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Craft maintains strong growth in tough economy – sales up 7% in ‘09

The Brewers Association today released 2009 data on the U.S. craft brewing industry. In a year when other brewers saw a slowdown in sales, small and independent craft brewers saw sales dollars increase 10.3 percent and volume increase 7.2 percent2 over 2008, representing a growth of 613,992 barrels equal to roughly 8.5 million cases.

Overall, U.S. beer sales were down approximately 5 million barrels (31 gallons per U.S. barrel) in 2009.

“Beer lovers continue to find great value and enjoyment in fuller flavored craft beers,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association. “Americans have an increasing appreciation of craft beers, and the growing number of brewers behind them. They’re eager to try the latest seasonal release and to sample a variety of beers from different breweries.”

In 2009, craft brewers represented 4.3 percent of volume and 6.9 percent of retail dollars for the total U.S. beer category. With the total U.S. beer industry representing an estimated retail dollar value of $101 billion, the Brewers Association estimates the actual dollar sales figure from craft brewers in 2009 was $7 billion, up from $6.3 billion in 2008.

The total number of U.S. craft brewers grew from 1,485 to 1,542 in 2009, and they produced 9,115,635 barrels, up from 8,501,713 barrels in 2008. Overall U.S. beer sales fell from approximately 210.4 million barrels to 205.8 million barrels.

The 2009 growth and popularity of beer from small and independent breweries did not go unnoticed by industry observers. The National Restaurant Association Chef Survey for example, cited “locally-produced wine and beer” among its top five overall trends to watch for in 2010. In the alcohol and cocktails category, the organization ranked “locally-produced wine and beer” as its top trend, while “food-beer pairings” came in at number five on the list.