IRI: Craft Beer Sales Up 24 Percent Through February 23

The polar vortex might be to blame for slower retail foot traffic, weak winter job creation numbers and even delayed maple syrup production, but frigid temperatures haven’t cooled craft beer’s sizzling start to 2014.

Year-to-date craft dollar sales are up a whopping 24.6 percent through February across IRI’s U.S. multi outlet and convenience stores universe (MULC), which includes grocery, drug, Wal-Mart, Club, Dollar, Mass-Merchandiser and Military stores.

Perhaps more impressive is craft beer’s performance in the grocery channel — craft is the third best-selling beer product in IRI-tracked supermarkets with 14.69 dollar share of the total category, up 1.83 versus last year.

And despite a significantly reduced presence in the convenience channel, craft dollar sales are up 32.5 percent to more than $72 million through Feb. 23.

So what craft beer producers are benefiting the most?

Through the first eight weeks of 2014, Boston Beer Company’s dollar sales are up 44.5 percent in MULC on the strength of its ‘seasonal’ SKU, dollar sales for which were up 52.3 percent. Boston Beer’s Rebel IPA, which rolled out nationwide in January, has already cracked the list of top-30 craft brands with nearly $1.8 million in sales, in MULC.

A number of other craft flagships are also experiencing impressive growth to start the year, including New Belgium’s Fat Tire, Lagunitas’ IPA, Goose Island’s 312 Urban Wheat and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. Dollar sales of Fat Tire are up 27.5 percent, to $11.5 million. Lagunitas IPA continues to grow at a breakneck pace, up 84.1 percent to $5.6 million. Goose Island’s 312 Urban Wheat and Bell’s Two Hearted were up 56.7 percent and 69.1 percent, respectively.

But not all craft brands are flying of retailer shelves. Dollar sales for the Samuel Adams variety pack are down -6 percent while Sierra Nevada’s seasonal SKU and Widmer Hefewizen are down -4.8 percent and -1.6 percent, respectively.

In craft styles, India Pale Ales continued to grow through the first two months of the year — dollar sales are up 49.6 percent year-to-date. Meanwhile, dollar sales of seasonals and pale ales are up 27.9 percent and 13.7 percent, respectively.

Other craft highlights:

  • Newly-minted Brewers Association craft brewer, Yuengling, boasts the top-selling craft brand. Dollar Sales for Yuengling Lager are up 3.6 percent in MULC (although it wasn’t listed under IRI’s top craft brands list).
  • Dollar sales of Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA are up 22.5 percent to $6.7 million.
  • Dollar sales of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA are up 40.1 percent to $1.8 million.
  • Dollar sales of Saison/Farmhouse Ales are up 132.1 percent, to $394,395, in MULC.
  • Dollar sales for private label beer maker, World Brews, are down 16.6 percent through Feb. 23. It’s the biggest loss of any top-25 vendor.
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