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American Craft Beer Booms

Added: Friday, June 1st 2007

A surge of interest in U.S. craft beers has taken sales through the 10% barrier. American craft brewers recorded a stunning increase in sales in 2006 of 11.7%. For the first time ever, this takes the craft sector through the 10% market share barrier and makes them major players in the world's biggest beer market.

According to the Brewers' Association in Boulder, Colorado, this is the third year running that craft brewers have increased sales. They are a major force in a country dominated for decades by such global giants as Anheuser-Busch, Coors and Miller. Sales last year accounted for 6,600,000 barrels and were worth $4.2 billion.

The surge in sales of craft-brewed beers is the result of genuine consumer demand and explains why Anheuser-Busch is now busily wholesaling imported beers, including lager from its deadly rival, the Czech Budweiser Budvar.

There are now around 1,377 craft breweries in the United States and some, including Samuel Adams in Boston, enjoy national as well as regional sales. The sector has come a long way since Fritz Maytag saved the ailing Anchor Steam Brewery in San Francisco in 1965 and wrote his own chapter of the American Dream. He was joined by veteran Canadian/Scot Bert Grant, who started to brew ales -- including cask versions -- in the remote hop-growing region of Yakima County in Washington State.

Now the vast country is studded with craft breweries. Some concentrate on British styles and fashion brilliant interpretations of IPA, pale ale, porter, stout and barley wine, while some of German descent make their versions of Pilsner, Helles and Bock. They appeal to a growing number of beer drinkers that are bored with drinking the advertising and the bland, characterless beers of the global producers.

"Craft beer has become a great American success stoiry and today U.S. craft breers are being watched, emulated and celebrated globally," says Julia Herz, Director of Beer Marketing at the Brewers' Association. "Demand has become contagious. Craft beer is satisfying the thirst and enthusiasm of a continuously growing number of beer drinkers who are seeking flavour, diversity and value."

*The A C Nielsen group's latest report on world food and beverages shows that beer is enjoying a worldwide surge in demand and sales. It is now the world's most popular beverage, followed by soft drinks, with wine in third place.