Sunday, August 19, 2007

the 5% Rubicon

Counting only the first 6 months of this year, sales of craft beer have surpassed 5% dollar share of total beer sales ... for the first time ever. That's 5% of the total dollars from all US beer sold; it's not the total amount of barrels produced. The craft industry had already surpassed that last percentage a few years back.

Volume of craft beers sold this year is up 11% over the same period in 2006; dollar sales are up 14%. Jump here for the complete story.

5% of sales, while still small in the big scheme of things, is significant enough to partially explain the recent spate of big boy brewery buyouts of craft breweries, acquisition of distribution rights to imports, and other activities.

It also points to a certain maturity in our craft-beer industry. Our $8.99 6-pack is not some country-club pricing but a realistic measure of how much it costs us to produce, market, and distribute our beers, and pay health costs and fair wages for those who make the beer (although as a friend who is a retail beer buyer often says: "Most of us didn't get into the beer business to get rich.").

So, it's a Rubicon for craft beer. (What's a Rubicon? Wiki it!)

These statistics are compiled by the Brewers Association, a small brewery advocacy group based in Denver. And, as with any collection of data, there are interesting qualifiers and definitions. The craft beer industry is assumed to have begun in 1981.

I really must remember to have my morning coffee before posting. I originally, incorrectly, had written that craft beer sales had surpassed the $5 million mark this year for the first time ever. Sales are much beyond that!

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