The popularity of craft beer in the US went from strength to strength in 2006 with sales up almost 12% on the year, according to industry figures.

The country's craft brewers posted an 11.7% jump in sales volume last year, the Brewers Association said yesterday (20 February).

Craft brewers sold over 6.6m barrels, or around 204.6m US gallons last year, equivalent to around 7.7m hectolitres. In terms of retail sales, craft beer generated US$4.2bn, the association said.

"US craft brewers are being watched, emulated and celebrated globally," said Julia Herz, the association's director of craft beer marketing. "Demand has become contagious. Craft beer is satisfying the thirst and beer enthusiasm of a continuously growing number of beer drinkers who are seeking flavour, diversity and value."

According to the Brewers Association, a craft brewer is a company that is "small, independent and traditional" and produces less than 2m barrels.