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    High-End Brews Drive Increase in Retail Beer Sales

    New data shows retail sales rose 2 percent in 2011, with premium domestic and imported beers leading the way.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 2011 was a good year for beer in retail outlets, with retail sales increasing more than 2 percent, according to new data released by national trade association, Beer Institute. The category also continues to boast the largest share of revenue and volume in the alcohol beverage sector, compared to wine and hard liquor.

    "Beer continues to be the preferred alcohol beverage of Americans," said Joe McClain, president of the Beer Institute. "With sales exceeding $98 billion, the beer industry continues to enjoy the largest share of revenue and volume within the alcohol beverage sector when compared to wine and spirits. While many of our core consumers are still impacted by a slow economic recovery, we are pleased to see a bump in last year's retail sales, driven by high-end premium domestic and imported beers."

    Beer's increased revenue came primarily from high-end brews, according to Nielsen data. Sales of import, craft and above-premium beers sold off-premises increased nearly 3 percent last year.

    "We are pleased to see retail sales grew last year. This positive trend is not only good news for brewers and importers, but also for the 900,000 men and women in this country whose jobs at supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants, bars, stadiums and other outlets are supported by beer sales," added McClain. "We look forward to another year of growth, crafting a product so many Americans love and having a positive economic impact in communities across America."

    The beer industry directly and indirectly supports approximately 1.8 million jobs in the United States, including 547,000 at beer-selling retail establishments, according to the latest "Beer Serves America" study.

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