2010 – The Year of Craft Beer Success

2010 was a banner year for craft brewers all across the nation, according to data recently released by the Brewers Association. Most small craft breweries are represented by the Brewers Association, and the BA has become one of the foremost authorities on the industry in general. According to new information, craft brewers saw an increase in both retail sales and volume sold, something that the big brewing companies have not been able to match.

During a year where companies like Budweiser and Busch posted declines in sales, craft brewers in general enjoyed an increase of 12 percent in retail sales dollars, and an 11 percent increase in the volume of beer sold. That equates to a significant amount of growth year over year, and shows just how many Americans are now finding their love for craft beers of all types. The combined growth percentages represent about 14 million more cases of craft beer sold in 2010 than in 2009 – certainly not figures to sniff at!

In addition, the Brewers Association has also confirmed that the number of American breweries now in operation is the highest of all time. Not since 1900 have there been this many breweries creating their own beers across the country. 1900 saw 1751 breweries in the US. That dropped to 0 in 1930, when Prohibition went into effect and the nation’s breweries fell away. It took a very long time for that number to grow.

In 1936, there were somewhere around 1,000 breweries operating. That number dropped over the years. 1980 marked the lowest point since Prohibition. After 1990, things started looking up dramatically. Today, there are 1759 breweries operating throughout the country, which is the most at any point since records first started being kept.

The craft beer industry was responsible for almost 8 percent of all retail dollars in the beer industry – about $7.6 billion. As an interesting side note, about 3 percent of those breweries are putting out their brews in cans, which is a new trend but one that is growing quickly throughout all breweries as the cost effectiveness and other benefits become more apparent (and as consumers become more welcoming of the move). 

2010 was an incredible year for craft breweries of all shapes and sizes. However, 2011 is shaping up to be an even better year, as sales are already off to an incredible start. Hopefully 2011 will trump the records of 2010.