Big Rock Brewery Income Trust posted an increase in earnings for the first nine months of the year as a result of "successful strategic initiatives".

Year-to-date net earnings totalled C$6.8m (US$6.4m), up from C$3.4m for the same period last year, the company reported.

Gross profits increased 4.7% to reach C$22m for the nine-month period.

For the nine months ended 30 September net sales reached C$35.7m, a 7.2% increase on the prior year.

For the same period, sales volumes were up 34% compared to the same period of 2008 to reach 167,710 hl. The higher volumes reflect increased consumer demand across all brands, resulting from continued attention on retail sales promotions focused on 'at-home' consumption, combined with retail and on-premise sales initiatives.

For the nine months, sales in Alberta and British Columbia led the increase, contributing 20,329 hl of the total 33,958 hl year-to-date growth. Sales volumes in the remaining provinces and territories remained generally flat for the nine month period compared to the same period of 2008, the company said.

"We continue to see the results of our commitment to be a premium craft brewer - and the success of our high quality products," Ed McNally, president and CEO said.

He added: "A strong sales team and a focus on cost control have combined to provide solid results to our unitholders".

Big Rock said it expects consumer demand for premium craft brewery products to remain "positive" for the balance of 2009.

"In response to this heightened demand, we will continue to invest in focused marketing opportunities to create brand awareness and sustained volume growth throughout the remainder of the year and into 2010," the company said in a statement.

Last month, Big Rock Brewery confirmed details of its latest monthly share payment.

The Canada-based craft brewer said its income trust will pay C$0.10 per trust unit for the month of October.

The payment will be made on 16 November to unitholders of record on 30 October, Big Rock said.