Food & Beverage

The 10 Biggest US Craft Breweries

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The Biggest US Craft Breweries

Accounting for $7 billion in the US beer market, craft breweries have seen a surge in sales during the recession, compared to the overall beer industry. Craft breweries, defined as those that produce less than 2 million barrels of beer annually, are becoming an increasingly important part of the US beer industry, quickly gaining ground on big producers like Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors. But in the world of craft breweries, who is king? According to the craft breweries sold approximately
Photo: Altrendo | Getty Images

Accounting for $7 billion in the US beer market, craft breweries have seen a surge in sales during the recession, compared to the overall beer industry.

Craft breweries, defined as those that produce less than 2 million barrels of beer annually, are becoming an increasingly important part of the US beer industry, quickly gaining ground on global producers like Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors. But in the world of craft breweries, who is king?

According to the Brewers Association,craft breweries as a group sold approximately 9.12 million barrels of beer in 2009, compared to just over 8.5 million in 2008. The 10 largest US craft breweries account over 4.5 million barrels annually, according to the association’s annual rankings by volume. However, even some of the largest craft breweries have distribution limited only a handful of US states and are only widely available in certain regions.

With craft breweries taking off in production, it pays to know which brewers are making the most beer. Click ahead for the largest craft breweries in the US by production volume. Figures are for 2009.

By Paul ToscanoPosted 17 Sept 2010

10. Harpoon Brewery

Annual sales: 130,516 barrels Share of segment: 1.43% Change in share: +0.05% Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, Harpoon Brewery is known best for its India Pale Ale, but also has a range of beers, including their award winning Munich Dark, 1636 brew and four seasonal beers. In 2000, Harpoon also acquired a Catamount Brewery plant in Windsor, Vermont, which increased the brewery’s capacity by 55,000 barrels per year. Harpoon is also a staple in Boston culture, hosting three annual festivals
Photo: Aaron Gustafson

Annual sales: 130,516 barrels
Share of segment: 1.43%
Change in share: +0.05%

Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, Harpoon Brewery is known best for its India Pale Ale, but also has a range of beers, including award-winning Munich Dark, 1636 brew and four seasonal beers. In 2000, Harpoon also acquired a Catamount Brewery plant in Windsor, Vermont, which increased the brewery’s capacity by 55,000 barrels per year.

Harpoon is also a staple in Boston culture, hosting three annual festivals - St Patricks Day, Summer BBQ and Octoberfest - which draw large crowds to the brewery. Harpoon also used to produce non-alcoholic beverages, such as root beer and creme soda, but ceased production to focus on its main staple, beer.

9. Boulevard Brewing Co.

Annual sales: 138,954 barrels Share of segment: 1.52% Change in share: -0.10% A regional brewery located in Kansas City, Missouri, when Anheuser-Busch was sold to InBev, Boulevard became the largest independent American brewery in Missouri. Their beers are primarily available in 20 states across the Midwest and Great Plains. Boulevard has recently completed an expansion of their brewing facility that gives them the capacity to produce up to 700,000 barrels per year, and they are actively looking
Photo: Boulevard.com

Annual sales: 138,954 barrels
Share of segment: 1.52%
Change in share: -0.10%

Boulevard is a regional brewery located in Kansas City, Missouri. When Anheuser-Busch was sold to InBev, Boulevard became the largest independent American brewery in Missouri. Their beers are primarily available in 20 states across the Midwest and Great Plains.

Boulevard has recently completed an expansion of their brewing facility that gives them the capacity to produce up to 700,000 barrels per year, and they are actively looking to expand their market share.

8. Magic Hat Brewing Co.

Annual sales: 154,236 barrels Share of segment: 1.69% Change in share: +0.20% Located in South Burlington, Vermont, Magic Hat brews four year-round beers and four seasonal beers, with “#9” as its flagship beverage. In August, Magic Hat was acquired by Rochester-based North American Breweries Inc, along with several other microbreweries.
Photo: MagicHat.net

Annual sales: 154,236 barrels
Share of segment: 1.69%
Change in share: +0.20%

Located in South Burlington, Vermont, Magic Hat brews four year-round beers and four seasonal beers, with “#9” as its flagship beverage. In August, Magic Hat was acquired by Rochester-based North American Breweries Inc, along with several other brewers.

7. Matt Brewing Co.

Annual sales: 171,700 barrels Share of segment: 1.88% Change in share: -0.02% The brewers of Saranac Beers, the Matt Brewing company is the 3rd largest microbrewery in the US. Located in Utica, New York, it is a family-owned brewery that also produces soft drinks and is primarily available on the East Coast.
Photo: Brian Boucheron

Annual sales: 171,700 barrels
Share of segment: 1.88%
Change in share: -0.02%

The brewers of Saranac Beers, the Matt Brewing Co. is the third largest craft brewery in the US. Located in Utica, New York, it is a family-owned brewery that also produces soft drinks and is primarily available on the East Coast.

6. Deschutes Brewery

Annual sales: 186,783 barrels Share of segment: 2.05% Change in share: -0.07% Located in Bend, Oregon, Deschutes Brewery produces a range of beers, including Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale as well as a specialty brew called The Abyss, which is an imperial stout with 11% alcohol by volume. Aged in bourbon barrels, “The Abyss” has won numerous awards since its 2007 release and and is considered to be one of the finest beers in the country.
Photo: DeschutesBrewery.com

Annual sales: 186,783 barrels
Share of segment: 2.05%
Change in share: -0.07%

Located in Bend, Oregon, Deschutes Brewery produces a range of beers, including Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale as well as a specialty brew called The Abyss, which is an imperial stout with 11% alcohol by volume. Aged in bourbon barrels, “The Abyss” has won numerous awards since its 2007 release and and is considered to be one of the finest beers in the country.

5. Pyramid Breweries Inc

Annual sales: 192,199 barrels Share of segment: 2.11% Change in share: -0.34% Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Pyramid Breweries acquired by North American Breweries Inc in August, along with Magic Hat. With its introduction of Apricot Ale in 1994, Pyramid has been known as a leader in the fruit beer category. They operate several ale houses and restaurants in Washington, Oregon and California.
Photo: PyramidBrew.com

Annual sales: 192,199 barrels
Share of segment: 2.11%
Change in share: -0.34%

Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Pyramid Breweries was acquired by North American Breweries Inc. in August, along with Magic Hat. With its introduction of Apricot Ale in 1994, Pyramid has been known as a leader in the fruit beer category. They operate several ale houses and restaurants in Washington, Oregon and California.

4. Spoetzl Brewery

Annual sales: 409,000 barrels Share of segment: 4.49%Change in share: -0.14% Also known as the “little brewery in Shiner”, Spoetzl hails from Shiner, Texas. Founded back in 1909, Spoetzl is also the oldest brewery in Texas and is distributed in 41 states. Spoetzl’s flagship beer is the Shiner Bock, which has been brewed since 1913 and contains 4.4% alcohol by volume.
Photo: Adam T. Baker

Annual sales: 409,000 barrels
Share of segment: 4.49%
Change in share: -0.14%

Also known as the “little brewery in Shiner”, Spoetzl hails from Shiner, Texas. Founded back in 1909, Spoetzl is also the oldest brewery in Texas and is distributed in 41 states. Spoetzl’s flagship beer is the Shiner Bock, which has been brewed since 1913 and contains 4.4% alcohol by volume.

3. New Belgium Brewing Co.

Annual sales: 583,160 barrels Share of segment: 6.40% Change in share: +0.60% The third largest craft brewery in the country is the New Belgium Brewing Company, located in Fort Collins, Colorado. Founded in 1991, the brewery began when Jeff Lebesch decided to take his passion for home brewing to a commercial level. Fat Tire, the company’s flagship beer, originated from a bicycle trip Lebesch took through Belgium from brewery to brewery, and the icon of a bicycle is also displayed in company logo
Photo: Michael Fajardo

Annual sales: 583,160 barrels
Share of segment: 6.40%
Change in share: +0.60%

The third largest craft brewery in the country is the New Belgium Brewing Co., located in Fort Collins, Colorado. Founded in 1991, the brewery began when Jeff Lebesch decided to take his passion for home brewing to a commercial level.

Fat Tire, the company’s flagship beer, originated from a bicycle trip Lebesch took through Belgium from brewery to brewery, and the icon of a bicycle is also displayed in company logos and labels. The company’s beers are distributed in 19 different US states.

2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Annual sales: 723,880 barrels Share of segment: 7.94% Change in share: +0.06% Established in 1980 by Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi, Sierra Nevada is the second-largest craft brewery in America and is located in Chico, California. Producing over 723,000 barrels of beer annually, the most popular brew is the company’s pale ale, although the company has a wide range of seasonal brews, porters, stouts and special releases.
Photo: Edwin Bautista

Annual sales: 723,880 barrels
Share of segment: 7.94%
Change in share: +0.06%

Established in 1980 by Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi, Sierra Nevada is the second-largest craft brewery in America and is located in Chico, California. Producing over 723,000 barrels of beer annually, the most popular brew is the company’s pale ale, although the company has a wide range of seasonal brews, porters, stouts and special releases.

1. Boston Beer Co.

Annual sales: 1,841,348 barrels Share of segment: 20.20% Change in share: -1.21% The largest microbrewery in the country is the Boston Beer Company, known best for its Samuel Adams brand, they produce a wide range and diversity of beer. Although the most popular brew is their Boston Lager, the company is also popular for their seasonals and specialty beers, such as the high priced Utopias, which contains 27% alcohol by volume and is aged over 16 years. Following the acquisition of Anheuser-Busch
Photo: Don LaVange

Annual sales: 1,841,348 barrels
Share of segment: 20.20%
Change in share: -1.21%

The largest craft brewery in the country is the Boston Beer Company, headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Known best for their Samuel Adams brand, the brewery also produces a wide range and diversity of beer. Although the most popular brew is their Boston Lager, the company is also popular for their seasonals and specialty beers, such as the high priced Utopias, which contains 27% alcohol by volume and is aged over 16 years.

Following the acquisition of Anheuser-Busch by InBev, the Boston Beer Company is the largest American-owned brewery, producing over 1.8 million barrels annually. The company was founded by Jim Koch, who based the original recipe on his ancestor's pre-prohibition formula.