You’ve probably never heard of Craftroots Brewing in Milford, Massachusetts, but it was just named the fastest growing craft brewery in America by industry trade group the Brewers Association (BA).
According to Craftroots co-founder Maureen Fabry, production at the small brewery grew 1,440 percent last year, from 20 barrels in 2016 to 308 barrels in 2017.
Roughly 75 percent of that beer was sold directly to consumers in 2017, and the rest was distributed to “about a dozen local restaurants and bars,” Fabry added.
Though small, the 50 breweries that grew the fastest last year accounted for 5.5 percent of craft beer’s total volume growth in 2017, about 65,000 barrels, according to the BA, which represents the interests of small and independent U.S. breweries.
“With 5 percent growth overall for small and independent brewers in 2017 and microbreweries and brewpubs delivering the majority of that, we wanted to spotlight some of the breweries driving that growth,” BA chief economist Bart Watson said via a press release. “As the growth base for craft becomes more diffuse, these fast-growing brewing companies illustrate that a diverse set of success stories still exist.”
Indeed, the median size of breweries on the 2017 list was just 963 barrels, up from 284 barrels the year prior. For perspective, New Belgium Brewing, ranked as the fourth largest craft brewery in the U.S., is about 1,000 times larger than the median brewery on the BA’s newest list.
Only two larger scale regional breweries – Wyoming’s Melvin Brewing and Ohio’s Platform Beer Co. – made the 2017 list of fastest-growing craft breweries.
Both of those companies expanded to around 20,000 barrels last year. Melvin produced just under 8,000 barrels in 2016, while Platform produced 7,000 barrels.
The remainder of the list included 40 microbreweries – companies making fewer than 15,000 barrels – and eight brewpubs, according to the BA.
The list itself came with a few qualifiers, however. To be considered, breweries were required to submit data to the BA via the group’s “Beer Industry Production Survey.” Companies also had to be in business for at least three years, and have opened prior to January 1, 2016, so the organization had three data points to work with.
But for Fabry, who operates out of a 6,000 sq. ft. facility and has a total of nine taproom employees, the list “shows that growth is pretty rapid when you have humble beginnings.”
Craftroots produced just five barrels of beer in 2015, an amount that quadrupled to 20 barrels the following year as Fabry continued sampling the local market before expanding from a 10-gallon brewing system to a 7-barrel brewhouse.
“This list of fastest growing breweries really highlights the phenomenal diversity and creativity among new, small breweries,” she told Brewbound.
Craftroots sources 100 percent of its malt from New England maltsters, Fabry added, and is on pace to produce about 600 barrels of beer in 2018.
“We are focused on sustainable growth and serving a wider variety of beer,” she said.
One of the fastest growing craft breweries in 2016, Lord Hobo Brewing, is also based in Massachusetts. By comparison, the Woburn-based company grew from 3,000 barrels in 2015 to more than 15,000 barrels in 2016, representing growth of 413 percent.
The full list of the fastest growing breweries is below.