The Times They Are A-Changin: Top 50 craft breweries recap

 The Times They Are A-Changin', Bob Dylan, click on the link and listen to this song in the background while reading this post.

 I'm been looking at the to 50 craft breweries list for the last several years, just to see how it has evolved from the previous year.  As I followed the list in the aughts the one thing I have notice is the craft breweries are merging with each other, or  ̶s̶e̶l̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶o̶u̶t̶  "merging" with the multination-conglomerate, watered-down, cheap-beer, breweries.  So I have finally decided to give a recap of what has happened in the last few years with the big dogs of the craft beer industry.  If you want to compare them yourself, there will be links at the bottom of the blog.

The Craft Brewers Alliance recently published their list of the top 50 craft breweries of 2018. What is the definition of a craft beer, you might ask? Here it is, directly from the Brewers Association:

The official Brewers Association Craft Beer logo, if your beer has this it is officially craft
 “An American craft brewer is a small and independent brewer. Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer. Brewer: Has a TTB Brewer’s Notice and makes beer.”
Always remember: when in doubt, look for the certified independent seal.

If you have followed this list in the past, it has the usual craft beer icons listed at the top: Yuengling, Boston Brewing, Sierra Nevada, and New Belgium. Yuengling didn’t make this list until 2015, the year the Brewers Association increased the barrel production limit, allowing them to officially become a craft brewery.

Then you start seeing some names of “breweries” that have formed after the mergers of the last few years. Most of you are familiar with Duvel Moortgat, A.K.A. The guys that bought BLVD, but they also own Firestone Walker (peaked at #13 in 2015) and Ommegang. In 2016, Duvel acquired Firestone and jumped from #15 to #6.

At #6 on the list is Gambrinus. They make Shiner Bock, own Pete’s Brewery (Pete’s Wicked Ale was #42 in 2008), and own the recently closed Bridgeport Brewery.

The next corporation on this list is CANarchy: Deep Ellem, Oskar Blues, Cigar City, Perrin, Wasatch and Squatters.

#11 is Artisanal Brewing Ventures: Victory, Southern Tier, Six Point.

New to the list in 2017 and 2018 was Rhinegeist Brewing in Cincinnati. I had never heard of Rhinegeist, but they were founded in 2013. It is amazing that a brewery can crack the list five years after being founded. I compared the top 50 lists from 2012 to the present and the rankings stayed pretty similar, except as mergers happened the names changed.

Another beer I wasn’t familiar with was Troegs. They are a Pennsylvania brewery founded in 1996.

Schlafly, or the St. Louis Brewery, peaked at #39 in 2011, and fell off the list completely by 2013.

Two breweries you might notice are missing from this list are Founders and Avery, so All Day IPA and White Rascal are now replaced with Zon and Slightly Mighty at the Myces family reunion. They both have sold 30% stakes of their brewery to Mahou San-Miguel, a Spanish brewery.

The most impressive brewer on this list is New Glarus. They are the 16th biggest craft brewery in the United States, and ONLY sell their beer in Wisconsin. I know Wisconsin has a drinking reputation, but damn homie, that is absurd. I wish there was a study on how much money people spend on road trips just to get their beer. I know the Myces family has added to the Wisconsin economy for this purpose.

Yuengling first made the list in 2015 when the craft brewers alliance increased the limit for barrels produced to still be defined as craft, and has been #1 ever since.

Another surprising tidbit from this list is Gordon Biersch Brewing. I didn’t realize that they were also a distribution brewery that has a very strong West Coast presence.

KCBeerBlog fan favorite Tasting Nitch also does a good job recapping what is and is not craft on How she chooses her beer!

Casualties, i.e. the last year before going corporate are as follows:
2017: Avery was craft for a portion of the year but still managed #50
2016: 4 Peaks, Breckenridge, Lagunitas, Ballast Point, Anchor
2014: Founders

Links to the top 50 craft breweries list

Brett A. Myces

Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies

Rank Brewery Name City State
1 D. G. Yuengling & Son Inc. Pottsville PA
2 Boston Beer Co. Boston MA
3 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Chico CA.
4 New Belgium Brewing Co. Fort Collins, San Francisco CO, CA
5 Duvel Moortgat Paso Robles, Kansas City, Cooperstown CA, MO, NY
6 Gambrinus San Antonio, Berkeley, Portland TX, CA, OR
7 Bell’s Brewery Inc. Comstock MI
8 CANarchy Longmont, Tampa, Salt Lake City, Comstock, Inglewood, Dallas CO, FL, UT, MI, CA, TX
9 Stone Brewing Co. Escondido CA
10 Deschutes Brewery Bend OR
11 Artisanal Brewing Ventures Downingtown, Lakewood, Brooklyn PA, NY, NY
12 Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn NY
13 Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Milton DE
14 SweetWater Brewing Co. Atlanta GA
15 Minhas Craft Brewery Monroe WI
16 New Glarus Brewing Co. New Glarus WI
17 Matt Brewing Co. Utica NY
18 Harpoon Brewery Boston MA
19 Alaskan Brewing Co. Juneau AK
20 Great Lakes Brewing Co. Cleveland OH
21 Abita Brewing Co. Abita Springs LA
22 Stevens Point Brewery Stevens Point WI
23 Odell Brewing Co. Fort Collins CO
24 Summit Brewing Co. St. Paul MN
25 August Schell Brewing Co. New Ulm MN
26 21st Amendment Brewery Bay Area CA
27 Troëgs Brewing Co. Hershey PA
28 Rhinegeist Brewery Cincinnati OH
29 Shipyard Brewing Co. Portland ME
30 Allagash Brewing Co. Portland ME
31 Long Trail Brewing Co. Bridgewater Corners VT
32 Narragansett Brewing Co. Providence RI
33 Flying Dog Brewery Frederick MD
34 Surly Brewing Company Minneapolis MN
35 Ninkasi Brewing Co. Eugene OR
36 Rogue Ales Newport OR
37 Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. San Jose CA
38 Revolution Brewing Chicago IL
39 Three Floyds Brewing Co. Munster IN
40 Karl Strauss Brewing Co. San Diego CA
41 Georgetown Brewing Co. Seattle WA
42 Uinta Brewing Co. Salt Lake City UT
43 Wachusett Brewing Co. Westminster MA
44 Full Sail Brewing Co. Hood River OR
45 Modern Times Beer San Diego CA
46 North Coast Brewing Co. Fort Bragg CA
47 Lost Coast Brewery Eureka CA
48 Saint Arnold Brewing Co. Houston TX
49 Bear Republic Brewing Co. Cloverdale CA
50 Left Hand Brewing Company Longmont CO

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