Beer, Wine & Spirits

Yuengling tops Boston Beer as largest craft brewer

The impact of the Brewers Association decision to adjust how they define a "craft brewery" continues to have ripple effects across the beer industry. The latest evidence comes from the Brewers Association's annual list of top 50 craft brewers based on 2014 beer sales volume.

D.G. Yuengling & Son now sits atop the list of the largest craft brewers by sales volume, supplanting Boston Beer.

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While the Brewers Association did not include 2014 sales volumes with its list, it's worth noting that the group's calculations only consider beer volume, so Boston Beer brands such as Twisted Tea and other flavored malt beverages are not included, while its Sam Adams beer is.

Cans of lager are filled at the Yuengling brewery in Pottsville, Pa.
Mike Mergen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Yuengling with its more than 2.7 million barrels was previously not considered "craft" by the Brewers Association because of its use of adjuncts like corn and rice in the brewing process.

In early 2014, the Brewers Association said it would change its definition and remove that restriction, paving the way for brewers like Yuengling, August Schell Brewing, Minhas Craft Brewery and others to now fall under the craft banner.

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Based on that rule change, Monroe, Wisconsin-based Minhas is now in the Brewers Association top 10 for the first time, coming in at No. 10. In addition to its own Boxer Lager, Mountain Crest and Lazy Mutt brands, Minhas produces beer on a contract basis for a number of other brands.

The new players on the top 10 list are the latest impact to be seen from Brewers Association's new "craft" definition. Earlier this month, the group said that craft beer under its definition reached 11 percent volume share in 2014, marking the first time they've reached a double-digit share of the marketplace. The Brewers Association goal of hitting a 20 percent share of marketplace volume by 2020 was widely considered as a factor in the definition change, which allowed previously banned brewers such as Yuengling into the fold.

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Other notable moves in the 2014 craft beer list include a jump from 50th to 41st by San Francisco's 21st Amendment Brewery and the previously banned Minnesota-based August Schell Brewing placing 27th on the list.

Here's the top 10 U.S. craft brewers by 2014 beer sales volume. (The full list of 50 is here.)

  1. D.G. Yuengling and Son, Pottsville, Pennsylvania
  2. Boston Beer, Boston
  3. Sierra Nevada Brewing, Chico, California
  4. New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colorado
  5. Gambrinus, Shiner, Texas
  6. Lagunitas Brewing, Petaluma, California
  7. Bell's Brewery, Galesburg, Michigan
  8. Deshutes Brewery, Bend, Oregon
  9. Stone Brewing, Escondido, California
  10. Minhas Craft Brewery, Monroe, Wisconsin