The Brewers Association, Boulder, Colo., reported small and independent craft brewers saw volume increase 11 percent and retail sales dollars grow 12 percent in 2010. The growth represents an increase of more than 1 million barrels, which is equal to more than 14 million new craft cases, according to the association’s annual statistics.

In 2010, craft brewers represented 4.9 percent of volume and 7.6 percent of retail dollars of the total U.S. beer category, it said. The Brewers Association estimated dollar sales from craft brewers in 2010 were $7.6 billion, which is an increase from $7 billion in sales reported in 2009, it said.

The Brewers Association also noted that 3 percent of craft brewer barrels by volume were distributed in cans, which confirms a growing trend, said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association.

Craft brewers produced nearly 10 million barrels in 2010, compared to 8.9 million barrels in 2009, the association stated. The number of U.S. breweries also grew 8 percent to 1,759 operating breweries in the United States.

“With well over 100 new brewery opening in 2010, plus 618 breweries in planning stages, all signs point to continued growth for the industry,” Gatza said, in a statement.

Overall, the U.S. beer industry carries an estimated $101 billion retail dollar value, which excludes flavored malt beverages, the Brewers Association reported. In 2010, U.S. beer sales decreased approximately 1 percent, compared to 2009 when sales were down 2.2 percent, the association stated.

Total beer industry barrels dropped to 203.6 million, which is a decrease from 205.7 million barrels in 2009, it said. The association reported imports increased 5 percent in 2010, compared to the category’s 9.8 percent decline in 2009.