Craft bucks US beer trend with 12% H1 growth

US craft beer grew by double digits during H1 of 2012 despite the malaise of the US beer market, says the Brewers Association.

The trade association that claims to represent the majority of US brewing companies said mid-year figures showed value rose 14% and volume 12% on a comparative basis for the first six months of 2012.

Volume sold by craft brewers for the period are estimated by the Brewers Association to be about 6 million barrels.

The Association said the US craft category now comprises 2,126 breweries, an increase of 350 breweries since June 2011.

Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, said: “Generally, most craft brewers are continuing to see strong growth in production, sales, brewing capacity and employment, which is to be celebrated during challenged times for many of today’s small businesses.”

"Plus it’s a fact that beer drinkers are responding to the quality and diversity created by small American brewing companies. India pale ales, seasonal beers, Belgian-inspired ales and a range of specialty beers are just a few of the beer styles that are growing rapidly.”

According to the Association, breweries are opening at a faster rate than at any time since Prohibition.

Gatza said: “There is nearly a new brewery opening for every day of the year, benefiting beer lovers and communities in every area across the country.”

The Brewers Association define craft brewers as 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. Flavoured 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 flavour.