Beverage Industry

Craft brewing 2011 volume sales grew 13 percent

March 27, 2012

The U.S. craft brewing industry increased 13 percent in volume and grew 15 percent in retail sales in 2011, according to full year data released by the Brewers Association, Boulder, Colo. The increases accounted for 1.3 million additional barrels from 2010 to 2011, during which annual craft beer production reached nearly 11.5 million barrels, the association said.

In 2011, craft brewers represented 5.7 percent of volume in the U.S. beer market, which is an increase from nearly 5 percent in 2010. The Brewers Association estimates the actual dollar sales figure from craft brewers in 2011 ranked $8.7 billion, which is an increase from $7.6 billion in 2010. This growth helped craft beer to represent 9.1 percent of the $95.5 billion U.S. beer market, which excludes flavored malt beverages, according to the Brewers Association definition.

“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,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, in a statement. “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.”

The Brewers Association also reports that 1,989 breweries were operating in the United States in 2011, including 37 closings and 250 openings. The statistic represents an 11 percent increase in operating breweries in the United States for 2011. Small brewers employed approximately 103,585 workers in the United States in 2011, according to the Brewers Association.

“We saw rapid growth in brewery openings last year, particularly with microbrewery start-ups, and these numbers are poised to rise even more in 2012,” Gatza said in a statement. “In February 2012, we already topped 2,000 operating breweries — a truly remarkable milestone. We look forward to even more success and the continued expansion of the craft beer market.”

The Brewers Association defines a craft brewer as an American, small, independent and traditional brewer that produces fewer than 6 million barrels, less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by an alcohol beverage industry member that is not a craft brewer, and one that has either an all-malt flagship or at least 50 percent of its volume is either all-malt beers or beers that use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.