Brewers Association: Consumers Spent $14.3 Billion on Craft Beer in 2013

The craft brew train kept on rolling in 2013 as production from the country’s smallest beer makers grew 18 percent, according to data released today by the Brewers Association (BA).

As part of its annual report on the U.S. craft beer industry, the BA — which represents the interests of small and independent brewers — today announced that consumers spent an estimated $14.3 billion on craft beer last year, up 20 percent from the $11.9 billion spent in 2012.

Craft production volumes also accelerated in 2013, to 15.6 million barrels. That’s up from the 13.2 million barrels of beer the craft brewers made in 2012, representing 7.8 percent of the total beer market.

“With this stellar year, craft has now averaged 10.9 percent growth over the last decade,” noted BA staff economist Bart Watson in a press statement.

With craft’s current pace of growth — as well as a much-discussed revision of the BA’s definition of craft brewer — Watson said he believes 2014 will be the year that BA-defined ‘craft beer’ finally captures 10 percent of total beer volumes.

“Given the first two months of scan data, I would say it is likely,” Watson said, pointing to reports from Nielsen, GuestSciences and IRI.

IRI recently pegged craft volumes in multi-outlet and convenience channels as being up 20 percent through Feb. 23.

Additionally, today’s press release highlighted the number of brewery openings in 2013. The BA counted 413 openings and just 44 closings, bringing the total number of U.S. craft breweries to 2,768, a 15 percent increase over 2012.

The BA has made changes to its reporting system over the past year, the result of bringing a staff economist on board. At this time last year, the BA had originally reported that drinkers had spent about $10 billion on craft beer.

“We had been underestimating what was being sold on-premise,” Watson said. “We now use a more rigorous method of estimating and take a more detailed look into the channels and pricing to have a better sense of craft’s retail value.”

More information is included in the full press statement.

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