What you need to know

Mintel estimates sales of craft beer will reach $20 billion in 2014, doubling that of five years ago. Year-over-year growth has been consistent and strong in the category, due to an improving economy, an engaged consumer base, the expansion of offerings, and product innovation that appeals to consumer interest in flavor and variety.

A relatively low percentage of beer drinkers are drawn to craft (23%). However, a strong degree of investment in category (both in terms of price paid for products and connection with the craft beer community) among craft users makes for a desirable consumer base. The ability of products to engage to this group is driving a shift in the total beer market. Large manufacturers, with products that fall outside of industry definitions of craft beer, are capitalizing on the momentum by expanding lines to feature craft-style offerings.

Mintel predicts that as specialty products expand and move into the mainstream, the category will likely adopt a wider base of users, driving sales, and blurring the lines between craft and non-craft offerings.

This report builds on the analysis presented in Mintel’s Beer—US, December 2013, December 2012, and Craft Beer—US, November 2012.


Craft beer refers to artisan-style beers, typically associated with small, independent local or regional brewers. The styles and positioning characterized by craft beer also have been acquired and/or adopted by larger brewing corporations including Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors, which Mintel has included in the overall market size, and segmented out as “craft-style” beer.

While both craft and craft-style brands comprise the overall market size of the report, Mintel has segmented this market into craft and craft-style beers based on the following definition developed by the Brewers Association. In order for a brand to be considered craft it must meet each of the following:

  • Annual production of six million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3% of US annual sales at time of publishing).

  • Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.

  • A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

Value figures throughout this report are at retail selling prices (rsp) excluding sales tax unless otherwise stated.

Data sources

Sales data

  • Market Size and Forecast: On-premise and off-premise sales based on The Brewer's Association; Beverage Industry Group, "Beer Handbook"; Information Resources, Inc. InfoScan Reviews

  • Leading Companies and Brand Analysis: Based on Beverage Information Group, "Beer Handbook"; Institute for Brewing Studies

Consumer survey data

For the purposes of this report, Mintel commissioned exclusive consumer research through GMI to explore consumer consumption of attitudes and behaviors toward craft beer. Mintel was responsible for the survey design, data analysis, and reporting. Fieldwork was conducted March 31-April 9, 2014, among a sample of 1,890 adults aged 22+ with access to the internet.

Mintel selects survey respondents by gender, age, household income, and region so that they are proportionally representative of the US adult population using the internet. Mintel also slightly over-samples, relative to the population, respondents that are Hispanic or Black to ensure an adequate representation of these groups in our survey results and to allow for more precise parameter estimates from our reported findings.

Please note that Mintel surveys are conducted online and in English only. Hispanics who are not online and/or do not speak English are not included in the survey results.

Mintel also has analyzed data from Experian Marketing Services, using the Simmons NCS (National Consumer Study), and the Simmons NHCS (National Hispanic Consumer Study.

The Experian Marketing Services/Simmons NCS/NHCS was carried out during November 2012-December 2013, and the results are based on the sample of 22,703 adults aged 21+, with results weighted to represent the US adult population.

While race and Hispanic origin are separate demographic characteristics, Mintel often compares them to each other. Please note that the responses for race (white, black, Asian, Native American, or other race) will overlap those that also are Hispanic, because Hispanics can be of any race.

Abbreviations and terms


The following is a list of abbreviations used in this report:

CPI Consumer Price Index
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GNPD Global New Products Database
IPA India pale ale
NCS/NHCS National Consumer Study/National Hispanic Consumer Study (Experian Marketing Services)
NPR National Public Radio
rsp Retail selling price

Generations are discussed within this report, and they are defined as:

World War II/Swing generations Members of the WWII Generation were born in 1932 or before and are aged 82 or older in 2014. Members of the Swing Generation were born from 1933 to 1945 and are aged 69-81 in 2014.
Baby Boomers The generation born between 1946 and 1964. In 2014, Baby Boomers are between the ages of 50 and 68.
Generation X The generation born between 1965 and 1976. In 2014, Gen Xers are between the ages of 38 and 49.
Millennials* Born between 1977 and 1994, Millennials are aged 20 to 37 in 2014.
iGeneration Born between 1995 and 2007, members of iGen are aged 7-19 in 2014.
Emerging generation The newest generation began in 2008 as the annual number of births declined sharply with the recession. In 2014 members of this as-yet-unnamed generation are younger than 7.

* also known as Generation Y or Echo Boomers

In order to provide an inflation-adjusted price value for markets, Mintel uses the CPI to deflate current prices. The CPI is defined as follows:

CPI The Consumer Price Index is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.

The CPI and its components are typically used to adjust other economic series for price changes and to translate these series into inflation-free dollars. Examples of series adjusted by the CPI include retail sales, hourly, and weekly earnings, and components of the national income and product accounts. In addition, and in Mintel reports, the CPI is used as a deflator of the value of the consumer’s dollar to find its purchasing power. The purchasing power of the consumer’s dollar measures the change in the value to the consumer of goods and services that a dollar will buy at different dates.

The CPI is generally the best measure for adjusting payments to consumers when the intent is to allow consumers to purchase, at today’s prices, a market basket of goods and services equivalent to one that they could purchase in an earlier period. It is also the best measure to use to translate retail sales into real or inflation-free dollars.

Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics definition.
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