02/29/2012 03:51 pm ET

Restaurant Beer Sales Rose 9 Percent Last Year

The amount of beer sold in restaurants grew a remarkable nine percent in 2011, according to a report this week from the Beer Institute. That's a far bigger increase than was felt by the broader American beer industry, which saw growth of just percent percent last year.

Beer sales in restaurants totalled $23.6 billion, just shy of a quarter of the entire industry's revenue. By any measure, that's a lot -- though it constitutes a relatively small part of restaurants' total revenue, which is expected to pass $630 billion in 2012.

On the other hand, beer may be a disproportionately large source of restaurant profits. A single keg of draft beer, sold at typical restaurant markup prices, can provide hundreds of dollars in profits, as much as dozens of orders of any food on the menu. That may be a big part of the reason several major fast food chains are dipping their toes into the market -- which will only, in the long run, help boost the growth of beer sales in restaurants.