Saint Arnold Brewing Company has posted a healthy rise in full-year production.

The Texas-based company, which claims to be the oldest craft brewery in the state, said yesterday (16 January) that production rose by more than 20% in 2006, the third consecutive year of growth in excess of 20%.

Volumes at the brewer reached a record 13,638 31-gallon barrels in 2006, which was up by 25% on 2005.

The company said strong demand had prompted it to invest in boosting production capacity by 67%. During 2006, four new 120-barrel fermenters were added along with a new beer tank, filtration system and extra refrigeration.

"2006 was a banner year for Saint Arnold Brewing, with strong demand across all our beer styles and lots of excitement about our single-batch Saint Arnold Divine Reserve series," said the company's founder, Brock Wagner. "In 2007, we will deliver on our commitment to using the finest ingredients to produce flavourful, quality beer while continuing to experiment and stretch boundaries with our Divine Reserve brand."

According to data from the Brewer's Association, the craft and microbrewery segment of the US beer market is growing strongly. Recent figures from the association show that craft beer production grew by 11% in the first six months of 2006, considerably outpacing growth in the market as a whole.

In 2005, around 1,400 craft brewers produced in the region of 6.3m barrels of beer, worth about US$3.8bn in sales.