Craft Beer Rocks Again in ‘07

IRI data gives craft beer a 16.7% increase

Information Resources said craft beer sales rose 16.7 percent from $493 million in 2006 to $575 million in 2007, marking the second straight year of double-digit increases. IRI tracks sales only in the off-premise trade.

The Brewers Association, which tracks sales across all retail sectors, will be releasing their numbers in the next few days.

The Great Lakes Region — comprised of Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio — saw a 28.1 percent increase in sales from $54.4 million in 2006 to $69.6 million in 2007. Sales for the region have more than doubled since 2003.

The Southeast Region — comprised of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida — experienced the largest increase in sales, up 31.6 percent to $41 million in 2007.

The sale of craft beer is also off to a strong start this year, according to the report, with sales up almost 16 percent in the first four weeks of this year compared to the same period in 2007.

Price increases that many brewers have implemented due to increased hop and barley costs were introduced last month or the first of this month, and shelf prices are just now beginning to reflect those higher prices. February, and particularly March will be important indicators of how the higher prices of craft beer will be affecting sales at retail.