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Craft beer saw 13% volume increase in 2011, Brewers Association reports

March 27, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Memphis

In 2011, Memphis’ lone craft production brewery, Ghost River Brewing, embarked on a significant expansion, adding a bottling line and doubling capacity.

Nationwide, craft beer brewers also experienced significant growth, according to new figures released Monday.

Craft brewers saw volume rise 13 percent, with a 15 percent increase in retail sales representing a total barrel increase of 1.3 million, from 2010 to 2011. That’s according to data from the Brewers Association, the trade association representing small and independent brewers.

While the overall beer market experienced a 1.32 percent volume decrease in 2011, craft brewing saw significant growth, surpassing five percent total market volume share for the first time,” said Paul Gatza, director, Brewers Association. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that with the variety of styles and flavors to choose from, Americans are developing a strong taste for high-quality, small-batch beer from independent brewers.”

While a new brewery or brewpub didn’t open in Memphis in 2011, there was an 11 percent increase in the number of breweries operating in the U.S. last year.

There were 250 brewery openings and 37 closings, with a total of 1,989 breweries operating in the U.S. in 2011. Small brewers employed about 103,585 workers in the U.S last year.

We saw rapid growth in brewery openings last year, particularly with microbrewery start-ups, and these numbers are poised to rise even more in 2012,” added Gatza. “In February 2012, we already topped 2,000 operating breweries—a truly remarkable milestone. We look forward to even more success and the continued expansion of the craft beer market.”

Craft breweries are defined as small, independent and traditional, with annual production of beer less than 6 million barrels.

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