The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is one of the first publications to print numbers for the beer industry’s performance in 2008 and things are about on par with where industry experts expected. Sales of craft beer, as defined by Beer Marketer’s Insights, totaled 9.45 million barrels in 2008, a 5-percent increase over the previous year. As the Brewers Association’s total craft beer production number for 2007 was 8,071,241 barrels, BMI likely includes several larger near-craft brands excluded by the BA. The craft segment again beat the overall industry, which turned in a healthy gain of .5-percent. Craft sales enjoyed double-digit growth rates in recent years.
I haven’t seen the BMI numbers yet but a few highlights from the report include a 1.1-percent increase in sales by Sierra Nevada Brewing, a 3.5-percent drop for Miller Lite, which now becomes MillerCoors’ second best-selling brand after Coors Light, and Budweiser dropping 6.1-percent.
Perhaps of greatest interest is that the Boston Beer Company finally went through the magic 2 million barrel mark after posting a monster 8.5-percent increase. With this achievement, Boston Beer and the Brewers Association and its members are going to have to seriously discuss how to handle a “macro craft” brewer. Boston Beer’s numbers include the Twisted Tea line of products, which it could argue should be subtracted from its beer totals for purposes of sneaking in under the Brewers Association’s below 2 million barrel definitional requirement. Boston Beer remains a craft brewer under it’s own definition, which as you may recall defines “small brewer” as one with an “annual production of beer less than 2 million barrels or annual production of beer exceeds 2 million barrels and the brewery was founded as a Craft Brewer and continues to satisfy the other Craft Brewer defining criteria.”