We’ve used the phrases “Craft Beer Movement” and “Craft Beer Revolution” so frequently on these pages that you’d think we spend all of our time writing manifestos and predicting the demise of the powers-that-be.

But those phrases don’t mean much if the numbers don’t back them up. If craft beer is growing at a plodding pace or staying stable, there’s no “movement” and certainly no “revolution. Even if the industry is growing quickly, it has to be growing faster than other segments of the beer world for it to really be considered a revolution. Otherwise, it would just be part of an overall rising tide.

Fortunately, the Brewers Association exists to justify our usage of radicalized terminology. Yesterday, they released a synopsis of their analysis of the 2010 craft beer industry numbers (the full analysis will be available in a few months in the Brewers Association’s New Brewer periodical). Let’s hit the highlights:

  1. Craft brewers saw volume increases of 11% from 2009 to 2010 (9.95 million craft beer barrels produced in 2010, the total US beer industry produced 203.6 million barrels)
  2. Craft brewers saw sales increases of 12% from 2009 to 2010 ($7.6 billion in 2010, the total US beer industry sales were about $101 billion)
  3. Based on those numbers, craft brewers represented 4.9% of volume and 7.6% of beer sales in 2010.
  4. While craft brewers have seen unprecedented growth, overall beer sales were actually DOWN 1% from 2009 to 2010 (and down 2.2% from 2008 to 2009).

Add all that up, and the term “revolution” doesn’t seem so revolutionary. US beer sales have been dropping over the past few years…but craft beer continues to grow by double-digit percentages. When one segment of an industry is growing in leaps and bounds while the rest of the industry is flagging…that seems like a pretty sure sign of a sea change to me. We are indeed in a “Golden Age” of craft beer and the numbers back up our blustery rhetoric. Thanks to the Brewers Association for justifying our existence. A new age is dawning Alehead Nation! A new world is ahead of us! Look out at that ocean of sudsy, frothy, hop-laden goodness! It’s glorious!

And before I sign off, here are some other fun facts that came out of the Brewers Association report:

  1. Canned craft beer now makes up about 3% of total volume of all craft beer.
  2. 2010 saw an 8% increase in new breweries from 2009 (1,759 operating breweries in 2010…with an additional 618 new breweries in the planning stages).
  3. There have never been more breweries in the US then there are right now (the former all-time high was at the turn of the 20th century, before Prohibition).

Good times. Good times, indeed.

One thought on “VIVA LA REVOLUCION!

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