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Stats show Minnesota now ranks 10th in craft brew production

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Craft breweries seem to be popping up around the metro like so many rabbits, and some numbers underscore this belief: In 2012, Minnesota craft brew production jumped 80 percent over the previous year.

So says the Pioneer Press, which takes a numbers-based look at the industry that some experts say puts Minnesota in the top 10 nationally. The paper estimates that there are roughly 50 craft breweries around the state.

The paper's own analysis puts August Schell and Summit breweries at the top in the state, with Schell cranking out 131,000 barrels in 2012, and Summit weighing in with 112,000.

Nationally, the PiPress story relies on stats from the Brewers Association. Minnesota brewers produced 308,000 barrels total last year, the paper says, behind No. 9 Wisconsin's 398,000.

(Don't worry, Cheeseheads, we're sure you'll make it to the top someday. We have complete faith in your ability to produce and consume beer.)

Miller and Anheuser-Busch run about 80 percent of the market, not surprisingly, but there are now 2,300 cvraft brweries nationwide, the most since the 1880s,

Minnesota has a craft brewery for every 112,000 residents and a craft beer market share estimated at about 10 percent, the prez of the Minnesota Brewer's Guild tells the paper. Bend, Ore., on the other hand, has a craft brewery for every 9,000 residents.

Number 1? Vermont. Called "the Disneyland of beer" by one observer, the state has a local brew house for every 25,000 residents, but production there fell off in 2012.

Indeed, some are already warning that Minnesota craft consumers may be headed toward last call, with a market saturation a consideration.

Another disheartening notion from another industry insider: "It's only a matter of time before some of our breweries get gobbled up by one of the big brewers."

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