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Craft beer sales are still growing, but at a slower pace

Russian River Brewing Company bartender pours a glass of the newly released Pliny the Younger triple IPA beer in Santa Rosa, California.
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Russian River Brewing Company bartender pours a glass of the newly released Pliny the Younger triple IPA beer in Santa Rosa, California.

The Brewers Association released Tuesday its mid-year update on the craft beer business and while craft remains one of the bright spots in the U.S. beer business, the double-digit momentum from previous years is gone.

The Brewers Association reported a production volume increase of 8 percent for the first half of 2016, down from the 16 percent reported for the same period last year, and the 18 percent gain reported for the first half of 2014. For the year-end 2015, the group reported a 13 percent rise in volume.

"While the craft brewing industry is entering a period of maturation, most markets are not near saturation," said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association in a release. "As craft's base gets larger, as with any industry, it becomes more difficult for it to grow at the same percentage rate."

One area still running a breakneck pace: the number of breweries operating in the United States. The Brewers Association reports a record number of 4,656 breweries in operation as of June 30, an increase of 387 over the end of 2015, and 917 more than this time last year. Another 2,200 breweries are in planning.