Flying Dog, Dogfish Head move down on largest craft brewers list

Boulder, Colorado-based nonprofit trade group the Brewers Association has released its annual list of the top 50 craft brewing companies in the country — and just one regional brewer remains on the largest-of-the-pack list.

Frederick, Maryland-based Flying Dog Brewery is No. 33 on this year’s list, based on sales volume. It was No. 28 last year.

Flying Dog is busy brewing up a THC-infused pale ale to add to its lineup of beers.

The Brewers Association does not release actual sales volume numbers until later this spring.

One craft brewer familiar to beer drinkers in the D.C.-area on the list is Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, in Milton, Delaware, just outside Rehoboth Beach. It ranks No. 13 on this year’s list of top craft brewing companies, down from No. 12 last year.

Dogfish Head has gotten so big that it’s now the 22nd largest brewer out of all brewing companies, craft and big-time players.

The top three “craft brewers” on The Brewers Association’s list of largest don’t sit well with the most devoted of craft brew drinkers, but they meet the trade group’s criteria.

No. 1 is Pottsville, Pennsylvania-based D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc., the oldest continuously operating brewer in the U.S., dating back to 1829.

No. 2 is Boston-based Sam Adams maker Boston Beer Co., the only publicly traded craft brewer, which produced 598,000 barrels of beer in the final quarter of 2018.

No. 3 is Chico, California-based Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. It is the largest privately owned “craft brewer” in the U.S.

The Brewers Association defines a craft brewer as any brewer that produces six million barrels of beer or less per year and is less than 25 percent owned or controlled by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.

Craft brewers now account for about 13 percent of all U.S. beer sales.

Yuengling, Boston Beer and Sierra Nevada all also fall in the top 10 for largest overall U.S. breweries.

That list is topped by Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, Constellation, Heineken and Pabst Brewing.

“Although the market has grown more competitive, particularly for regional craft brewers with the widest distribution, these 50 small and independent brewing companies continue to lead the craft brewing market in sales through strong brands, quality and innovation,” said Bart Watson, chief economist at The Brewers Association.

Here is The Brewers Association’s 2018 list of the Top 50 U.S. Craft Brewing Companies:

Top 50 brewers across the country.  Click to enlarge.(Courtesy Brewers Association)
Top 50 brewers across the country. Click to enlarge.(Courtesy Brewers Association)
Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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