The Brewers Association (BA), the trade association representing small and independent brewers, today released 2011 data on U.S. craft brewing1. Craft brewers saw volume rise 13 percent, with a 15 percent increase in retail sales from 2010 to 2011, representing a total barrel increase of 1.3 million.
In 2011, craft brewers represented 5.68 percent of volume of the U.S. beer market, up from 4.97 in 2010, with production reaching 11,468,152 barrels. Additionally, the BA estimates the actual dollar sales figure from craft brewers in 2011 was $8.7 billion, up from $7.6 billion in 2010. Increased retails sales represented 9.1 percent of the $95.5 billion dollar U.S. beer market3.
“While the overall beer market experienced a 1.32 percent volume decrease in 2011, craft brewing saw significant growth, surpassing five percent total market volume share for the first time,” said Paul Gatza, director, Brewers Association. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that with the variety of styles and flavors to choose from, Americans are developing a strong taste for high-quality, small-batch beer from independent brewers.”
With 250 brewery openings and only 37 closings, the BA also reported that 1,989 breweries were operating in the U.S. in 2011—an 11 percent increase from the previous year. Small brewers employed approximately 103,585 workers in the U.S in 2011.
“We saw rapid growth in brewery openings last year, particularly with microbrewery start-ups, and these numbers are poised to rise even more in 2012,” added Gatza. “In February 2012, we already topped 2,000 operating breweries—a truly remarkable milestone. We look forward to even more success and the continued expansion of the craft beer market.”
Note: Numbers are preliminary. The Association will publish its full 2011 industry analysis in the May/June 2012 issue of The New Brewer, highlighting regional trends and sales by individual breweries. Additionally, a more extensive analysis will be released during the Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego, Calif., from May 2-5.
1 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.
2 Volume by craft brewers represent total taxable production.
3 The Brewers Association does not include flavored malt beverages in its beer data set.