The Beer Institute released new data showing that the value of beer sales in restaurants rose more than 9 percent in 2011, totaling about $23.6 billion in sales.

With restaurants responsible for nearly 24 percent of total beer sales in 2011, they represented the largest share of on-premise sales last year. Beer retail sales in restaurants jumped from $21.6 billion in 2010 to nearly $23.6 billion in 2011.

"Restaurants are having an enormous impact in introducing the many great brands of beer to consumers," said Joe McClain, president of the Beer Institute. "Restaurant patrons are trying new brands and styles on draft and bringing that new brand loyalty to off-premise retail channels. The boost in restaurant beer sales shows there is a beer for every palate."

The boost in restaurant beer sales coincides with a period of growth in the restaurant industry. The National Restaurant Association recently released its Restaurant Industry Forecast in which it projects total industry sales of $631.8 billion for 2012, up 3.5 percent from 2011.

The NRA expects 10,000 new eating and drinking establishments to open this year, bringing the industry total to 970,000 locations.

Overall, beer sales rose more than 2 percent in 2011, surpassing $98 billion in total retail sales. According to market research company Nielsen, the increase in sales revenue can be attributed to the high-end beer business. The sale of imports, crafts and above-premium beers sold off-premise was up nearly 3 percent.

Read more about food and beverage sales.

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