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Craft? Micro? Increasingly, 'Nanobrews' Slake Local Thirst

By David Sharp, The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine — The craft beer industry is getting bigger and smaller at the same time.

The number of small, local breweries is exploding even as large craft brewers like Boston Beer Co., Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Co. continue to grow.

In Portland, Maine, beer lovers line up several times a week to get fresh beer from Bissell Brothers, much like foodies seek the freshest baguettes, fruit or kale. Co-founder Peter Bissell says it's back to the future for the beer industry as local breweries serve local audiences with unique brews based on local ingredients and local tastes.

Colorado-based Brewers Association says 615 breweries opened last year, bringing the U.S. total to 3,418. That's a level approaching the peak of 4,131 breweries in 1873, before Prohibition.