Brewers Association Ranks Top U.S. Brewing Companies


The Brewers Association (BA) today released its annual rankings of the top 50 U.S. breweries based on 2015 sales volumes, and once again Ballast Point Brewing emerged as the biggest mover amongst the industry’s largest craft producers.

Climbing 20 places from 31 on the “Top Craft Brewing Companies” list, Ballast Point is now ranked as the 11th largest U.S. craft brewery, according to the BA. Although the organization’s official production figures will not be made available until next month, the San Diego-based brewery had projected 2015 volumes to be about 290,000 barrels.

Also moving up the list 10 spots from no. 24 was Oskar Blues, which the BA now officially lists as “Oskar Blues Brewing Holding Co.” Ranked no. 14 on the association’s list, the Colorado-headquartered holding company’s 2015 production totals included products from Utah Brewers Cooperative — Squatters and Wasatch brands — as well as Michigan’s Perrin Brewing.

In 2016, the BA said, Oskar Blues’ totals will also include those from recently acquired Florida-based Cigar City, one of five craft breweries now rolled up underneath the brewery’s holding company, which is backed by private equity firm Fireman Capital. In 2015, the combined companies produced more than 320,000 barrels.

Four top-50 craft beer makers that sold all or parts of their companies to larger non-craft producers — Lagunitas Brewing, Ballast Point, Breckenridge Brewery and Four Peaks Brewing — were asterisked by the BA, however, which “pro-rated” their volumes in the data set.

“The top U.S. brewers continue to drive demand, growth, innovation and exponential interest in beers from small and independent brewers,” BA chief economist Bart Watson said via a press release. “With a historic record number of breweries in U.S., the top brewers continue to open new markets and expose beer drinkers to a variety of fuller-flavored styles and offerings.”

In addition to ranking the top craft breweries, the BA also tallied production from the industry’s “Top 50 U.S. Overall Brewing Companies.” In order, the top five includes Anheuser-Busch InBev, MillerCoors, Pabst Brewing Company, D.G. Yuengling & Son and Boston Beer Company.

Founders Brewing was noticeably absent from the BA’s craft list. In 2014 Founders sold a 30-percent stake to Mahou San Miguel Brewery, thus disqualifying it from inclusion in the craft set. Nevertheless, the BA ranked Founders as a top-20 overall beer producer in 2015.

Underscoring the massive amount of recent consolidation and acquisition in the industry, the overall rankings also now include 21 separate footnotes that help to explain how company-wide volumes were tallied.

Notable footnotes:

  • A-B production totals included craft acquisitions Goose Island, 10 Barrel Brewing as well as partial year Golden Road and Elysian figures.
  • In addition to its Tenth & Blake brands, MillerCoors volumes also now include Saint Archer Brewing, which was acquired by the company last September.
  • Boston Beer Company totals include Alchemy & Science and the Samuel Adams beer brand but exclude Twisted Tea and Angry Orchard volumes.
  • Firestone Walker will be included in Duvel Moortgat USA totals in 2016