Craft Brewers See Sales Rise

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- The nation's craft brewers continued to sell more beer in the first half of the year, despite the tough economy, although their rate of growth has slowed.

The Brewers Association, the trade group representing the bulk of craft brewers, said that craft brewers sold 4.2 million barrels in the U.S. in the first half of the year, a 5 percent increase from last year's 4 million barrels. But the growth rate represents a slowdown from the 6.5 percent volume boost posted in the same period last year.

Dollar growth from craft brewers rose 9 percent in the first half of 2009, also a slowdown from 11 percent growth in last year's first half.

The industry considers craft brewers ones who annually produce fewer than 2 million barrels.

The group said there were 1,525 total U.S. breweries, as of July 31. That includes 962 brewpubs, 456 microbreweries and 64 regional craft breweries.

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