List of Top Craft Brewers Sees Some Major Shake-ups

By Mike Pomranz |
FWX BREWERS ASSOCIATION BEST 50 BEERS

© Anton Gorbov / Alamy

This week, the Brewers Association—probably the biggest voice behind everything craft beer—released their list of the Top 50 US Craft Brewing Companies. The list, which is based on annual beer sales volume, saw some interesting shake-ups.

For the first time, craft beer lovers will notice Yuengling has landed at the top of the list. The Pennsylvania brewery’s new spot at the top—pushing perennial craft beer king Boston Beer Company (makers of Sam Adams) to No. 2—isn’t due to any major change in volume: Yuengling has always outproduced Sam Adams. Instead, it’s due to some relatively subtle tweaks in the way the Brewers Association defines a “craft brewery,” which allowed Yuengling, as well as a few other breweries, into the club. The other newbie to craft brewing’s top 10 is Wisconsin’s Minhas, which was also added to the list this year for the first time for the same reason.

One of the biggest actual movers on the list was Founders Brewing Company, which jumped from No. 26 to No. 17, with the brand’s All Day IPA becoming one of the most ubiquitous canned and draft beers of last year.

So, outside of the breweries that benefited from a change in the definition of “craft,” who are the real newcomers? Hershey, Pennsylvania's Tröegs Brewing, a craft beer mainstay founded in 1996, has returned to the list after a one-year absence. San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing—the brand that literally owns the name West Coast IPA (an amazingly delicious beer at that)—hit the list for the first time, debuting at No. 48. With Green Flash planning to join the growing list of West Coast breweries opening East Coast outposts (Green Flash’s is scheduled to open in 2016), look for them to boost production and possibly shoot up the list over the next few years.

And who saw the biggest drop? Well, Maine’s Shipyard Brewing fell nine spots, from No. 14 to No. 25. Though keep in mind, when it comes to craft brewing, less production isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s part of what makes craft beer a craft.

Check out the full list: 

Brewers Association Top 50 Breweries 2014

© The Brewers Assocation

Related: 24 Elite Breweries Declare Their Focus on Sustainability as well as Great Beer 
The United States of Beer: Who Owns Your Favorite Brewery 
80 Fantastic Canned Beers to Celebrate 80 Years of the Beer Can 

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