Craft beer enjoys another banner year

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You don't need the Boulder-based Brewers Association to tell you craft beer continues its insistent rise. Just look at the expansion of Trinity Brewing Co.'s barrel room; or Bristol Brewing Co.'s takeover of half the Ivywild School; or Phantom Canyon Brewing Co.'s push skyward. Or even just notice how brand-new outfits, like the nascent Red Leg Brewing, just keep coming. In fact, the BA says a new brewery opens somewhere in the U.S. every day.

It's numbers like that, that the association released today. They show that while the total U.S. beer market grew in the last year by just 1 percent, those brewing craft concoctions blew up by 15 percent in volume produced, and 17 percent in dollars. All told, 10.2 percent of beer money spent in the last year went to craft beer, for a total of $10.2 billion, up from $8.7 billion.

“Beer is a $99 billion industry to which craft brewers are making a significant contribution, with retail sales share hitting double digits for the first time in 2012,” says Paul Gatza, the director of Brewers Association, in a release. “Small and independent brewers are consistently innovating and producing high quality, flavor-forward craft brewed beer. Americans are not only responding to greater access to these products, but also to the stories and people behind them.”

To date, there are 2,403 small breweries operating in the U.S. — you who have done the Great American Beer Festival know this to be true — with 409 opening last year and only 43 closing. All told, the industry employs some 108,000 people.

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