The Craft-Beer Renaissance

Craft BeerThe craft-beer phenomenon is reaching new economic heights, while its popularity is expanding from the United States to international markets. Things are looking up for the U.S. craft-brewing industry, according to 2010 data released by the Brewers Association: Since 2009, small and independent craft brewers’ volume has risen 11%, while retail sales dollars have increased 12%. Additionally, international sales for U.S. craft beer are up 28% by volume, with some regions seeing increases as high as 90%.

In 2010, craft brewers represented 4.8% of U.S. beer category volume and 7.6% of retail dollars. Craft brewers’ sales figures were estimated at $7.6 billion, up from $7 billion in 2009. Brewers Association Export Development Program subscribers exported more than 1.8 million gallons of beer in 2010, a 28% increase over export volumes in 2009. These numbers, coupled with the reported growth in the number of U.S. breweries — 8% more breweries were added in 2010 — show craft beer resonates with people who appreciate small, independent American brewers. In fact, these brewers are producing more barrels: 9.95 million barrels in 2010 compared with 8.93 million barrels in 2009.

The good news for bars and clubs: The increase in sales proves consumers are demanding more esoteric and boutique U.S. brands domestically and internationally. Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom are the largest international markets for U.S. craft beer.

“Prohibition caused a dramatic decline in the number of breweries in the United States, but the number of breweries is now at an all-time high,” Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, says. “With well over 100 new brewery openings in 2010, plus 618 breweries in planning stages, all signs point to continued growth for the industry.”

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