According to the Symphony IRI Group, sales of 'craft' beer were up 11.9% in the first half of 2010. As comparison, sales of the beers of the top 10 'mainstream' brewing conglomerates decreased by more than 5 million cases. For example, Anheuser-Busch Inbev sales were down 1.9%, SABMiller/Coors down 2.4%.
Here's the really big news. In recent years, 'craft' beer sales have comprised about 5% of the total US beer market. During the first half of 2010, they dramatically surpassed that level, reaching 8.7%.
The Symphony IRI figures account for sales at retail outlets such as grocery stores, beer/wine shops, etc., but do not include draft sales. They were presented to the Brewers Association —a trade group for US brewers producing less than 2 million barrels— during an online conference yesterday
Of the top 'craft' breweries, New Belgium grew the most, up 28% in sales dollars. Sierra Nevada Brewing's Torpedo an IPA named for a special piece of hopping equipment— grew 200% versus 2009, best among the top 15 'craft' beers.
Ray Daniels tweeted the results as they were announced. Beer Advocate aggregated those tweets. Jay Brooks summarized them. Stan Hieronymous compared the results to those from 2006.
Preliminary figures released in early August showed that 'craft' breweries had sold approximately 4.6 million barrels (31 gallons = 13.78 cases) for the first six months of this year, versus 4.2 million in the same period last year. That's 9.1% growth, which, although robust, doesn't quite match the 11.9% number above. Does that discrepancy indicate lower growth —or loss— for sales of draught 'craft' beer? I don't know (even though anecdotally I wouldn't believe so.) I look forward to the Brewers Association publishing a more thorough recap and analysis.