While Americans continue to feed the demand for craft beer—chipping away a small market share from the big guns like Budweiser and Miller -- many countries are developing a thirst for these small batch, handcrafted beers.
American craft beer export volume grew 35.7 percent last year, generating almost $100 million for domestic brewers, according to data from the Brewers Association, the trade group for American independent craft brewers. In the U.S., about one out of every 10 beers sold is made by a small or independent craft brewer.
“Small and independent brewers are spreading the culture and community of craft beer around the globe," Brewers Association CEO Bob Pease, told Fortune. “Beer drinkers internationally are embracing the innovation and flavors offered by American craft brewers.”
Of foreign consumers, Brazil has seen the greatest spike in interest for American craft beer, with a year-over-year export growth at 64 percent. The Asia-Pacific region, which does not include Japan, saw a 38 percent increase while Western Europe was 37 percent.
But in terms of overall volume, our neighbors to the north import the most craft beer from the U.S. Canada accounted for 53 percent of domestic craft beer exports. Sweden accounts for 12 percent, while the U.K. account for 10 percent.
“I think there’s a lot of curiosity around the world about American craft beer,” Brendan J. Moylan, proprietor of Marin Brewing Co. in Larkspur, Calif. told Fortune.
“In a lot of the older countries there’s an old-school mentality that has left pretty generic guidelines for what beermakers are making. The craft beer scene in America has let us be free and make whatever the heck we want.”
While international sales are a growing market, according to the Brewers Association’s Export Development Program, just 80 small breweries export their beers—roughly 2 percent of the total amount of craft beer brewed domestically. Many are limited by their small capacity.
Still some brewers point to America’s opaque distribution laws which often make it difficult for smaller companies to gain entry into new markets. Exporting beer overseas is a way to generate more revenue
“It is easier for me to see beer overseas than it is in my own neighborhood or across state lines – and that’s ridiculous,” Moylan said. “America should not be standing in the way of small businesses.”