CRAFT BEER STRONG
- Craft beer's rate of growth is accelerating, reflecting the growing popularity of diverse beers from small breweries, according to the Brewers Association here. Craft beer volume in all channels, including pubs and restaurants, grew 11% in the first half of 2006 vs. the year-ago period, following volume increases of 9% in all of 2005 and 7% in 2004. The market last charted double-digit growth in 1996, when volume was up 26%. The beer association attributed that growth to a 35% increase in the number of craft breweries. The number of breweries has stayed constant in recent years, suggesting that current volume growth is coming from established breweries, according to the association.