Ranking the New Top 50 Craft Brewers

Dear Client:

It’s that time of year: The Brewers Association has just released the 2018 Top 50 U.S. Craft Brewing Companies. That’s the yearly ranking of BA-defined craft brewers, by volume. So it’s an index of who is gaining (and losing) volume at a faster rate than their peers.
Let’s tally the latest score: The top 10 lineup is mostly unchanged from last year, with all the regular players. But CANarchy, having made a couple of investments in brewers last summer (Los Angeles County’s Three Weavers and Dallas-based Deep Ellum), overtakes Stone for the no. 8 spot.

Indeed, craft consortiums have been adding to their ranks, and subsequently climbing up the list. To wit, Artisanal Brewing Ventures, which recently announced it would add Brooklyn’s Sixpoint into its consortium with Victory and Southern Tier, also jumped a couple spots, to No. 11.

Beyond the top, there are a few swaps among the top 25 lineup, but nothing major. We do note that despite Summit’s tough start to 2018 — recall, the brewer slashed 10% of its workforce going into the year — it jumped a spot, to 24 from 25.

THE BACK HALF IS WHERE THE ACTION IS. After that first half of the list, you really start to notice the regional brewers, with fiery momentum, and many older brands that have started to slip.
First, the climbers: Cincy’s Rhinegeist jumped an impressive five spots last year, from 33 to 28 in ’18. Hershey, Pennsylvania-based Troegs climbed from 30 to 27.

Bucking the trend of establish brands’ slippage, 24-year-old Portland stalwart Allagash jumped a few spots, from 36 to 30. (That’s largely on the back of Allagash White trends: they announced cans last year but they’re not rolling into markets until now.)

Surly went from 39 to 34, which is especially impressive considering they’re in less than 10 states. Do recall, though, that they snagged longtime Sierra Nevada vet, Bill Manley, to be their new director of brand development.

And despite having to pull out of Texas for lack of demand, and losing its CEO and CFO last year, Oregon’s Ninkasi jumped from 38 to 35.

Munster, Indiana’s Three Floyds made an impressive climb, from 45 to 39.

As for the slippers, many of them are at least 20 years old:

Rogue tumbled a few, from 32 to 36.

Flying Dog did a flip flop of Rhinegeist’s results, falling from 28 in ’17 to 33 last year.

Utah-based brand Unita fell from 37 to 42.

Longtime California brewer Bear Republic fell from 42 to 49.
Colorado-based Left Hand fell from 44 to 5o.

But the biggest drop on the list that we noticed was Full Sail, which dropped from 29 last year, all the way to 44.

Still, not every 20-something brewer fell: Mass-based Wachusett Brewing, formed in the mid-90s, jumped from 49 to 43. (Last year’s 43, Green Flash, is no longer on the top 50 list.)

NEWCOMERS HAIL FROM THE WEST COAST. San Diego brewer Modern Times (which notably has a chain of brewery taprooms across California and even Portland) hit the list for the first time, at number 45, despite only distributing to a handful of states along the West Coast.

And Seattle’s Georgetown Brewing Co. hit the list for the first time at no. 41, impressively. This is a 16-year-old brand that changed over from draft-only to cans back in 2017.


Deep Ellum Brewing Company is hitting its first market outside of Texas. The Dallas area brewer, and one of the latest craft breweries to join the CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective, will roll up north and take its beers across the Red River into Oklahoma this month. There, Deep Ellum will team up with Capital Distributing and LDF to bring its “core beer offerings” in 6-packs of 12-oz cans and on draft. The entrance into the Sooner State “coincides with the opening of the Deep Ellum Funkytown Fermatorium in Fort Worth, Texas, which offers wood-fired pizzas and small-batch brews with an emphasis on collaboration and experimentation,” per company release.

Until tomorrow,

Jenn, Jordan, and Harry

“Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.” – Jane Wagner

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