The Brewers Association, Boulder, Colo., reported that craft beer dollar sales increased 15 percent and volume grew 14 percent in the first half of 2011. The volume is an increase compared to 2010’s first-half statistic of 9 percent growth, according to the association.

Dollar sales figures reflect three former craft brewing companies that left the segment in the second half of 2010 when transitions led them to no longer meet the Brewers Association’s definition of independence, it said.

The number of barrels sold by craft brewers for the first half of the year are at an estimated 5.1 million, the association reported.

“Craft brewers continue to innovate and brew beers of excellent quality,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, in a statement. “America’s beer drinkers are rapidly switching to craft because of the variety of flavors they are discovering. And they are connecting with small and independent craft brewers as companies they choose to support.”

Mid-year numbers have shown signs of continued growth for craft breweries. The industry currently provides an estimated 100,000 jobs for 1,790 breweries, which is an increase of 165 additional breweries since June 2010.

The Brewers Association also tracks breweries in planning as an indicator of potential new entrants to the craft category, and reports 725 breweries are in planning stages today compared to 389 a year ago.

The Brewers Association defines a craft brewer as an American brewer that produces less than 6 million barrels of beer annually, has less than 25 percent of its brewery owned or controlled by an alcohol beverage industry member, and has either an all-malt flagship or has at least 50 percent of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.