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US: Brewery count hits 125-year high, craft beer H1 sales rise

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The number of breweries in the US has hit a 125-year high, while sales of craft beers are continuing to soar, latest figures show. 

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The Brewers Association revealed yesterday (6 August) that the US currently has 2,126 breweries, a 19.7% rise year-on-year. The last time the country had anywhere near this number was 1887, when 2,011 breweries existed (see table below). 

As of the end of June, 97% of these are craft brewers, the association said. An extra 1,252 breweries are also at the planning stage, compared to 725 a year ago.

Sales are also up for craft beers. Sales in value terms jumped 14% in the first six months of 2012, while volumes were up 12%, the figures show. Craft brewers sold an estimated 6m barrels in H1. 

The association, which represents small and independent US brewers, said that, despite a "number of challenges" including an overall drop in beer sales, the signs were good for craft brewers. 

Paul Gatza, the association's director, said: “Generally, most craft brewers are continuing to see strong growth in production, sales, brewing capacity and employment, which is to be celebrated during challenged times for many of today’s small businesses."

He added: "Beer drinkers are responding to the quality and diversity created by small American brewing companies. India pale ales, seasonal beers, Belgian-inspired ales and a range of specialty beers are just a few of the beer styles that are growing rapidly.”

Lately, global brewers such as Anheuser-Busch InBev and Carlsberg have been experimenting with craft brews. A-B InBev is launching a limited-edition selection in October, while Carlsberg is launching a craft lager in Denmark around the same time. 


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