The Brewers Association (BA), the trade association representing small and independent brewers, just released 2011 data on the U.S. craft brewing industry. It is all good news. Last year craft brewers saw a 13 percent increase in volume, with a 15 percent increase in retail sales. Production increased by 1.3 million barrels.
In 2010, craft brewers represented 4.97 percent of the volume of the total U.S. beer market. That means 4.97 percent of the beer produced in the USA was craft beer. In 2011, that number climbed to 5.68 percent. Craft beer production reached 11,468,152 barrels in 2011. Craft beer dollar sales in 2011 equaled $8.7 billion. The overall U.S. beer market equaled $95.5 billion.
This is all good news but there is still plenty of room for growth. In very simple terms, craft beer makes up just 5.68 percent of the beer market in the U.S. That number –just 5.68 percent– is hard for those of us living in the Pacific Northwest to comprehend. In Portland, that number is closer to 30 percent. In the Seattle area, about 25 percent of the beer we consume is craft beer. San Francisco trails slightly at about 20 percent. All other U.S. cities are much, much lower. Yes, even renowned bastions of craft beer like San Diego and Denver fail to come even close to the three cities I mentioned above.
“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.”
In 2011 a total of 250 new craft breweries opened. Only 37 closed. The Brewers Association reported that 1,989 breweries were operating in the U.S. in 2011—an 11 percent increase. Small brewers employed approximately 103,585 workers 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.”
The BA’s numbers are preliminary. The official, comprehensive report is due in a couple of months. See the preliminary report here.
The Brewers Association definition of craft beer: “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.”