It was good business for most US small breweries in 2009. Here's what the Brewers Association (BA) reported yesterday:
BOULDER, Colo.• March 8, 2010 —The Brewers Association, the trade association that tabulates production statistics for U.S. breweries, today released 2009 data on the U.S. craft brewing industry. In a year when other brewers saw a slowdown in sales, small and independent craft brewers saw sales dollars increase 10.3 percent and volume increase 7.2 percent over 2008, representing a growth of 613,992 barrels equal to roughly 8.5 million cases.
Total beer sales —that is, when the US numbers of the international corporate brewers are figured in (there are no American-owned 'big' brewers remaining)— decreased 2.1% from 210.4 million barrels in 2008 to 205.8 million barrels.
Restaurants nationwide struggled during the recession; thus, there was concern for brewpubs. Looking at the graphic supplied, one can be reassured: the physical number of brewpubs increased — if only slightly— 0.9% to 992.
The number of small breweries also increased —at a healthier pace— 8.3%, from 504 to 550. But dollar growth was down from its high of 14% of a few years ago, and volume growth down from its high of 11%. (Read more: here.) Determining whether that decline in the rate of growth is situational or systemic —or temporary— will require more metrics and greater analysis. The Brewers Association does plan to release more information at its annual celebration and exposition —the Craft Brewers Conference— in April 2010, in Chicago.
The keynote speaker for the conference this year will not be exhorting cheers from the converted. (See I Am A Craft Brewer.) The speaker will be addressing the political realities of selling beer. The BA has invited Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), House Small Brewers Caucus founder and co-chair, to keynote the Craft Brewers Conference. It might be be a sign of the coming-of-age of the small-brewery industry.
- The magazine Beer Marketer's Insights reported similar results in January. Read more: here.
- A barrel is not a keg. It's a unit of liquid measurement, that in the US is equal to 31 US gallons, or 13.78 cases of bottles of 12-ounce beers. Read more here.
- The BA defines '"craft breweries": here. I have a different take on what I prefer to call "small breweries": here.