The overall U.S. beer industry shrank by 1.3 percent last year, thanks to depressed sales for domestic brands, increased competition from wine and spirits, unemployment and a struggling economy, according to the Beverage Information Group's 2012 Beer Handbook.


The industry lost 35.6 million 2.25 gallon cases to end the year at 2.787 billion cases, the company said. A bit of good news? Craft and import beer categories are seeing increases that are expected to continue.


"We are looking to the craft segment to continue to spur growth in the beer industry," Adam Rogers, senior analyst for the Beverage Information Group in Norwalk, Conn., said in a prepared statement. "Consumer interest is at its peak and there is unlimited potential for growth as more craft brewers enter the marketplace."