"The number of craft brewers in on-premise grew by nearly 17 percent in 2012 compared to 2011, and continued to grow at that clip during the first quarter of 2013 versus year ago," said Bill Pecoriello, CEO of GuestMetrics.
"Similarly, the number of craft beer brands sold in on-premise grew about 22% in 2012 and continued at that growth pace during Q1 2013 compared to the prior year," he said. "Given craft beers sold in on-premise grew high single digits during 2012 and mid-single digits during the first quarter of this year, the expansion of the number of craft brewers and brands significantly outpaced the underlying volume growth of the segment.
"While we don't necessarily see a shake-out in the near term, looking out at the next three to five years, the question will be the sustainability of the economics of a lot of the new entrants given the declining volume per available brand," Pecoriello said. "We will likely see consolidation within the segment."
GuestMetrics data also show a rise in the average number of brands being sold per craft brewer.
"In 2011, each craft brewer sold on average almost 3.6 brands, and by 2012, that had increased about 4 percent to around 3.75 brands" said Brian Barrett, president of GuestMetrics. "Looking at the 22 percent expansion in craft brands being sold in on-premise, approximately three-quarters of that is due to a larger number of craft brewers and about one-quarter to a larger number of brands being sold per craft brewer, which is also putting pressure on the sustainability, particularly for the newer entrants in the segment."
Lagunitas Fusion: Lagunitas Brewing Company has announced it will be working with distributors and retailers from all six of its current distribution regions to create a series of new beers under its Fusion line. Four distributors have been picked to be the first to participate in the process. Two others will be added and the distributors will select the retailers involved.
Karen Hamilton, who handles national marketing at Lagunitas, tells CNBC the group will be heading to the Petaluma,CA based brewery in July to work with Head Brewer Jeremy Marshall to discuss what kind of beer they want to brew. The group will work with Marshall to create the recipe, select the ingredients and work together in the brewing process. The yet to be determined beer will be unveiled in late August or Early September and be exclusive to the distributor in each region.
Hamilton says working with distributors on a Fusion beer is something the brewery hopes to do "each month or so" for the next 12 months. Lagunitas will continue selecting six more distributors (and retailers) from its six regions and doing other, different beers with them. Here are the four distributors chosen so far for the first go around: Lee Distributors in South Carolina, Gate City Beverage Distributor in San Bernadino, Franklin Distributors in Connecticut, Central States Distribution in Kansas/Missouri.
—By CNBC's Tom Rotunno. Follow him on Twitter @TomRotunno.