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Despite dropping performance for domestic and imported beer, the craft beer market seems poised for even greater heights and has climbed strongly, based on a brand new report from market research firm Mintel. The craft beer market is growing and craft beer lovers are looking to seeking out new places to buy craft beer.

And the upward trend shouldn’t stop there; Mintel also predictions that by 2017, craft beer sales will reach $18 billion.

Unlike its imported and national beer counterparts, craft beer has been able to defy general beer market trends and continue expansion during subsequent slow recovery and the economic decline, a beverage analyst at Mintel, ” Jennifer Zegler, said in a press release. “While the craft and craft-design beer group stays a modest section of the $78 billion U.S. beer sector, the category has been able to stabilize the overall beer industry, which has experienced volume declines in the national and imported beer classes since 2008.”

Statistical data reaffirms Mintel’s optimistic prognosis for craft beer. Mintel polling suggested that 24 percent of beer drinkers said that they drank more craft beer sold at stores in 2012 as compared to 2011, and 22 percent claim they have more craft beer in pubs or restaurants.

Mintel identifies consumers aged 25-34 as the craft beer marketplace’s main age range. This age range additionally notes taste as an important part of drinking craft. 43 percent of millennials and Generation X prefer the flavor of craft to national, compared to 32 percent of Baby Boomers.

However, brewing procedure and the often complex taste results in premium pricing.

Additionally, Mintel notes that “corporate-owned craft-fashion brands including Leinenkugel’s, Blue Moon, and Shock Top are offering consumers a point of entry into the segment through approachable taste profiles, mainstream marketing, and wide availability.”

And while “total-flavored craft beer options [ are ] not an everyday choice for most beer drinkers,” Mintel noted that 45 percent of consumers say they would try more craft beers if they knew about them.

Despite the assortment of beer releases created by craft breweries, craft beers are not yet everyday beer choices for most drinkers because of lack of comprehension about their flavor profiles,” Zegler said. “To continue growing, craft beer enlarge allure beyond millennials who are most likely to consume craft beer and must be its own best advocate. An additional barrier is lack of knowledge. Craft brewers must focus on education through tastings and courses that inform consumers about the differentiation in flavor between craft beer and other alcoholic drinks.”

A sense of community and local pride has added to craft beer’s consumer attractiveness. Mintel found that 50 percent of craft beer drinkers express interest in locally- made beer, 25 percent are interested in buying craft beer where it was brewed, and 39 percent are affected to buy craft beer that’s a relatable character.

How do people buy craft beer?

“Buying local craft beer isn’t restricted to supporting one’s homebase; it also provides consumers with the ability to support towns they don’t now call home,” Zegler said. “To bring that local feel to consumers regardless of place, craft breweries should consider partnering to create multibrewery variety packs that would offer consumers a taste of one city, state, or area. These taste-of-an-place packages would allow consumers to experience smaller breweries from their own or other geographies.” Some craft beer lovers are turning to the internet to buy craft beer online directly from the brewery using craft beer marketplace The Beer Connect.