Earlier this week, the Brewers Association released their 2008 Craft Beer Sales Numbers. The report is simultaneously exciting and humbling, and makes an extremely interesting read for casual drinkers, or those who are seeing more unique brews on their local store shelves but don't quite know what to make of it.
America is currently home to 1,527 breweries. (Almost makes you worried that one might be sneaking up behind you right now...) The Brewers Association deems 1,483 of those "craft breweries" -- consisting of large craft breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs. For those not great at math, that leaves 44 "non-craft" brewers. Further number-crunching shows us that over 97% of companies making beer are making craft beer. But what you need to keep in perspective is that 97% are only making 4% off all the beer consumed in the US. Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and the like are still churning out the vast majority of America's suds.
So it's easy to see why, despite all the recent notoriety, craft brewers still have an us against the world mentality (with global conglomerates like InBev helping to up the ante). But despite this, for the seventh year in a row, the stats show all the craft brew hype hasn't just been a big public relations trick. Once again, craft brewers saw an increase in their share of the U.S. beer market, jumping a quarter of a percentage point. That might not seem like a lot, but it's significant: While non-craft beer saw a minimal 0.6% in growth last year, and imports dropped off 3%, craft beer saw a 5.8% growth rate. The top 10 beer brands all saw decreases in sales while craft beers staked out small but significant territory.
In other good news for beer lovers, the Brewers Association points out that a 2008 Gallup poll shows beer has once again taken a double digit lead over wine as America's alcoholic beverage of choice. One can surmise part of that increase may be a result of craft beers raising the profile of beer as an upscale beverage.
You can check out all the statistics for yourself here. Or true diehards and industry-types can head to the Craft Brewers Conference in Boston where a more extensive report will be released on April 22nd.
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