The Brewers Association, a non-profit organization that represents small and independent craft brewers, just released the long- awaited ranking of the Top 50 Craft Breweries in the United States, based on beer sales volume along with the ranking of the top overall breweries. The rankings reflect the movers and shakers in the brewing industry and provide some insight on consumer tastes, preferences, and trends.
Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association, says these pioneers of artisanal beer continue to influence and shape the industry in countless ways.
“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 Watson. “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.”
Comparing last year’s top 50 craft breweries to this year’s top 50 reveals a handful of changes in the rankings. Gone from the 2015 ranks are:
- Ballast Point
- Firestone Walker
- Southern Tier
- Four Peaks
Every one of the above breweries experienced a change in ownership, directly leading to the brewery’s elimination from the top 50. In place of the seven breweries above are the following newcomers:
- Artisanal Brewing Ventures
- Gordon Biersch
- Surly Brewing
- Sixpoint Brewery
- Avery Brewing
- Real Ale Brewing
- BJ’s Brewery
Among the newly ranked breweries, Gordon Biersch posted the highest debut, landing at number 34. Okay, I lied- Artisanal Brewing Ventures debuted at number 13, but since it is simply a partnership between Southern Tier and Victory, its high debut is misleading, as it isn’t a brand new or existing entity from last year. Thus, it is really Gordon Biersch that has earned bragging rights. And among the breweries ranked last year that are still in the top 50 this year, the highest gains in rankings were Duvel Moorgat (up 9 places), Allagash Brewing (up 7 places), and Troegs Brewing (up 7 places). Most of the gains from other breweries were achieved directly due to the elimination of the seven breweries mentioned above.
With the gainers, there are always going to be some losers and this year’s top 50 shows exactly two breweries that dropped a few notches. Minhas Craft brewery fell 3 places to number 12 and Left Hand brewing slipped 5 spots to number 44. The decline in ranking for Left Hand surprises me the most and makes me wonder how things are faring for the Longmont, Colorado brewery so beloved for its milk stout and other popular favorites.
The top 50 breweries overall reveals a few shifts and again, many are due to changes in ownership. Most notable is the fact that, among the top 50 overall, 40 out of the 50 are craft breweries.
So, enough of the chart beat- let’s get on with the rankings! Here are the Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies and the Top 50 Brewing Companies in the United States, based on 2016 sales data: