Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gains in craft beer for 2009

There's more growth in US craft brewing despite the recessionary hangover the country has been experiencing. And in New Jersey, craft brewers have been working like mad to keep up with demand.

For 2009, River Horse Brewing (Lambertville) was up about 40 percent and has been looking to boost production capacity; High Point Brewing (Butler) was up 30 percent; Cricket Hill (Fairfield) came in with a 22 percent increase; Dave Hoffmann at Climax Brewing (Roselle Park) had to put some idled fermenters back online to keep up with a 30 percent jump in demand.

Flying Fish (Cherry Hill), the state's largest craft brewer, saw a 6 percent increase in organic growth. (The business world defines organic growth as a growth rate achieved by increased production and enhanced sales. FF's figure may appear smaller than the others, but the brewery's output is at least twice the size of the next largest New Jersey craft brewer, which has typically been River Horse.)

A number of Garden State brewpubs have been busy, too, filling growlers as fast as people can bring them in.

According to the industry trade group Brewers Association, craft beer sales edged up from $6.3 billion in 2008 to $7 billion last year (10.3 percent), and the Colorado-based organization tabbed the increase in craft brewers' production at almost 614,000 barrels year-to-year. (Volume went from 8.5 million barrels in '08 to 9.1 million last year, a 7.2 percent increase).

This is all happening in the face of overall beer sales falling, namely for the macro brewers. And the stats say a lot for craft beer, whose share of the market in the US beer industry is just 4.3 percent of sales and just under 7 percent for volume. Across the entire US beer industry, sales were down nearly 5 million barrels (210.4 million in 2008 to 205.4 million last year.)

Meanwhile, nationally the ranks of craft brewers also grew, from 1,485 to 1,542 from 2008 to 2009.

Last year, brewpub Iron Hill opened in Maple Shade to mark the first new brewer in the Garden State in 10 years. This year, brewpub Port 44 in Newark is expected to get up and running, while production brewers NJ Beer Co. in Hudson County and Turtle Stone Brewery in Cumberland County are working toward that goal.

NJ Beer, located in North Bergen, said on its Twitter and Facebook pages that its brewing system arrived, although it remains in Port Newark, and next week is likely to be a busy one with installation.

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