Stephanie Kennedy of McKinney, general manager at Ron's Place in Addison, draws a new craft beer, “Rogue Farms”, on Friday, October 1, 2015.

Stephanie Kennedy of McKinney, general manager at Ron's Place in Addison, draws a new craft beer, “Rogue Farms”, on Friday, October 1, 2015.

Stewart F. House/Special Contributor

Craft beer experienced a banner year in 2015, and if the astonishing number of new breweries that popped up in Dallas-Fort Worth didn't already convince you, a new report from the Brewers Association will.

According the trade group's stats, Americans spent $22.3 billion on craft beer in 2015, an increase of 16 percent over the previous year. That's a lot of dough -- enough to boost craft beer's market sales share to 12.2 percent.

Brewers Association

If that figure doesn't sound impressive, consider the fact market share hit double digits for the first time ever in 2014. And just five years ago, craft sales represented 5.7 percent of the market, meaning the industry has seen a 114 percent increase jump in sales since 2011. (No wonder big beer companies want a piece.)

So what's driving this growth? For one, there's more booze hitting store shelves and bar taps.

The Brewers Association reports craft breweries produced 24.5 million barrels of beer last year, up 13 percent compared to 2014. The number of breweries also rose substantially to more than 4,200 businesses, surpassing the historical high of 4,131 set in 1873. And like many local experts we've spoken with, Bart Watson, the Brewers Association's chief economist, sees no signs the industry will slow.

"For the past decade, craft brewers have charged into the market, seeing double digit growth for eight of those years," Watson said.

"There are still a lot of opportunities and areas for additional growth," he added. "An important focus will remain on quality as small and independent brewers continue to lead the local, full-flavored beer movement."

In North Texas, three new brewing operations -- Backcountry Brewery, Malai Kitchen (Southlake), Bishop Cider Co. -- have opened since the beginning of 2016, and at least another five are expected to by year's end. That means a lot of beer to look forward to.

Thirsty? Hit up one of the area's numerous beer festivals to try the local brews.

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