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Nielsen is out with a new survey saying that "nearly 9 out of every 10 (88%) of U.S. beer drinkers say that it’s a great time to be a beer lover." And while overall beer sales are up in the single digits, certain categories - like craft beers and imported beers, are growing much more, up 14 percent and 10.7 percent respectively, during the past year.

The study says that much of this growth is being driven by beer drinkers ahed 30-39, with more of them saying "they enjoy trying new types of beer (85%, compared with 70% of all U.S. beer drinkers), and they are even more passionate fans of local beer (76% vs. 64%)."

As for craft beers, the study says, "Local beers are taking center stage. While 64% of overall beer drinkers say that they are fans of local beers, that figure jumps to 86% for craft beer drinkers. And in many local markets, it’s the locally produced brands that lead the way. In Seattle, for example, four of the top five craft beers are from that region."

Which may explain why major brewers are eying small, craft brewers as acquisition targets, reasoning that they need to own a piece of this faster growth curve.

Case in point: The Chicago Tribune reports that "Anheuser-Busch InBev has announced plans to buy Devils Backbone Brewing Co., the eighth craft brewery that the global beer behemoth has purchased during the past five years." Virginia-based Devils Backbone, the story notes, was "founded in 2008, has won 28 medals at the Great American Beer Festival and was named the nation’s midsize brewer of the year in 2014."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
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