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Craft brew sales on the rise as more offbeat beer flavors hit Superbowl coolers

By By DAVE DELLECESE

MARCY, N.Y. (WKTV) - The beer business is booming despite the recession. And while you may be used to seeing the Superbowl standbys of Budweiser, Coors, Labatts, and others sitting on ice this Sunday, you might be surprised to see some more unusual brands and flavors in the cooler this Superbowl Sunday.

Specialty beers, some with such offbeat names like Flying Dog, Three Philosophers, Hen's Tooth, and Dogfish Head, are taking the beverage world by storm.

"Right now, the craft beer segment of the beer industry is what's moving,' said Ron Martel, co-owner of Marcy Discount Beverage. "Regular beer is still very good, but the craft beer segment is just something that's on the move right now."

On the move, and following a national trend - craft brewing industry sales have grown 36% across the country over the last 3 years, according to the Brewers Association.

"Craft beer sales are definitely up in 2008 for us," said Craig Martel, manager at Marcy Discount Beverage, and their specialist in craft beers. "They definitely drive a big part of our business now."

It's a $5.1 billion industry that's growing along with ever-changing tastebuds.

"People are trying different beers...they're a little pricier," said Ron Martel. "They're not buying the quantity compared to domestic beers. But they try it for the flavor...alcohol contents a little different...and some of it's just packaging."

"I think it's a change in their overall tastes," said Craig Martell. "I think that people just want to try different things. I mean, I've got beers here that are banana nut bread, ones that are 23% alcohol."

And with Superbowl Sunday just around the corner, it's a sure bet that the beer will be flowing, and flying off the shelves even faster.

"Superbowl is, in our business, it's like having a good Summer weekend," said Ron Martell. "It's something in January that we don't normally get. Superbowl comes around and it's a holiday in January."

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