The 10 largest craft breweries in the US 2020By Edith Hancock
US trade body the Brewers Association (BA) has released its annual list of the country’s biggest brewers based on volumes in 2019, while also revealing the biggest “craft” brewers.
The association classes any independent brewery that produces 6 million barrels of beer or less annually as a “craft” brewer.
“Although 2020 will be a markedly different year than 2019 for the craft brewing market, these companies are well positioned to help the craft category weather the current market uncertainty and rebound with the flavour, variety, and innovation that beer lovers have come to expect from small brewers,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association.
These are the largest “craft” brewers in the US, based on volumes last year.
10. Artisanal Brewing Ventures, Brooklyn, NY
Locations: New York, Pennsylvania
Artisanal positions itself as a platform that supports like-minded independent craft breweries in their growth ambitions.
ABV owns a number of internationally sold brands such as Sixpoint Brewery, Southern Tier and Victory Brewing. The company acquired US cider brand Bold Rock in November 2019.
9. Stone Brewing
Location(s): Escondido, CA
Stone Brewing produced a number of highly hopped beers in the early 90s, including Arrogant Bastard, and was among the first to encourage consumers away from so-called ‘big beer’ styles of lager.
It became the first in the US to open its own bar in Europe after closing a deal to renovate a former gasworks in Berlin in 2014. Stone’s a 100-hectolitre brewery, bottling line and taproom in Germany was then snapped up by Brewdog last May.
Commenting on the reasons for selling the site to Brewdog last year, co-founder and executive chairman of Stone Brewing, Greg Koch, said: “Ultimately the project turned out to be too big, too bold and too early in our growth curve in Europe. Sure, in hindsight maybe we should have started smaller, aimed for the treeline instead of the stars.”
Location(s): Longmont, CO; Tampa, FL; Salt Lake City, UT; Comstock, MI; Inglewood, CA; Dallas, TX
CANarchy was founded in 2015 with a focus on canned craft beers, and has grown quickly to make it into the top 10 for the second year running, having made its debut in 2017. Although it should be noted that the group is a co-operation of several breweries. which includes the Oskar Blues Brewery, Cigar City Brewing, the Perrin Brewing Company, Wasatch and Squatters breweries.
7. Bell’s Brewery Inc
Location(s): Comstock, MI
One of the oldest “modern” indie brewers in the US, Bell’s now ships to over 32 states.
It started out as a homebrew initiative, with founder Larry Bell using a 15-gallon soup kettle to produce its first beers.
Locations: Berkeley, CA; Portland, OR; Shiner, TX
The Gambrinus Company is a family-owned brewer headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. It is is best known in the US for selling Shiner Beers, all of which are brewed at the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas.
The company also used to operate BridgePort Brewery in Portland, Oregon, which ceased operations in February last year, and California’s Trumer Brewery, which is also twinned with Trumer Brauerei in Salzurg, Austria.
5. Duvel Moortgat
Location(s): Paso Robles, CA; Kansas City, MO; Cooperstown, NY
While Duvel is based in Belgium, it is sold in 60 countries, and has acquired a portfolio of brands worldwide, including three breweries in the US.
In 2003 it acquired Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York. In, 2013, it bought Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, Missouri.
4. New Belgium Brewing
Location(s): Fort Collins, CO; San Francisco, CA
New Belgium started out as a homebrew project in the early 90s, but has gone on to become a sought-after craft brewer for one of the world’s biggest drinks producers, and has collaborated with other household names such as Ben & Jerry’s.
Late last year, New Belgium was acquired by craft beverage division of Australian food and drink company Lion, itself owned by Japan’s Kirin.
Founded in Fort Collins in 1991, New Belgium has since expanded to Asheville, North Carolina, in 2016 and Denver, Colorado in 2018.
A statement noted that co-founder Kim Jordan would continue to be “deeply involved” with the brewer and will also have a “key advisory role” at the brewery despite the takeover.
3. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co
Location(s): Chico, CA
Like many of the breweries on this list, Sierra Nevada started as a homebrew project from founder Ken Grossman, who learned to home brew from the father of a close friend in the 1970s.
In 1976, he opened a home brew supply store in California named The Home Brew Shop, before founding the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in 1980.
As well as holding the title of America’s 3rd largest craft brewery, Sierra Nevada could arguably be credited with shaping the Scottish craft beer giant Brewdog. Brewdog’s co-founder James Watt has said that tasting Sierra Nevada’s flagship pale ale started his “awakening” to the craft beer scene in 2011. Today, it is one of the fastest growing companies in the UK, with a brewery and hotel in the US, and construction of a brewery in Australia under way.
2. Boston Beer Co
Location(s): Boston, MA
Boston Beer Co is perhaps best known for its Samuel Adams, which took over from Budweiser in 2018 as the official beer of the Boston Red Sox. The eight-year deal will last through the 2025 season and include signage and a Sam roof deck. The agreement also allows Boston Beer to use the Red Sox Logo for marketing purposes, run Red Sox related contests with tickets to games
The company was founded in 1984 by Jim Koch, upon discovering his great-great grandfather’s recipe for Louis Koch Lager, in his father’s attic, which evolved into Samuel Adams Boston Lager. The rest, as they say, is history.
Yuengling and Son Inc
Location(s): Pottsville, PA
Yuengling is well known as one of the oldest, and longest-running, independent breweries in the US.
In 2009 the brewery surpassed two million barrels, with Dick Yuengling – fifth generation – now heading up the business, alongside his four daughters.
Yuengling became eligible for “craft brewer” status in 2014 after the Brewers Association changed its definition of “adjunct grains”, such as corn, in early 2014 to be “traditional”, and therefore craft.
Last year, the brewer collaborated with confectionary giant Hershey’s – also founded in the same state – for the first time on a chocolate-flavoured porter infused with Hershey’s cocoa, syrup, and cacao nibs.