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Americans Drinking More Craft Beer     Photo: The Source Reno/flickr

We've Entered a Craft Beer Bull Market

Americans just can't get enough beer

Americans have had it with watered-down swill.

The mid-year report released by the Brewers Association (BA) reported that American craft-beer-production volume has increased by 18 percent for the first half of 2014. Approximately 10.6 million barrels of craft beer were sold during the past six months, up from approximately 9 million barrels from the first half of 2013.

BA chief economist Bart Wilson said:

The sustained double-digit growth of the craft category shows the solidity of demand for fuller-flavored beer in a variety of styles from small and independent American producers. Craft brewers are providing world-class, innovative products that continue to excite beer lovers and energize the industry.

As of June 30, 3,040 breweries were in operation in the United States, of which 99 percent were craft breweries. According to the Brewers Association, craft breweries currently employ an estimated 110,273 people.

All this—plus Outside's frequent and enthusiastic coverage of artisanal suds—might leave you wondering about the precise definition of "craft brewer." The Brewers Association Board of Directors recently approved changes to its official definition. Here is the latest:  

An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional. Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer. Traditional: A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

Save the mass-produced stuff for your beer mile exploits.