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The State of Craft Beer in America: Brewers Association Tracks Industry's Growth

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Every March, the Brewers Association (BA) release figures on data it has accumulated over the past year that represents the growth (or, rarely, decline) of the craft beer industry. BA is the trade association for the little guys, who are defined as being small, independent and traditional.

The state of craft beer in America in 2014 is as good as anyone could have predicted. For the first time ever, craft brewers reached double-digit (11 percent) volume share of the marketplace. Megabrewers produce 89 percent of beer in the United States, if you can believe it, so the endless varieties from your favorite breweries are still just a small, but growing, percentage.

The year saw incredible growth in the sheer number of breweries that exist in this country. The number of operating breweries grew 19 percent, totaling 3,464 breweries. Broken down, the differing types of breweries numbered 1,871 microbreweries, 1,412 brewpubs, and 135 regional craft breweries. Throughout the year, there were 615 new brewery openings and only 46 closings.

In 2014, craft brewers produced 22.2 million barrels, and saw an 18 percent rise in volume and a 22 percent increase in retail dollar value, estimated at $19.6 billion representing 19.3 percent market share. That figure is doubly amazing considering that the total beer market only grew a half of a percent. Consider that for a moment. While craft grew in record numbers, the rest of the beer industry seemed to struggle to stay afloat.

“With the total beer market up only 0.5 percent in 2014, craft brewers are key in keeping the overall industry innovative and growing," said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. "This steady growth shows that craft brewing is part of a profound shift in American beer culture—a shift that will help craft brewers achieve their ambitious goal of 20 percent market share by 2020."

“These small businesses are one of the bright spots in both our economy and culture. Craft brewers are serving their local communities, brewing up jobs and boosting tourism,” added Watson. “Craft brewers are creating high quality, differentiated beers; new brewers that match this standard will be welcomed in the market with open arms.”

Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers, and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.

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