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Americans Start to Like Beer Again

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After four years of declines, sales see a slight pickup as interest in craft brews and imports remains strong.

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Beer sales in the US are finally picking up again after four years of declines.

The 2012 increase in beer sales wasn't huge -- only about 1.4% -- but at least one worrisome trend for brewers appears to have reversed, reports the New York Post.

And while craft brews and imports appear to be responsible for much of the growth, even the biggest names in the business saw improvements as well. In fact, many brewers were able to raise prices last year, which helped them bring in more revenue, the Post reports.

A few other factors helped sales last year, including cheaper gas, plenty of leap-year partying, and a warm, dry winter in parts of the country, said Brian Sudano, the managing director of Beverage Marketing, according to the Post.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE:BUD) said its sales volumes grew in the US last year for the first time since 2008, according to the Los Angeles Times. But the company still expected weak returns for the current quarter due to less disposable income and bad weather.

The company hit a notable milestone late last year: For the first time, more Budweiser was sold overseas than within the US. Sales were especially strong in China, Budweiser's No. 2 market, the Times reports.

Coors Light saw its eighth year of volume growth in the US last year, but MillerCoors suffered some setbacks with its other brands. Miller Lite fell by low-single digits for the year, and sales to retailers of Miller64 dropped by high-single digits.

Although MillerCoors saw strong response to its Blue Moon and Jacob Leinenkugel brands, overall its domestic sales to retail fell by 1.3% last year. MillerCoors is a joint venture of SABMiller (PINK:SBMRY) and Molson Coors Brewing Co. (NYSE:TAP).

Editor's Note: This story by Kim Peterson was originally published on MSN moneyNOW.

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