Brewers Association reports craft beer volume up 14% in 1st Half 2011


Dollar growth up 15% in first six months of 2011; U.S. sees rapid growth in breweries in planning

(Boulder, CO) – The Brewers Association, the trade association representing the majority of U.S. brewing companies, has released strong mid-year numbers for America’s small and independent craft brewers¹. Dollar sales were up 15 percent in the first half of 2011, excluding brewers who left the craft segment in 2010². Volume of craft brewed beer sold grew 14 percent for the first six months in 2011, compared to 9 percent growth in the first half of 2010.

Barrels sold by craft brewers for the first half of the year are an estimated 5.1 million barrels. Despite many challenges, the mid-year numbers show signs of continued growth for craft breweries. The industry currently provides an estimated 100,000 jobs, contributing significantly to the U.S. economy.

“Craft brewers continue to innovate and brew beers of excellent quality,” noted Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association. “America’s beer drinkers are rapidly switching to craft because of the variety of flavors they are discovering. And they are connecting with small and independent craft brewers as companies they choose to support.”

The U.S. now boasts 1,790 breweries—an increase of 165 additional breweries since June 2010. The Brewers Association also tracks breweries in planning as an indicator of potential new entrants into the craft category, and lists 725 breweries in planning today compared to 389 a year ago. Additionally, the count of craft brewers was at 1,740 as of June 30, 2011.

“There is a growing interest in establishing new breweries,” Gatza added. “It seems like every day we are hearing about a brewery in planning. Will they all make it? No, but many will if they produce high-quality, interesting craft beers and can get them to market through self-distribution and beer wholesalers and beer retailers.”

¹ The definition of a craft brewer as stated by the Brewers Association: An American craft brewer is 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% 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% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.
Three former craft brewing companies left the segment in the second half of 2010 when transitions led them to no longer meet the Brewers Association’s definition of independence.


The Brewers Association is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their craft beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The Brewers Association (BA) represents more than 70 percent of the brewing industry, and its members make more than 99 percent of the beer brewed in the U.S. The BA organizes events including the World Beer Cup®Great American Beer Festival®Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America®, SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience and American Craft Beer Week. The BA publishes The New Brewermagazine and its Brewers Publications division is the largest publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today’s craft brewers and homebrewers.


Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at and about homebrewing via the BA’s American Homebrewers Association. Follow us on Twitter.

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11 thoughts on “Brewers Association reports craft beer volume up 14% in 1st Half 2011

  1. I’d guess – Kona (bought outright by Craft Brewers Alliance- previously the non-“craft” CBA only owned 20% so under the B.A.’s magic “25%”), Magic Hat and Pyramid (bought by North American Breweries)? If OTOH they consider Magic Hat and Pyramid as only 1 brewery at the time (merged as IBU) I can’t think of #3.

    Maybe Anchor, since they were bought by an the import company Preiss, which might be considered an “alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer”?

  2. I find it hilarious that for half the year so far, the total sales of craft beer combined are less than what a “small” brewery could make all year. The BA has sold it soul for a couple breweries who contribute most to their organization. An organization that supposedly prides itself on being small caters to the largest of the “small” brewers.

    Even the definition of a “craft” brewer is a joke. “which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor” Given this, breweries like Russian River, who openly use adjunct in Pliny, are not a craft brewer since Vinnie openly speaks about how it lightens the body of his beer, therefore making it more drinkable. Such a joke.

  3. @Jess, I don’t think that is how it worked exactly…

    …but it would seem strange that Griffin Group could buy Anchor and it would still qualify.

    The purchase was closed in August ( so we should have seen a note in the Brewers Association annual stat report but we didn’t.

    Which leads me to believe that Anchor still meets the definition of craft…

  4. Yeah, we’ve discussed this before how the Brewers Assoc. is inconsistent in how they list some merged/bought breweries. They list CBA as one “brewery” but the Gambrinus owned companies Spoetzl and BridgePort individually. For ’09 Magic Hat and Pyramid were listed separately (even tho’ the deal was in ’08), in ’10 together as “IBU”.

    Yeah, I should have said Anchor was bought by the Griffin Group (Preiss, at the time, was one of their “affliate companies”) but, either way, it was not a “craft brewer” as designated by the B.A.

    (I was in the middle of writing my reply and checking those old B.A. Top 50 listings, when you posted at 6:40 so I didn’t see your comments until after I hit “submit comment”).

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