The Brewers Association, the trade association representing the majority of U.S. brewing companies, today released 2010 data on the U.S. craft brewing industry. Small and independent craft brewers1 saw volume2 increase 11 percent and retail sales dollars increase 12 percent over 2009, representing a growth of over 1 million barrels (31 gallons per U.S. barrel), equal to more than 14 million new craft cases.This is pretty remarkable, given that we're still mired in a pretty bad recession during which regular beer sales are in decline. It represents 39% growth over the past five years--again, during that massive recession, and again, as macros faltered.
But actually, it undersells the growth. The Brewers Association touts the barrel totals for 2010 as just under ten million: 9,951,956. But this isn't all craft beer, just the amount meeting BA's idiosyncratic criteria (hence the footnotes in the quoted text). Include breweries like Widmer and Redhook--part of the recent collection of breweries under the Craft Brewers Alliance banner--and it's well over ten million barrels. And that makes the five-year growth more than 39%.
So, great news. Greater even than the headlines read.