Craft brewer sales grow 7 percent in a year of decreased beer sales for other brewers

Boulder, CO, March 8, 2010 – The Brewers Association, the trade association that tabulates production statistics for US breweries, today released 2009 data on the U.S. craft brewing industry. In a year when other brewers saw a slowdown in sales, small and independent craft brewers (see definition)1 saw sales dollars increase 10.3 percent and volume increase 7.2 percent2 over 2008, representing a growth of 613,992 barrels to roughly 8.5 million cases.

Brewers Association

Overall, U.S. beer sales were down approximately 5 million barrels (31 gallons per U.S. barrel) in 2009.

“Beer lovers continue to find great value and enjoyment in fuller flavored craft beers,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association. “Americans have an increasing appreciation of craft beers, and the growing number of brewers behind them. They’re eager to try the latest seasonal release and to sample a variety of beers from different breweries.”

In 2009, craft brewers represented 4.3 percent of volume and 6.9 percent of retail dollars for the total U.S. beer category. With the total U.S. beer industry representing an estimated retail dollar value of $101 billion, the Brewers Association estimates the actual dollar sales figure from craft brewers in 2009 was $6.98 billion,* up from $6.3 billion in 2008.

The total number of U.S. craft brewers grew from 1,485 to 1,542 in 2009, and they produced 9,115,635 barrels, up from 8,501,713 barrels in 2008. Overall U.S. beer sales fell from approximately 210.4 million barrels to 205.8 million barrels.

The 2009 growth and popularity of beer from small and independent breweries did not go unnoticed by industry observers. The National Restaurant Association Chef Survey (see results), for example, cited “locally-produced wine and beer” among its top five overall trends to watch for in 2010. In the alcohol and cocktails category, the organization ranked “locally-produced wine and beer” as its top trend, while “food-beer pairings” came in at number five on the list.

For More Information

Find more statistics on the craft brewing industry in the updated 2009 Craft Beer Industry Statistics on the Brewers Association website. A more extensive analysis will be released on April 8, 2010 during the Craft Brewers Conference in Chicago. The Association’s full 2009 industry analysis, which shows regional trends and sales by individual brewery, will be published in the May/June 2010 issue of The New Brewer.

The Brewers Association also publishes a list of 2009 US Craft Brewing Companies on its website.

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 2 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.

2 Volume by craft brewers represent total taxable production.

*A previous version of this release rounded this figure up to $7 billion


Barbara Fusco, Sales, Marketing Director, 303.447.0816 x 152

Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director, 303.447.0816 x 113

# # #

Based in Boulder, Colorado, USA, the Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade and education association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their craft beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. Visit, to learn more. The association’s activities include events and publishing:, World Beer Cup; Great American Beer Festival; Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America; National Homebrewers Conference; National Homebrew Competition; SAVOR: An American Craft Beer and Food Experience; American Craft Beer Week; Zymurgy magazine; The New Brewer magazine; and books on beer and brewing. The Brewers Association has an additional membership division of 19,000+ homebrewers: American Homebrewers Association.

Consumers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at