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A "stellar year" for craft beer

By thirsty hack Ignatius Rake

Posted March 19, 2014
ba stats
Craft keeps growing: Some stats at a glance. © BA

Craft beer continues its upwards march in the States, new BA stats reveal.

New data released by the US Brewers Association (BA) show that US craft brewers1 last year saw their volumes2 increase 18% to 15.6m barrels (1.9bn litres) in spite of an overall US beer market contraction of 1.9%.

Moreover, described by the BA in a press release as "a primary driver of growth in the beer industry", the country's craft brewers upped their showing on the overall US beer market from 6.5% to 7.8%.

In terms of wedge, meanwhile, "their dollar share" of the total $100bn US beer market reached 14.3% "as retail dollar value from craft brewers was estimated at $14.3bn", up 20.2% on $11.9bn achieved in 2012.

"With this stellar year, craft has now averaged 10.9% growth over the last decade," says BA staff economist Bart Watson.

"Beer drinkers are excited about what small and independent brewers are offering and that is evidenced by the rising production and sales of the craft segment."

Last year, the BA reveals, 413 new breweries came onstream in the States, while 44 went down the tubes.

Furthermore, of the 2,822 breweries operating in the country in 2013, some 98%, or 2,768, were deemed craft brewers by the BA.

Combined with already existing and established breweries and brewpubs, craft brewers provided a total of 110,273 jobs, up by almost 2,000 on the year before.

"Openings of brewing facilities continue to far outpace closings, demonstrating that the demand for high-quality, local, fuller-flavoured beers is only increasing," Watson continues.

"The geographic diversity of openings and production growth shows the national nature of this movement."

"In towns all across the country, craft brewers are creating jobs, delivering innovative products, advancing the beverage of beer and strengthening their local economies."

The BA will release its Top 50 listing of craft brewing and overall brewing companies by volume sales this coming March 31.

Additionally, a more extensive analysis will be released during the Craft Brewers Conference to be staged in Denver, Colorado from April 8 to April 11.

A full 2013 industry analysis will also appear in the May/June 2014 issue of The New Brewer, highlighting regional trends and sales by individual breweries.

In the meantime, to view an expanded version of the infographic at the top of this page, have a click of this.

See also Craft to triple but who's buying?, posted 9/3/14.

Ignatius Rake
is a freelance journalist and geographer who has visited more than 70 countries on six continents. A published lyricist, he has fronted punk bands in both the UK and Poland, including the only band ever to be kicked off BBC Radio Cornwall. In 2013, he represented the UK at the Fourth Annual Smoke's Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship in Toronto, coming an abysmal last and getting his arse royally whipped by Rake & Herald reader and world speedscarfing supremo Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut. He has been known to like a pint.


1) The BA defines a craft brewer as "small, independent and traditional". As such, annual production must not exceed 6m barrels of beer, with less than 25% of the craft brewery owned or controlled by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer. A craft brewer also has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavour derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. The BA does not consider flavoured malt beverages (FMBs) beers.

2) Volume by craft brewers represent total taxable production, the BA says.

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