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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Craft Beer Sales Up 11.7% in 2006

Craft breweries in the U.S. continued to pump out more beer in 2006. The Brewers Association says craft beer volume was up 11.7 percent for the year.

The 2006 numbers are on top of significant growth during each of the three previous years, causing the Brewers Association to use the word "surge" to describe what is happening among artisan American brewers.

The Brewers Association estimates 2006 sales by craft brewers at more than 6,600,000 barrels. For 2006 craft beer posted a retail sales figure of $4.2 billion.

The growth is impressive because it does not include imported brands, which are also surging, and new products launched by large brewers that are all-malt or traditional styles. The Brewers Association definition of craft beer is: "An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional. Craft beer comes only from a craft brewer. Small = annual production of beer less than 2 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% 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% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor."

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