The top 50 craft breweries in the USA

Washington’s brewing industry contributes roughly $1 billion to the state’s economy each year (read it). Still, none of the USA’s top 50 craft breweries (listed below) are based in Washington. Although Washington ranks second in the nation in terms of total number of breweries, and 8th in the nation in terms of breweries per capita, even the state’s largest craft breweries are too small to make the just-released list of the top 50 breweries.

Does this surprise you? Is there a reason why we foster smaller, locally focused breweries, but not bigger, nationally recognized breweries? Is bigger better? Portland is the only city on earth with more breweries than Seattle. Nobody except you and me knows this. Do you feel dissed? Do you care? I’m just curious if this impacts the self esteem of Washington’s beer aficionados.

The 50 Top Breweries

The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade group representing small and independent craft brewers—today released its annual lists of the top 50 craft brewing companies in the U.S., based on beer sales volume. It also released its list of the top 50 overall breweries, which includes the likes of Anheuser-Busch, Miller-Coors, and the other huge beer manufacturers. Of the top 50 overall brewing companies in the USA, 42 were craft brewing companies*. In other words, 84 percent of the largest breweries in the USA are craft breweries.

“The companies on this list include the vanguard of the craft industry,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “They are exposing new beer lovers to craft, opening new markets and creating opportunities for the entire category. As they continue to grow, so will the availability of innovative and high-quality beers produced for all to enjoy.”

Rank   Brewery   STATE
1. D. G. Yuengling and Son, Inc. PA
2. Boston Beer Co. MA
3. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. CA
4. New Belgium Brewing Co. CO
5. Gambrinus. TX
6. Lagunitas Brewing Co. CA
7. Bell’s Brewery, Inc. MI
8. Deschutes Brewery. OR
9. Stone Brewing Co. CA
10. Minhas Craft Brewery. WI
11. Brooklyn Brewery. NY
12. Duvel Moortgat USA. MO/NY  (Boulevard, Ommegang)
13. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. DE
14. Matt Brewing Co. NY
15. Harpoon Brewery. MA
16. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. CA
17. Founders Brewing Co. MI
18. SweetWater Brewing Co. GA
19. New Glarus Brewing Co. WI
20. Alaskan Brewing Co. AK
21. Abita Brewing Co. LA
22. Anchor Brewing Co. CA
23. Great Lakes Brewing Co. OH
24. Oskar Blues Brewery. CO
25. Shipyard Brewing Co. ME
26. Stevens Point Brewery Co. WI
27. August Schell Brewing Co. MN
28. Summit Brewing Co. MN
29. Victory Brewing Co. PA
30. Long Trail Brewing Co. VT
31. Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits. CA
32. Rogue Ales Brewery & Headquarters. OR
33. Full Sail Brewing Co. OR
34. Odell Brewing Co. CO
35. Southern Tier Brewing Co. NY
36. Ninkasi Brewing Co. OR
37. Flying Dog Brewery. MD
38. Uinta Brewing Co. UT
39. Bear Republic Brewing Co. CA
40. Left Hand Brewing Company. CO
41. 21st Amendment Brewery Cafe. CA
42. Allagash Brewing Co. ME
43. Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe. CA
44. Troegs Brewing Co. PA
45. Karl Strauss Brewing Co. CA
46. Saint Arnold Brewing Co. TX
47. Narragansett Brewing Co. RI
48. Green Flash Brewing Co. CA
49. Craftworks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc. TN/CO
50. Breckenridge Brewery. CO

* Craft brewery definition: An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional. 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. Traditional: A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

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  1. Does BA give criteria for making their list? Most populous California has 10 of the 50. About 20 states have breweries on the BA list, 30 do not. Breweries unknown to me, such as #38, Uinta Brewing from Utah?

  2. You posted last year about the top 50 having no WA breweries and I think there were some enlightening comments about WA breweries being community supported, and happy to supply their communities rather than try to dominate national/international distribution.

    Last year, that #50 spot was probably around 60,000 barrels. This year it might be more like 70,000. A few years ago it might have been under 50,000. The entire industry is growing and the “bar” keeps rising as barrelage is concerned for those top 50. But 50 as a percentage of the total number of craft breweries is shrinking rapidly.

    Which is my opinion stronger about, that WA still doesn’t have a brewery in that top 50 list? Or that it’s growing by nearly 50 breweries every year?

    That can be a tough decision. I do think a lot more attention goes to larger and faster growing breweries from other states. But ultimately I think WA makes a hell of a lot of good beers and if they’re not in the top 50, it’s not because they’re not good beers, it’s because the brewery owners here are more focused on their communities than on taking over the country/world.

  3. San Diego metropolitan area now has 101 breweries. To my knowledge that is more than Portland by a good amount. They also have 4 breweries on this list.

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