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Craft Beer Sales Outpace Expectations

Photo by Kirk Siegler
Brewers Assoc. director Paul Gatza stands in front of his Boulder office's new "tap room."

Sales of craft-brewed beer continued to soar nationally and in Colorado in the first six months of this year, according to new figures released by the Boulder-based trade group, the Brewers Association.

The group which polls its members around the country twice a year says the volume of craft beer brewed and sold grew by 14%, compared to a 9% growth over the same period last year.  This as sales overall in the industry dipped slightly. 

So the takeaway?  A Sunshine Wheat or Dale’s Pale Ale appears to be recession-proof, while a Coors Light or Stella maybe not so much. 

Brewers Association director Paul Gatza attributes the craft industry’s continued growth to a return to localism. 

"These breweries are parts of the community and people are supporting the community," Gatza said from his office in downtown Boulder.  "With the recession I think people thought that, well, 'if I buy a local beer that money’s going to bounce around the economy here and it’s going to help my community.'" 

Gatza said that is one of the factors behind the propel in numbers, the other is that brewers in Colorado around the country continue to produce new, innovative products, he said.

"Craft brewers have steam-rolled through the recession," Gatza said.

Even amid the tough economic times, Gatza noted there are more than 700 small-scale breweries slated to open across the country this year.  Though he conceded his industry is still a small fragment - about five percent - of the entire US beer market.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.
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