Boulder, CO • August 6, 2012— The Brewers Association (BA), the trade association representing the majority of U.S. brewing companies, has released strong mid-year numbers for America’s small and independent craft brewers ((The definition of a craft brewer as stated by the Brewers Association: An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional. Small: Annual production of beer less than 6 million barrels. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition. Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled, or equivalent economic interest, by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer. Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) 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)) . Dollar sales were up 14 percent in the first half of 2012, while volume of craft brewed beer sold jumped 12 per cent during that same time period.
Barrels sold by craft brewers for the first six months of 2012 are an estimated 6.0 million barrels. Despite a number of challenges, including decreased overall beer sales, the mid-year numbers show signs of continued growth for craft breweries. The industry currently provides an estimated 104,000 full-time and part-time jobs, contributing significantly to the U.S. economy.
“Generally, most craft brewers are continuing to see strong growth in production, sales, brewing capacity and employment, which is to be celebrated during challenged times for many of today’s small businesses,” said Paul Gatza, director, Brewers Association. “Plus it’s a fact that beer drinkers are responding to the quality and diversity created by small American brewing companies. India pale ales, seasonal beers, Belgian-inspired ales and a range of specialty beers are just a few of the beer styles that are growing rapidly.”
The U.S. now boasts 2,126 breweries—an increase of 350 additional breweries since June 2011. The BA also tracks breweries in planning as an indicator of potential new entrants into the craft category, and lists 1,252 breweries in planning today compared to 725 a year ago. Additionally, the count of craft brewers was at 2,075 as of June 30, 2012 showing that 97 percent of U.S. brewers are craft brewers.
“Beer-passionate Americans are opening breweries at a rate faster than at any time since the day Prohibition ended for the beverage of moderation,” Gatza added. “There is nearly a new brewery opening for every day of the year, benefiting beer lovers and communities in every area across the country.”