Drinking more craft beer? You’re not alone

The Brewers Association announced that sales of what it defines as craft beer grew 14 percent in the first half of 2011, with dollar sales up 15 percent.

Craft brewers sold an estimated 5.1 million barrels in the first half of the year.

“Craft brewers continue to innovate and brew beers of excellent quality,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association. “America’s beer drinkers are rapidly switching to craft because of the variety of flavors they are discovering. And they are connecting with small and independent craft brewers as companies they choose to support.”

The association reports that the number of breweries nationally has increased by 165 since June of 2010, to 1,790 breweries. Additionally, it lists 725 breweries in planning today compared to 389 a year ago.

“There is a growing interest in establishing new breweries,” Gatza added. “It seems like every day we are hearing about a brewery in planning. Will they all make it? No, but many will if they produce high-quality, interesting craft beers and can get them to market through self-distribution and beer wholesalers and beer retailers.”