Tuesday, March 22, 2011

'Craft' breweries sales volume increases 11% in 2010.

The Brewers Association (BA) —a trade group for American breweries and brewpubs producing 6 million barrels or fewer— has released preliminary figures for 'craft' beer sales in the US for 2010.

Small and independent craft brewers saw volume 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.

The Association also reported a growth in the number of U.S. breweries, with eight percent more breweries than the previous year. In 2010, there were 1,759 operating breweries. Craft brewers produced 9,951,956 barrels, up from an adjusted3 8,934,446 barrels in 2009.

In 2010, craft brewers represented 4.9 percent of volume and 7.6 percent of retail dollars of the total U.S. beer category. The Brewers Association estimates the actual dollar sales figure from craft brewers in 2010 was $7.6 billion, up from $7 billion in 2009.

Overall, the U.S. beer industry represented an estimated retail dollar value of $101 billion. U.S. beer sales were down approximately one percent, or 2 million barrels, in 2010 compared to being down 2.2 percent in 2009. Total beer industry barrels dropped to 203.6 million, down from 205.7 million barrels in 2009. Imports were up five percent in 2010, compared to being down 9.8 percent in 2009.

The association defines a 'craft brewery' as small, independent, and traditional.
  • Small: Annual production of beer less than 6 million barrels. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition.
  • Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.
  • Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50 percent of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.
Last year, the Association came to grips with a looming problem. Several of its members were approaching the limit of the 'craft' brewery definition —2 million barrels or fewer. Any breweries past that limit would be kicked from the defined rolls of 'craft breweries', effectively punishing them for success. Boston Beer, the brewer of Sam Adams, was the most prominent.

To deal with that, the Association increased the limit of its definition by 200%, from 2 million barrels to 6 million barrels. It will be interesting to see how much of the 2010 increase was from the largest 10 'craft' breweries, versus the remaining 1,749. The full report will be released on Thursday at the BA's Craft Brewers Conference.


  • Graphic courtesy Brewers Association.
  • The entire press release can be seen at the BA's website: here.


  1. I know one other side effect of that uptick from 2 to 6 million:

    Yuengling applied for membership in the BA.

    Before getting excited about the numbers, I want to hear whether Yuengling was approved, and whether their production was factored in to that total. If so, I'm calling "foul".

  2. Joining The Brewers Association does not make a brewery "craft" under their definition. Check their membership list http://www.brewersassociation.org/attachments/0000/0234/Brewery_members.pdf , Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors both pay dues for ALL their breweries, as do the companies they own/partially own (Leinenkugel, CBA- Redhook, Widmer, Kona).

    While the final "results" will come with the B.A.'s annual press release of the Top 50 Brewers and Top 50 Craft Brewers, the fact that craft went up 1m bbl and Yuengling's barrelage is over 2m/yr suggests it's not going to be listed as "craft".


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