Imported and craft beer sales have risen across the US market, new research says.

According to the figures published by the Adams Beer Handbook, sales in the US beer industry overall inched up 1.7% last year to 2.892bn cases. The growth among imports, however, was 12% to 397m cases, making the sub-category responsible for nearly 14% of the total US beer market.

Craft beers and super-premium brews together surged 6.6% in 2006, after a 9% boost in 2005; without the super-premiums added in, crafts on their own rose 12%.

"All segments of imports are up and all crafts - all flavours, styles and seasonals - that's the big headline," said Eric Schmidt, manager of information services for the Adams Beverage Group.

As the marketed glamour of sophisticated contemporary beverages pulled some consumers away from beer, as well as consumers growing more health and weight consciousness, distilled spirits and wine consumption  climbed last year, outpacing beer. Domestic brewers have found the most success with light beers.

Last year, Mexican beers lead the way among imports. The seven leading Mexican beers grew a minimum of 9.8% each, with Corona,, now the sixth best-selling overall in the US up 9.8%. Other well-known imports such as Heineken, Guinness Stout, Newcastle Brown Ale, Labatt Blue Light and Stella Artois showed growth as well.

Among craft beers, Yuengling grew 4.5%, Sierra Nevada by 1.5%, Fat Tire Amber Ale 10.6% and Widmer Hefeweizen 17.9%. Among domestic premium brews, light beers  - the largest segment with now more than a 50% share of the US market increased by 2.3%. Bud Light increased its lead over the next best seller, Budweiser, by more than 40m cases, increasing 4.3% to top out at 560m cases last year.