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Craft Beer Volume Up 12% To 6M Barrels In First Half

August 7, 2012

Despite a tepid overall beer market in the U.S., craft beer continues to be one of the most promising categories across the drinks industry, rising double-digits by both volume and value over the first six months of the year. According to the Brewers Association, the craft segment surged 12% by volume to 6 million barrels (83 million (2.25-gallon) cases) and 14% by value to $4.7 billion from January through June. Those strong results come on top of full-year 2011 volume and value increases of 13% and 15% respectively.

The vibrancy of the craft category has led to a surge of new entrants. Over the last 12 months, the number of breweries in the U.S. has risen by 20% to 2,126 (97% of which are craft brewers). Moreover, 1,252 new breweries are currently in development across the country, up from 725 a year ago.

With all the new breweries popping up, some have warned that craft beer will inevitably face a shakeout such as happened in the late 1990s. Boston Beer’s Jim Koch told Shanken News Daily last year, “At some point—and we may have already reached it—there will be more beers than there is shelf-space or tap handles. We all know that at some point growth will slow and then stop. But it’s very hard to predict when that will happen.” Others, like New Belgium Brewing marketing director Bryan Simpson, counter that consumer thirst for craft beers will continue to support growth for the foreseeable future. “One of the biggest differences between now and [the late 1990s] is that there’s a far greater population of educated consumers. They’re not going back to industrial lagers,” he says.

 

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