NEW YORK -- As craft beer continues to grow in popularity, India Pale Ales (IPAs) are a key driver behind that growth.
According to Nielsen, IPAs captured 12.1 percent of U.S. sales among craft beers in 2013, up from 9.1 percent in 2011, making them the third most-popular craft style behind Seasonals and Witbier. In addition, IPAs -- which are characterized by high doses of hops -- were the second-largest driver of craft growth in 2013, accounting for 16.8 percent.
Retailers are helping fuel that growth by increasing their IPA stock, the research firm said, with convenience store operators upping their stake in the game. In 2010, only about 11 percent of c-stores carried IPAs. In the latest four weeks, 32 percent carried them. The channel is now responsible for about 39 percent of IPAs' growth.
In addition, the average grocery store carries 12 brands, up from just more than six in 2011, Nielsen added.
American IPAs account for 85 percent of IPA sales and have driven 83 percent of growth in the latest 52 weeks. Imperial (or Double) IPAs, which have a higher alcohol-by-volume level, follow with 9 percent of IPA sales and 13 percent of growth.
According to Nielsen, given IPAs' continued growth, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, it's unlikely that the trend will reverse any time soon. The Pacific Northwest accounts for the most craft sales of any style, and IPAs account for about 22 percent of case sales in the region.
IPAs also continue to claim an increasing share of craft sales over the past few years in the Pacific Northwest. Four years ago, IPAs accounted for about 16 percent of craft case sales. Today, they claim 23 percent of craft sales.