Brewers Association: Craft brewing sees barrel full of growth

BOULDER, Colo. — Craft brewers saw a 15% rise in volume and a 17% increase in dollar growth, the Brewers Association said today as they released preliminary 2012 data on U.S. craft brewing growth ahead of the Craft Brewers Conference to be held in Washington, D.C., March 26 to 29. The trade association representing small and independent American brewers estimated these findings represented a total barrel increase of almost 1.8 million.

With production at 13,235,917 barrels in 2012, craft brewers reached 6.5% volume of the total U.S. beer market, up from 5.7% the previous year. Additionally, craft dollar share of the total U.S. beer market reached 10.2% in 2012, as retail dollar value from craft brewers was estimated at $10.2 billion, up from $8.7 billion in 2011.

"Beer is a $99 billion industry to which craft brewers are making a significant contribution, with retail sales share hitting double digits for the first time in 2012,” said Paul Gatza, director at the Brewers Association. “Small and independent brewers are consistently innovating and producing high-quality, flavor-forward craft brewed beer. Americans are not only responding to greater access to these products, but also to the stories and people behind them.”

In 2012, there was an 18% increase in the number of U.S. operating breweries, with the total count reaching 2,403. This count includes 409 new brewery openings and only 43 closings. Small breweries created an estimated 4,857 more jobs during the year, employing 108,440 workers, compared with 103,583 the year prior.

"On average, we are seeing slightly more than one craft brewery per day opening somewhere in the United States, and we anticipate even more in the coming year. There is clearly a thirst in the marketplace for craft-brewed beer, as indicated by the continued growth year after year,” Gatza added. “These small breweries are doing great things for their local communities, the greater community of craft brewers, our food arts culture and the overall economy.”