Boston Beer Co. fourth-quarter profit jumped 46% as the brewer reported higher shipment volumes, slightly higher pricing and an extra week in the reporting period for 2011 versus 2010.

The company reported a profit of $17.8 million, or $1.33 a share, up from $12.2 million, or 87 cents a share, a year earlier. Core shipment volume, or beer shipped to wholesalers rose 19% to about 671,000 barrels. Distributor depletions increased 4%.

Net revenue jumped 23% to $142.1 million as gross margin narrowed to 56.4% from 57.3%.

Boston shipments up 212,000 bbls, 9.4% in full-year 2011 to 2,471,000 million bbls while depletion growth slowed from +11% in third quarter 2011 to 4% quarter 2011, even while shipments jumped 19% with extra week and earlier release of popular seasonals.

Advertising, promotional and selling expenses climbed 14%, as the company continued to spend more to support its brands. Boston Beer has beefed up its sales force and bolstered its advertising and local marketing efforts to support its brands. The company is also aiming to increase its representation at convenience stores and bars that haven't traditionally offered craft beers.