period in 2009. Volume of craft brewed beer sold grew 9 percent for the first six months in 2010, compared to 5 percent growth in the first half of 2009.

Craft breweries continue to grow despite many challenges, and currently provide an estimated 100,000 jobs and contribute significantly to the U.S. economy. Barrels sold by craft brewers for the first half of the year are an estimated 4.6 million, compared to 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 Brewers Association. “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.”

The U.S. now boasts 1,625 breweries—an increase of 100 additional breweries since July of 2009—and the highest number in 100 years. A century ago in 1910, consolidation and the run-up to Prohibition had reduced the number of breweries 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,” Gatza added. “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.”