Despite Economy, Craft Beer Industry Grows

Small scale breweries — those that produce less than two million barrels of beer a year — are growing. Sales of craft beer were up 9 percent during the first half of 2009. The number of U.S. breweries making craft beer has risen to more than 1,500. That's a 5 percent increase in breweries from five years ago.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

There's another industry that's growing despite the overall economic downturn and that provides our last word in business today: craft beer.

John Cochran is the co-owner of Terrapin Brewery in Athens, Georgia, one of about 1500 craft brewers in this country. Cochran says he plans to boost production of his ales this year by more than 25 percent.

Mr. JOHN COCHRAN (Co-owner, Terrapin Brewery): What it comes down to is a lot of people now, they don't have the money to take the big vacation, to buy the new cars, things like that but they still want to feel like they're treating themselves to something nice. So, you know, they can go out and buy some of the best beers in the world for $10 or so a bottle.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And that's cheaper than many bottles of fine wine. Also adding fizz to the business of craft brewing, experts say, is increasing interest in locally produced products. Craft beers are defined as coming from small breweries that produce less than two million barrels a year.

For some perspective each year, Anheuser-Busch brews well over 100 million barrels of its nationally marketed beer brand.

MONTAGNE: And that's the business news from NPR News.

I'm Renee Montagne.

INSKEEP: And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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