Craft beer sales up 2% in 1999

Led by New Belgium, many breweries enjoy booming year

Apr 2, 2000 - The craft brewing industry got back on track in 1999, according to figures released by the Institute for Brewing Studies in Boulder, Colo. After a flat year in 1998, domestic specialty brewing sales were up 2%, leaving room for cautious optimism about 2000.


"I remember well that in August of 1997 things started going downhill for the craft-brewing industry," said hop vendor Ralph Olson of Hopunion U.S.A., Inc. "Then in August of 1999 it started to stabilize. By September I saw it growing again and I knew 2000 was going to be a good year-and it is."

IBS figures show that brewpubs, microbreweries, regional specialty breweries and contract brewing companies sold 5.7 million barrels in 1999, compared to 5.6 million in 1998. Market share remained at 2.9% of the total amount of beer sold in the U.S., the same share as 1998.

Of the top 50 companies in the craft-brewing industry (based on barrels shipped), 25 enjoyed double-digit growth in 1999. Colorado's New Belgium Brewing Co. experienced the most dramatic jump, growing 41%.

Many brewing companies bounced back from previous years of decline. Pyramid Breweries, down in both 1997 and 1998, was up 2% in 1999. While Redhook Ale Brewery and Boston Beer Co. showed an overall decline for calendar year 1999, both breweries saw sales trends turn positive in the last half of the year and expect the trend to continue in 2000.

"While the rate of growth did slow down during 1996, 1997 and 1998, a little-recognized fact is that overall category performance was never negative," said IBS director David Edgar adds. "It was either flat or up during those years, but the amount of craft beer sold never declined from a previous year."

"I think the media was really hard on the industry because they looked at a few public companies and said that things are not doing well," said Malcom "Mac" Rankin of Mac and Jack's Brewery in Redmond, Wash.

Companies that had double-digit growth in 1999
(among the industry Top 50)

Company 1999 % Growth
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 436,000 bbl.
New Belgium Brewing Co. 147,950
Deschutes Brewery 87,444
Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. 71,973
Alaskan Brewing Co. 69,847
Mendocino Brewing Co. 47,154
Summit Brewing Co. 42,474
Long Trail Brewing Co. 40,000
Boulevard Brewing Co. 39,339
Rock Bottom Restaurants 33,589
Brooklyn Brewery 31,906
Shipyard Brewery 28,900
BridgePort Brewing Co. 26,180
Magic Hat Brewery 25,500
Otter Creek Brewing Co. 22,325
Kalamazoo Brewing Co. 21,196
Great Lakes Brewing Co. 20,565
Anderson Valley Brewing Co. 16,700
Broadway Brewing Co. 16,700
Mac and Jack's Brewery 16,066
Lagunitas Brewing Co. 14,800
Hales Ales 14,200
Schirf Brewing Co./Wasatch Brewery   13,981
Uinta Brewing Co. 13,054

Information provided by the Institute for Brewing Studies

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