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Tough Economy Favors Craft Beers

Hot & Cool Trends

By Cari Martens

In difficult economic times, people are always going to drink. But this time around, it seems more folks are drinking microbrews.

Craft brewers, defined as those who brew less than 2 billion barrels a year, are enjoying good times in this bad economy as consumers trade down from higher-priced wine and cocktails to boutique beers.

In a story by Edith Honan for Reuters, New York beer maker Kelly Taylor talks about the trend. ‘You can buy an exceptional beer for half the price of a mediocre glass of wine,’ he says. Justin Phillips, co-owner of the Beer Table bar in Brooklyn, N.Y., echoes those sentiments. ‘People are recognizing that there is a diverse world of beer. And it tends to be less expensive than other drinks,’ Phillips says.

The number of microbreweries in the U.S. has grown by almost 5 percent in the past 5 years, and the average number of barrels brewed per year by these brewers has increased by 35 percent since 2004.

Boutique beers earned $6.3 billion in retail sales and grew by nearly 6 percent in 2008, just as the economy was cratering.

In addition to the shaky economy, another factor in craft beers’ growing popularity may be the ‘eat (and drink) local’ movement. More beer drinkers are opting to support their local microbrewery.

As the economy begins to recover, it will be interesting to monitor the course of this ‘micro’ trend.

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