Dollar sales were up 15 percent in the first half of 2011, excluding brewers who left the craft segment in 2010². Volume of craft brewed beer sold grew 14 percent for the first six months in 2011, compared to 9 percent growth in the first half of 2010.(That little footnote points to BA's rules about who can be called a "craft brewer," and it excludes Craft Brewers Alliance, Goose Island, and others. So who knows how much more good beer people are actually buying.) Perhaps more shocking is bit of news:
The U.S. now boasts 1,790 breweries—an increase of 165 additional breweries since June 2010. The Brewers Association also tracks breweries in planning as an indicator of potential new entrants into the craft category, and lists 725 breweries in planning today compared to 389 a year ago.I stick with analysis I did at the beginning of the year, wherein I argued that the new brewery explosion is a rational market response to sales growth--but yikes, that graph gives me a visceral shock. When you look at the beginning stages of bubbles, that's exactly what they look like. The growth better flatten out soon, or I will become less bullish on the future. I'd hate to see another late-90s style recalibration.