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Top 10 US craft breweries

The US is a beer-loving nation and craft beers are a huge and growing market.

In 2011 sales figures show that beer sales in the US surpassed the sales of wine and spirits combined. The craft beer market in the US has grown over the last 15 years, from 1% of the overall beer to almost 6% in 2011.

According to the Brewers’ Association craft brewers sold an estimated 11,468,152 barrels in 2011 with a retail value of around US$8.7billion.

Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association said: “We attribute a large part of that growth to the many talented brewers who are providing beer lovers with more beer style and flavour choices than ever before.”

The association also reported record exports of US craft beer in 2011; over 110,000 barrels were exported, worth an estimated US£23.4m. This is an increase of 86% by volume and 97% by dollars on 2010 exports.

At present of the 2,000 breweries in the US 97% are small and independent and here is a look at the top 10 by sales in 2011.

Let us know your top US craft beers in addition to those listed here by leaving a message below.

10. Boulevard Brewing Company

After starting in 1989 Boulevard is now the largest craft brewer in America’s Midwest. An expansion in 2006 saw the brewery’s capacity increase to 600,000 barrels and its beer is distributed to 21 states. Boulevard brews eight year-round beers including an IPA, pale ale and an unfiltered wheat beer.

9. Lagunitas Brewing Company

Lagunitas was founded in California in 1993 by Tony Magee and is thought to be one of the fastest growing craft breweries in the US. In 2004 it produced 27,000 barrels and a current expansion will see that increase to 600,000 by the middle of next year. An IPA, pils and stout are part of its year-round catalogue and Lagunitas also produces a wide range of seasonal and speciality beers.

8. Harpoon Brewery

In 1986 Rich Doyle and Dan Kenary decided to turn their passion for drinking beer into a passion for brewing beer. Now the brewery is well known for its Harpoon IPA and for producing seasonal beers for special events. Harpoon produces a pumpkin ale and a pumpkin cider as well as Celtic ale for St Patrick’s Day, Octoberfest beer and a cranberry ale for Thanksgiving.

7. Bell’s Brewery

In 1983 Larry Bell began homebrewing and in 1985 he sold his first beer. The following year Bell sold 135 barrels and now Bells Brewery has a capacity of more than 500,000 barrels and employs nearly 200 people. Bell’s Brewery produces eight year-round beers including an amber ale, lager beer, pale ale and a stout; as with many other craft brewers Bell’s also produces a wide range of specialist brews.

6. Matt Brewing Company

The Matt Brewing Company, which has been brewing beer since 1853, claims to be the second oldest family-owned brewery in the US. Matt Brewing produces five core beers including a white IPA, pale ale and IPA. Currently its seasonal beers include a pumpkin ale, Octoberfest and caramel porter.

5. Deschutes Brewery

In 1988 the Deschutes Brewery started as a small brew pub in Bend, Oregon; it is now the fifth-largest craft brewery in the US. Deschutes produces six year-round beers plus a large selection of seasonal and special brews and is currently available in 18 US states.

4. The Spoetzl Brewery

Spoetzl was founded in 1909 and is the oldest brewery in Texas. The brewery produces a range of beers, of which the Shiner Bock – a Bavarian-style beer – is the most popular. Spoetzl is now owned by the Grambrinus Company, as family-run business based in San Antonio.

3. New Belgium Brewing Company

New Belgium Brewing Company was founded in 1991 and is already the third largest craft brewery in the US. Located in Fort Collins, Colorado, the company’s beers are distributed to 19 US states and its best-selling beer is known as Fat Tire.

2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was started in 1979 by Ken Grossman, who is still involved in every aspect of the brewing operation. The brewery produces five beers all year round including a pale ale, porter and a stout and also produces a range of seasonal, speciality and limited edition beers.

1. Boston Beer Company

The largest craft brewery in the US is the Boston Beer Company, which is best known for its Samuel Adams brand. The brewery also produces a variety of other beers especially seasonal and speciality beers; the Boston Lager is the brewery’s most successful beer.

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