In a shrinking US beer market, the Brewers Association has released annual growth figures for the US craft brewing industry that show 4% volume growth.

In 2018, small and independent brewers collectively produced 25.9 million barrels, increasing craft overall beer market share by volume to 13.2%.

Retail dollar value was estimated at $27.6 billion, representing 24.1% market share and 7% growth over 2017. Growth for small and independent brewers occurred in an overall down beer market, which dropped 1% by volume in 2018.

The 50 fastest growing breweries delivered 10% of craft brewer growth. Craft brewers also provided more than 150,000 jobs, an increase of 11% over 2017.

“Craft maintained a fairly stable growth rate in 2018 and continued to gain share in the beer market,” said Bart Watson, chief economist of the Brewers Association. “Small and independent brewers continue to serve as job creators, strong economic contributors, and community beacons.”

There were 7,346 craft breweries operating in 2018, including 4,521 microbreweries, 2,594 brewpubs, and 231 regional craft breweries. Throughout the year, there were 1,049 new brewery openings and 219 closings—a closing rate of 3%.

“The beer landscape is facing new realities with category competition, societal shifts, and other variables in play. There are still pockets of opportunity both in terms of geography and business model, but brewers need to be vigilant about quality, differentiation, and customer service,” added Watson.

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