Brewers Association's Annual Report Reveals Craft Beer's Biggest Brewers

Image: Brewers Association

The annual count by the Brewers Association (BA) of the top 50 craft and overall brewing companies in the US (based on beer sales volume) has been released. This time, it turns out that of the top 50 overall brewing companies, 40 were craft brewing companies.

The BA, the not-for-profit trade group representing small and independent craft brewers, reported that the top 10 craft brewers remained mostly unchanged. Leading continues to be D.G. Yuengling & Son, Pottsville, PA; Boston Beer Co., Boston, MA; Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA; New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO; Gambrinus, San Antonio; Duvel Moortgat (with breweries in Cooperstown, NY, Paso Robles, CA, and Kansas City); Bell’s Brewery, Comstock, MI; Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR; Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA; and Oskar Blues Brewing, Longmont, CO.

The most notable change was the rise of Duvel Moortgat, the company that now owns Boulevard Brewing, Firestone Walker, and Brewery Ommegang in the US. The brewer moved up 9 places into the 6th spot, supplanting Lagunitas Brewing, which is no longer considered a craft brewer by the BA after the company sold a 50% stake to Heineken in late 2015. Stone Brewing jumped one spot, up to number 9, as Wisconsin’s Minhas Craft Brewery fell to No. 12 on the list. Oskar Blues Holding Company also climbed four spots, clinching number 10.

(The BA defines a craft brewer as small, independent and traditional, with annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less; less than 25% of the craft brewery owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer; and a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation.)

“With such a broad range of brewers in today’s beer landscape, the leading small and independent producers have helped build the craft brewing industry to what it is today,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “Embracing their experience and ability to thrive and overcome challenges, the top producing craft brewers will continue to inspire, innovate and influence the future of beer.”

A number of large national and regional craft beer companies such as Dogfish Head (14), Sweetwater Brewing (15) and New Glarus (16), among others, also moved up the list, primarily as a result of the BA’s efforts to consolidate how it reports production for brewing groups like Duvel USA and Oskar Blues Holding Company. Also enabling other craft companies to move up the list was the absence of Ballast Point (sold to Constellation Brands in 2015 for $1 billion and no longer considered to be a craft brewer.)

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