In this article, we are going to discuss the 25 largest craft breweries in the US by volume. You can skip our detailed analysis of the oldest recipe for beer, the craft beer revolution, the Brewers Association, the largest beer producer by volume, the top craft brewer state, alliances in the craft beer industry and the craft beer market, and go directly to 10 Largest Craft Breweries in the US by Volume.
It is hypothesized that beer was probably produced independently in different parts of the world. Some believe that beer was the by-product of cereal-based agriculture, with natural fermentation playing its part in the ‘accidental’ lead-up to the brewing.
The oldest recipe for beer was left on a Mesopotamian tablet found near Mount Ararat, and it was contained within a 3900-year-old poem – Hymn to Ninkasi (the Sumerian goddess of beer). Beer consumption was, in fact, an important marker for societal and civilized virtues in the Sumerian society. To give an example, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the world’s oldest known epic, the wild man Enkidu ‘did not know how to eat bread, nor had he ever learned to drink beer!’, with the second phrase suggesting how beer consumption was seen as a ‘quality’ of a civilized person.
Craft Beer Revolution:
Most immigrants who traveled centuries ago to the New World brewed their own beer. There was wheat beer from Germany, various types of ales from England and dry stouts from Ireland. However, after prohibition, there were only a handful of breweries left in the country. By the 1950’s, only three large brewing groups dominated the entire U.S. market, brewing only pilsners, and the beer brewing model had evolved into a mass-production industry, a far cry from ‘craft’.
Everything changed in 1978 when President Jimmy Carter lifted the ban on homebrewing and hobby brewers were now able to sell their beers. Old beer recipes and styles were revived by these newly-legalized homebrewers and the rest is history.
The Brewers Association:
Established in 2005, the Brewers Association is an American trade group of more than 5,600 U.S. brewery members and 37,000 members of the American Homebrewers Association, joined by members of the allied trade, beer distributors etc. The B.A. works to promote and protect small and independent American brewers, their craft beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts.
The American Homebrewers Association is a division of the Brewers Association focused on homebrewers of beer, cider and mead. The Ninkasi Award, named after the Sumerian goddess, is given by the AHA every year to the best homebrewers in the country.
Largest Beer Producer by Volume:
Anheuser-Busch InBev Sa/NV (NYSE:BUD) is the largest beer producer by volume in the world. The company had a global production volume of 595 million hectoliters, or over 25% of the global beer production in 2022. Anheuser-Busch InBev Sa/NV (NYSE:BUD) has a market cap of $113.2 billion and owns a multitude of beer brands all over the world, and even a variety of regional craft brewing companies in the U.S. Anheuser-Busch InBev Sa/NV (NYSE:BUD) shares witnessed a yearly high of $67.03 at the end of March 2023, but then its share price plummeted to a yearly low of $52.93 in May, due to the recent Bud Light Controversy.
Top Craft Brewer State:
California, with its rich craft history, is the top craft beer producing state in the country, with the Golden State boasting 957 craft breweries in 2021. California produced the most craft beer of any state in America in 2021, with over 3.5 million barrels, or 3.8 gallons per every 21+ adult in the state.
Alliances in the Craft Beer Industry:
Craft beer has created a new buzz in the beer industry and it’s creating some strange bedfellows. Though domestic beer brands like Budweiser and Miller etc. still control a 64.5% share of the American beer market, sales of those labels have remained relatively flat while the craft beer industry has boomed over the last few decades. As the craft brewing sector has flourished, the small breweries have had to keep up, and many are entering into what their fans regard as ‘unholy’ alliances with the giants of the industry.
For one thing, part of the appeal of a specialty beer is that it is usually produced in a small brewery by obsessive beer lovers, instead of some mass-production factory by a huge corporation. Devotees of craft beers also worry that such corporations will tamper with the recipes of their favorite drinks.
Beer industry giants, like Molson Coors Beverage Company (NYSE:TAP) and Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE:STZ), want a piece of the sweet craft pie and have invested heavily in either acquiring regional breweries, or creating their own craft brands.
The Molson Coors Beverage Company (NYSE:TAP) acquired the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company in 1988, enabling the family brewery to grow and expand into a national brand. The Leinenkugel Specialty brands had dollar sales of over $100 million in U.S. multi-outlets in 2022.
Molson Coors Beverage Company (NYSE:TAP) also took full ownership of the Blue Moon brand after paying $12 billion to acquire SABMiller brands in North America. Molson Coors Beverage Company (NYSE:TAP) marketed its beer as craft. Enraged, The Brewer’s Association called out Molson Coors Beverage Company (NYSE:TAP) for “unfairly” encroaching on the craft beer market and even excluded such brands from its definition of craft beers. Blue Moon is still one of the best selling “craft” beer brands in the country but it doesn’t match the Brewer’s Association definition of craft, so it’s not in our list of the Largest Craft Breweries in the U.S. by Volume.
Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE:STZ) also seems to have had enough of the craft beer sector. The company bought Ballast Point Brewing in 2016 for $1 billion, at the absolute peak of the craft brewery acquisition craze. Only a few years later, Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE:STZ) sold the Ballast Point brand to Illinois-based Kings and Convicts Brewing Co. for something around $40 million. It was also revealed in May this year that Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE:STZ) is now re-selling the Funky Buddha Brewery back to its original founders, a news warmly welcomed by craft beer enthusiasts around the country.
The Craft Beer Market:
The Brewers Association has revealed that retail dollar sales of craft beer increased 5% to $28.4 billion in 2022, accounting for 24.6% of the overall $115 billion American beer market. The craft brewing industry also contributed $72.2 billion to the U.S. economy in 2022 and provided 460,000 jobs in the country, including 190,000 direct jobs at breweries and brewpubs.
As we mentioned in our article – 25 Most Imported Beer Brands in the World – the global craft beer market was valued at $93.69 billion in 2021, and is expected to reach $243.15 billion by 2030, with a CAGR of 11.2% in the forecast period.
With that said, let’s head over to our list of the Biggest Craft Breweries in the U.S. by Volume.
According to the Brewers Association, the American craft brewer is a ‘small’ and ‘independent’ brewer. ‘Small’ means that the brewer’s annual production must not exceed 6 million barrels, or approximately 3% of the annual U.S. beer sales. ‘Independent’ means that less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
To collect reliable data for this article, we have referred to the May/June 2023 issue of The New Brewer, the journal of the Brewers Association. We have ranked the Largest Craft Breweries in America according to their sales volumes in barrels (bbls) in 2022. One U.S. beer barrel is equal to 31 gallons.
If you’re a craft lover and want to savor the best craft beers America has to offer, please refer to our article Best Craft Beer Brands in Each U.S. State.
Largest Craft Breweries in the US by Volume:
25. Cigar City Brewing
Sales Volume in 2022: 110,000 bbls
Founded by Joey Redner, this Tampa-based craft brewery produced its very first commercial batch in 2009, a 469 gallon batch of Maduro Brown Ale. Cigar City Brewing’s ales bring to mind the sun and citrus for which Florida is known, while taking cues from the cigar industry upon which Tampa was built.
24. Rhinegeist Brewer
Sales Volume in 2022: 110,834 bbls
Located in Cincinnati, this 25,000 square foot, active brewing facility is housed in the former bottling plant of Christian Moerlein Brewing Co., a formidable pre-Prohibition beer maker. The 7.2% Truth IPA is a popular brew by the Rhinegeist Brewery.
23. Odell Brewing Company
Sales Volume in 2022: 115,369 bbls
Founded in 1989, Odell Brewing was started by Doug Odell, his wife Wynne, and his sister Corkie. In 2015, the Odell family sold the majority of the company to its co-workers (now co-owners) in a combined management buyout and an Employee Stock Ownership Program.
22. Georgetown Brewing Company
Sales Volume in 2022: 118,095 bbls
Next on our list of the Largest Craft Brewers in the US by Volume is Georgetown Brewing, an independently owned Seattle craft brewery and maker of the highly-rated Manny’s Pale Ale. In May of 2017, after 14 years of selling beer, the brewery went from a draft-only production facility to canning select full-time beers.
21. Allagash Brewing Company
Sales Volume in 2022: 119,848 bbls
During its 27 year history, this Portland-based brewery has won its fair shares of accolades and honors, while developing an almost cult-like following with its Belgian-focused beers. Their signature brew, Allagash White, has won four gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival. Allagash donates 1% of its revenue to charity, with over $500,000 given to the local community in 2022.
20. Stevens Point Brewery
Sales Volume in 2022: 120,000 bbls
Frank Wahle and George Ruder established the Stevens Point Brewery in 1857, brewing the first Point Beer, and making it the third-oldest privately owned brewery in America. The brewery also invested over $7 million in expansion projects from 2012 to 2015. Stevens Point Brewery is one of the top craft breweries in the US in 2022 by sales.
19. Great Lakes Brewing Company
Sales Volume in 2022: 120,057 bbls
The first brewpub and microbrewery in the state of Ohio, Great Lakes Brewing has been noted as important to Cleveland’s local identity. Independent for over 30 years and employee-owned since 2018, Great Lakes serves 14 states and Washington D.C. with an award-winning selection of fresh, flavorful and innovative craft brews, like the Hazelcraft IPA, Dortmund Gold Lager, and numerous others.
18. Harpoon Brewery
Sales Volume in 2022: 130,000 bbls
Harpoon Brewery is one of the top craft breweries in America by volume. Also known as the Mass. Bay Brewing Company, Harpoon was the first company in Massachusetts to obtain a permit to manufacture and sell alcohol, in more than 15 years. It was also the first brewery in New England to brew an IPA. The company established an Employee Stock Ownership Plan in 2014 and is now an independent, employee-owned craft brewery.
17. Southern Tier Brewing Company
Sales Volume in 2022: 134,500 bbls
Founded in 2002, Southern Tier is a Lakewood-based world-class brewery and one of the Largest Craft Breweries in the U.S. by Sales Volume. The brewery’s handcrafted ales are available in more than thirty states and the 8.2% ABV 2XIPA is one of its most popular brews.
16. Boulevard Brewing Company
Sales Volume in 2022: 158,000 bbls
When John McDonald tried out some Belgian beers on his trip to Europe in 1984, he became absolutely captivated with them. So much so that one day he decided to sell his house and invest in a craft brewery that eventually became the largest specialty brewer in the Midwest. As part of its responsibility towards the local community, Boulevard has also committed more than $70,000 to sustainable causes to date, including tree planting and water protection. Boulevard Brewing Company is a subsidiary of the Duvel Moortgat Brewery.
15. Minhas Craft Brewery
Sales Volume in 2022: 162,288 bbls
Located in the historic town of Monroe, WI, Minhas is the second-oldest brewery in the entire country. Family owned since 1845, the brewery has survived the Great Depression, the Prohibition, brushes with the mob and even two major fires. The 5% ABV Boxer Lager is a top selling craft beer from the Minhas Craft Brewery.
14. Saranac Brewery / Matt Brewing Company
Sales Volume in 2022: 166,712 bbls
Founded in 1888 by a German immigrant named Francis Xavier Matt, the Matt Brewing Company is the fourth-oldest family owned American brewery and currently the 14th Largest Craft Brewery in the Country. The brewery also underwent a $56 million expansion project in 2019 and added a new brewhouse, tank farm, and an additional can line. The Saranac Clouded Dream IPA won 4 gold medals in 2021 and 2022.
13. Athletic Brewing Company
Sales Volume in 2022: 170,000 bbls
Athletic Brewing Company is revolutionizing beer for the modern adult by proudly brewing delicious, craft non-alcoholic beer and hop-infused sparkling water. At 150,000 square feet, Athletic is the largest brewery in the world for non-alcoholic craft beers (by area). The company has actually won 25+ gold medal beer awards and has even donated over $3.2 million to protect and restore local trails.
12. Oskar Blue Brewery
Sales Volume in 2022: 180,000 bbls
From brewing its first batch of Dale’s Pale Ale in 1999, to being the first to have the audacity to put craft beer in a can, Oskar Blue has never stopped making hops, malt and yeast into beer that makes you say ‘Works for me!’ with every sip. Oskar Blue Brewery is also Craft Brewery in America that abstains from using glass bottles.
11. Victory Brewing Company
Sales Volume in 2022: 188,750 bbls
Founded in 1966 in Pennsylvania, Victory Brewing Company was born out of a passion to introduce Americans to a high quality beer and a drinking experience rooted in connectivity. Victory is one of the most decorated craft breweries creating award-winning brands such as Golden Monkey, Prima Pils, DirtWolf and Storm King.
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