The Brewers Association released their annual Top 50 lists of American breweries yesterday, documenting the latest growth trends in the American brewing industry. As with last year, there was a great deal of movement, and several names completely new to the rankings. The most dramatic growth happened at #9 Lagunitas, which has jumped an incredible 20 spots in the last two years. This comes on the heels of Lagunitas’ announcement of a new production brewery to be located in Chicago, signaling that this year’s growth is only the beginning.
Lagunitas is by no means the biggest brewery with expansion plans however. Within the last few months, number three New Belgium and number two Sierra Nevada have both announced plans for brewing facilities in and around Asheville, N.C. This trend in cross-country expansion is a testament to the expanding consumption of craft beer on the east coast.
The new class for 2012 includes Northern California standbys Lost Coast and Bear Republic, as well as regional brewers Narraganset and Blue Point. All four have been included in the the top 50 craft breweries, but this year join the big leagues in the overall rankings.
If you’re not involved in the craft brewing industry, you might see a few more unfamiliar names that have never shown up in a grocery store aisle. Companies such as Craft Brewers Alliance (CBA) and North American Breweries (NAB) are actually corporations actually run several regional breweries. In CBA’s case, the more familiar Redhook, Widmer, and Kona.
OrchestratedBEER customers Firestone Walker and Schlafly Bottleworks both grew significantly last year according to the Brewers Association’s annual lists. Both breweries moved up three spots from their ranking in the 2011 report, Schlafly from 42 to 39 and Firestone Walker from 26 to 23. Both Schlafly and Firestone Walker are in the process of implementing OrchestratedBEER brewery management software as part of their 2011 expansion plans.