Craft beer industry posts double-digit growth, Boulder’s Brewers Association reports
The craft brewing industry is sustaining its torrid growth pace by notching double-digit gains in sales and volume for the first six months of 2013, according to a report released Monday by the Boulder-based Brewers Association.
Dollar sales and volume for craft brewers — defined as “small, independent and traditional” — were up 15 percent and 13 percent, respectively, through June, according to the nonprofit trade association. During the same period last year, sales and volume were up 14 percent and 12 percent, respectively.
If the pace continues, it would be the fourth consecutive year of double-digit sales and volume growth for the industry, which has seen volume sales increase every year since 1969 and dollar sales grow since 1997, officials for the Brewers Association said.
“To sustain double-digit growth year after year is not to be taken for granted,” said Julia Herz, craft beer program director for the Brewers Association. “But the craft beer revolution is on.”
The sales growth comes amid a continued swelling of the craft brewing ranks.
Through the first half of 2013, there were 2,483 craft breweries in operation in the United States, a more than 20 percent increase from the first half of last year. Additionally, there were 1,605 breweries in planning at the end of June.
The brewery boom has been felt locally, with new operations popping up throughout Boulder County.
Four weeks in operation, Louisville’s Twelve Degree Brewing has been four-and-a-half years in the making.
“Craft beer fans like to sample and experiment, so I think the idea of lots of small breweries — each with its own personality and style — is a very good thing,” Jon Howland, Twelve Degree’s founder, said in an e-mail. “I’m a big fan of Belgium’s beer culture and that’s the situation over there. Almost every little town has its own brewery and, in many cases, more than one.
“It’s really exciting to see this happen in the U.S.”
Craft breweries account for 98 percent of U.S. breweries, officials for the association said.
“More breweries are currently operating in the U.S. than at any time since the 1870s,” Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, said in a statement. “With each new brewery opening, American craft brewers are reinforcing the (United States’) position as the world’s most diverse brewing nation.”
Overall beer sales fell 2 percent through the first six months of the year, according to the Brewers Association report.
Leading the craft segment’s charges are the continued growth among established brewers within the industry, Herz said.
“The majority of new brewers are not at the volume yet,” she said.
Longmont’s Oskar Blues Brewery, the largest brewer in Boulder County, on Monday reported a 38 percent growth in volume for the first half of 2013, outpacing the craft industry by 25 percentage points.
Fueling the growth was the opening of a Tasty Weasel Taproom and brewery in Brevard, N.C., said Chad Melis, an Oskar Blues spokesman. Oskar Blues opened the additional brewery to increase capacity and to more easily supply the East Coast.
The boom in new craft brewers can help all within the industry, Melis said.
“I think there’s increased competition, but for us I think we’re still a pretty small industry,” Melis said. “As more and more people are opening up breweries, we’re able to tell our story through other people … I think it’s continuing to draw attention to quality beer.”