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Craft breweries are on a roll

With the

Great American Beer Festival

(September 24-26) and the first ever Denver Beer Fest (September 18-27) both around the corner, the craft beer industry's major trade group has released some mid-year statistics on what's been brewing nationwide.

The Brewers Association reports that craft brewers sold 4.2 million barrels of brewski during the first six months of 2009, up from 4 million barrels during the same time period last year. Sales numbers grew by 9 percent over the first half of 2008.

Even more interesting, however, is the fact that there are now 1,525 breweries in the United States, the most there have been in almost a century, since just before Prohibition. Most of that growth has come in the last twenty years, as there were only about 350 breweries in 1990.

And yet, the $6.3 billion craft beer industry is only about 4 percent (by volume) and 6.3 percent (by sales) of the beer industry as a whole.

Who's doing their part? Well, Oskar Blues, the Lyons/Longmont-based canned beer empire, reported Monday that its production in the first half of 2009 is up 84 percent over the same six months in 2008.

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