Brewers Association: Craft Beer is Now a $10 Billion Category

Craft beer is now a $10 billion category.

As part of its annual report on the state of the U.S. craft beer industry, the Brewers Association (BA) — a trade group representing small and independent brewers — indicated that U.S. craft beer volumes reached an all-time high last year.

With 2012 production swelling past 13.2 million barrels — a 15 percent increase from 2011 — craft sales grew by 17 percent, taking total retail revenues for the category up to an estimated $10.2 billion.

“Beer is a $99 billion industry to which craft brewers are making a significant contribution, with retail sales share hitting double-digits for the first time in 2012,” BA director Paul Gatza said in a press release.

Craft beer sales have been steadily increasing since 2005, when 1,394 breweries made just 6.3 million barrels. Fast forward eight years, and nearly 1,000 new breweries have opened their doors, helping to more than double the industry’s total production of craft beer. In the last two years alone, 684 new breweries have launched, while only 80 have shut their doors, according to the BA.

“On average, we are seeing slightly more than one craft brewery per day opening somewhere in the U.S. and we anticipate even more in the coming year,” Gatza said.

But the BA definition of “craft ” only includes those brewers who produce less than 6 million barrels annually and are less than 25 percent owned by another non-craft brewer. That means production from Craft Brew Alliance (which markets the Kona, Redhook and Widmer Brothers brands), Goose Island, Magic Hat and Pyramid goes unaccounted for. The BA definition also excludes production from the independently-owned D.G. Yuengling & Son, which produced over 2.5 million barrels in 2012, and so-called “crafty” brews like Shock Top (owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev) and Blue Moon (owned by MillerCoors). Collectively, more than 6 million barrels of what many believe is better quality beer than most domestic premium offerings is left unaccounted for.

Nonetheless, the new BA figures confirm craft’s upward surge across multiple retail channels, which Symphony IRI’s senior vice president of beverage alcohol services, Dan Wandel, reported during last month’s “Power Hour” seminar. The research company said craft dollar sales increased 18.5 percent in food, drug, club, dollar, military, multi-outlet and convenience channels.

Included below is the complete BA press release which further details the growth of craft beer in 2012.

Boulder, CO — The Brewers Association (BA), the trade association representing small and independent American brewers, today released 2012 data on U.S. craft brewing1 growth. In a year when the total U.S. beer market grew by one percent, craft brewers saw a 15 percent rise in volume2 and a 17 percent increase in dollar growth, representing a total barrel increase of almost 1.8 million.

With production at 13,235,917 barrels in 2012, craft brewers reached 6.5 percent volume of the total U.S. beer market, up from 5.7 percent the previous year. Additionally, craft dollar share of the total U.S. beer market reached 10.2 percent in 2012, as retail dollar value from craft brewers was estimated at $10.2 billion, up from $8.7 billion in 2011

“Beer is a $99 billion industry to which craft brewers are making a significant contribution, with retail sales share hitting double digits for the first time in 2012,” said Paul Gatza, director, Brewers Association. “Small and independent brewers are consistently innovating and producing high quality, flavor-forward craft brewed beer. Americans are not only responding to greater access to these products, but also to the stories and people behind them.”

In 2012, there was an 18 percent increase in the number of U.S. operating breweries, with the total count reaching 2,403. This count includes 409 new brewery openings and only 43 closings. Small breweries created an estimated 4,857 more jobs during the year, employing 108,440 workers, compared to 103,583 the year prior.

“On average, we are seeing slightly more than one craft brewery per day opening somewhere in the U.S. and we anticipate even more in the coming year. There is clearly a thirst in the marketplace for craft brewed beer, as indicated by the continued growth year after year,” added Gatza. “These small breweries are doing great things for their local communities, the greater community of craft brewers, our food arts culture and the overall economy.”

Note: Numbers are preliminary. A more extensive analysis will be released during the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C. from March 26-29. The full 2012 industry analysis will be published in the May/June 2013 issue of The New Brewer, highlighting regional trends and sales by individual breweries.

1 The definition of a craft brewer as stated by the Brewers Association: 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.
2 Volume by craft brewers represent total taxable production.

About the Brewers Association:

The Brewers Association is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their craft beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The Brewers Association (BA) represents more than 70 percent of the brewing industry, and its members make more than 99 percent of the beer brewed in the U.S. The BA organizes events including the World Beer Cup┬«, Great American Beer Festival┬«, Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America┬«, SAVOR?: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience and American Craft Beer Week┬«. The BA publishes The New Brewer magazine and its Brewers Publications division is the largest publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today’s craft brewers and homebrewers.

Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at and about homebrewing via the BA’s American Homebrewers Association. Follow us on Twitter.

Brewbound Job Board

The leading job board for the beer industry. Featuring hundreds of jobs from leading breweries and associated companies.

Brewbound Marketplace Listing

The Brewbound Marketplace features listings for equipment, services, and more. Post a listing today.

Brewbound's Database of Breweries

Brewbound's database of breweries includes thousands of breweries from around the world.

Beer Events Calendar

A public calendar of events that are happening in the beer industry

View calendar | Post Event
Brewbound Live Winter 2020

Santa Monica, CA ● Dec. 3+4, 2020

Early Registration Open
Cannabis Forum Summer 2020

New York, NY ● June 12th, 2020

Early Registration Open
Brew Talks Orlando 2020 (NBWA)

Orlando, Florida ● Oct. 6, 2020

Register Now
Brew Talks San Antonio 2020 (CBC)

San Antonio, TX ● April 21, 2020

Register Now
Brew Talks Denver 2020 (GABF)

Denver, CO ● Sept. 25, 2020

Register Now
Brewbound Podcast

The Brewbound Podcast features interviews with beer industry executives and entrepreneurs, along with highlights and commentary from the weekly news. New episodes every Thursday.