Craft beer industry continues to grow

Boston Beer Co. is still leading the craft beer industry. (Samuel Adams / PRNewsFoto)

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The craft beer revolution kept charging ahead in 2012, when 12% more barrels were shipped than the year before, the sixth straight year of growth.

Of 27 major craft brewers – all of which saw some gain – 16 had double digit increases, according to industry research group Beer Marketer’s Insights' Craft Brew News publication.

In all, the craft beer industry enjoyed a 1.5 million barrel boost to 13.7 million barrels total.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager maker Boston Beer led the segment, with craft beer shipments rising as much as 3% to nearly 2.2 million barrels. But the company’s share of the industry has slid to 15.7% from 21% in 2008, according to the report.

Sierra Nevada, a brewer based in Chico, is the second largest in the sector. Its 12.6% shipping gain to 966,000 barrels was its best advancement in more than a decade.

Petaluma brewer Lagunitas Brewing had a blockbuster year, with shipments booming 46% to 235,000 barrels. The company – which makes labels such as Hop Stoopid Ale and Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale, has more than quintupled its shipments in five years.

Unlike the general beer industry, where Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors control some 80% of business, craft beer operators exist in more of a diaspora. More than three-quarters of the craft beer segment is split among 2,000 smaller rivals.

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