The Brewers Association has released its annual list of the 50 biggest craft brewing companies in the U.S., and as ever it’s interesting to see some new breweries sneak into the mix. These numbers are of course reflective of the deeply damaging and challenging time that almost all breweries had in the pandemic-scarred year of 2020, which especially decimated the business of breweries that were heavily reliant on draft beer sales in bars, restaurants and in-person taprooms. Faring better were those breweries that were able to focus heavily on packaged beers sold on site, or from grocery/package stores, but it’s safe to say that the pandemic year posed a steep challenge to brewing companies big and small.
The top of the list is of course anchored by the old stalwarts—Yuengling, ever since the “craft brewer” definition was altered to make room for them, followed by Boston Beer Co. (not counting Truly, Twisted Tea, etc), Sierra Nevada and Duvel Moortgat, thanks to the latter’s ownership of Boulevard Brewing Co. and Firestone Walker.
Digging deeper, there are some interesting stories here, such as the continued rise of Cincinnati’s Rhinegeist, which has now taken the #25 spot despite being founded in only 2013. Also a weird sight to see is the name “Kings & Convicts” in the #30 hole, another reminder that one-time industry titan Ballast Point had been acquired in the strangest of ways.
Of all the “little” guys to no longer qualify as little, meanwhile, you have to note Athens, GA’s popular Creature Comforts now cracking the list at #48, reflecting their massive expansion of brewing capacity. Truly, they’ve been another amazing success story in the Georgia beer market, having been founded as recently as 2014.
It will be interesting to see if the list is shaken up substantially in 2021, as the fallout from the pandemic continues and other brewing companies attempt to fill the vacuum created by our new methods of drinking.
In the meantime, you can check out the full list of the 50 biggest U.S. craft brewing companies right here.