The Best-Selling Craft Brewers in the U.S.
With more than 7,000 small producers operating nationwide, craft beer continues to cut into the overall beer market.
The Best-Selling Craft Brewers in the U.S.
America’s craft beer scene has never been stronger, with more than 7,000 small brewers operating throughout the country. The Brewers Association expects another 1,000 to open in 2019, so no matter where you live it’s likely there’s at least one taproom nearby.
Macro beer brands like Budweiser and Coors still dominate the overall landscape, but 40 of the nation’s 50 largest breweries by sales volume are craft breweries. A craft brewery, according to the Brewers Association, is one that produces fewer than 6 million barrels of beer annually and is less than 25 percent owned by a non-craft brewer. A barrel of beer, or keg, contains 31 gallons.
Many of the leading craft brands are available nationwide, but several maintain a regional presence or distribute to fewer than half the states. That makes it even more impressive that they are able to achieve such high sales volume. Let’s take a look at the top 25.
25. August Schell Brewing
Location: New Ulm, Minnesota
Sales volume (barrels): 117,300
Instagram followers: 11,000
Popular beers: Schell's Original, Keller Pils, Grain Belt Premium
Availability: Seven states
Backstory: August Schell is the second-oldest family-owned brewery in the U.S. In 2002, it purchased the Grain Belt label from another 19th century Midwest brewer, Minnesota Brewing, which went out of business. True to its roots, August Schell makes German-style beers but also dabbles in the latest trends, like brut and hazy IPAs.
24. Summit Brewing
Location: St. Paul, Minnesota
Sales volume (barrels): 122,987
Instagram followers: 18,000
Popular beers: Extra Pale Ale, Great Northern Porter, Saga IPA
Availability: Five states
Backstory: A year after its founding, Summit won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for its Great Northern Porter. The honor made the brewery very popular, and by 1998 it outgrew its original production space. Summit decided to build a new facility, making it the first brewery to be constructed from the ground up in Minnesota since Prohibition ended.
23. Odell Brewing
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
Sales volume (barrels): 126,375
Instagram followers: 93,000
Popular beers: 90 Shilling, Easy Street Wheat
Availability: 19 states
Backstory: Founder Doug Odell was a one-man operation for the brewery’s first five years, but nowadays it boasts 16 400-barrel brewing systems. To ensure the brewery’s continued independence, the Odell family sold off all but 30 percent ownership to existing employees in 2015.
22. Stevens Point Brewery
Location: Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Sales volume (barrels): 129,000
Instagram followers: 4,000
Popular beers: Point Special, Hoptastic, Classic Amber
Availability: 18 states
Backstory: Only two other independent breweries have been continuously operating for longer than Stevens Point. It’s so old, in fact, that soldiers in the Civil War were drinking the Point Special lager.
21. Abita Brewing
Location: Abita Springs, Louisiana
Sales volume (barrels): 130,332
Instagram followers: 46,000
Popular beers: Amber, Purple Haze, Turbodog Ale
Availability: 46 states
Backstory: During its first decades, Abita beers were only available in Louisiana. That started to change in 2011 when it ramped up production and began to distribute more widely, and in 2013 the brewer tripled production by adding a 200-barrel system to its existing 100-barrel operation.
20. Great Lakes Brewing
Sales volume (barrels): 136,551
Instagram followers: 53,400
Popular beers: Dortmunder Gold, Eliot Ness Amber Lager, Burning River Pale Ale
Availability: 13 states
Backstory: Great Lakes was the first microbrewery and brewpub to open in Ohio. Over the years, it has positioned itself as an environmental steward, including building a straw-bale facility, composting, burning old promotional materials as a heat source, recycling spent grains and utilizing outside air in winter months for refrigeration.
19. Alaskan Brewing
Location: Juneau, Alaska
Sales volume (barrels): 139,800
Instagram followers: 33,000
Popular beers: Amber, Freeride Pale Ale, Icy Bay IPA
Availability: 22 states
Backstory: Alaskan was the first brewery to open in Alaska since Prohibition, and it employs the same brewing techniques that brewers used during the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1800s. That includes alder-smoked malts and Sitka spruce tips for its Alaskan Amber.
18. Harpoon Brewery
Sales volume (barrels): 184,850
Instagram followers: 76,000
Popular beers: IPA, Dark, Dunkin' Coffee Porter
Availability: 29 states
Backstory: Harpoon is a staple of the Boston beer scene and hosts three popular annual festivals in the city. When it was founded in 1986, it was the first company in nearly three decades to receive a permit to manufacture and sell alcohol in Massachusetts.
17. Matt Brewing
Location: Utica, New York
Sales volume (barrels): 192,100
Instagram followers: 17,400 (Saranac)
Popular beers: Adirondack Lager, Black & Tan, Pale Ale
Backstory: The fourth-oldest family owned brewery in the U.S. makes the Saranac line of beers. It also does contract brewing for smaller labels and was one of the only four breweries in the country to make Billy Beer in the late 1970s, a gimmicky brew named after President Jimmy Carter’s brother Billy, who liked to drink.
16. New Glarus Brewing
Location: New Glarus, Wisconsin
Sales volume (barrels): 231,875
Instagram followers: 46,700
Popular beers: Spotted Cow, Wisconsin Belgian Red, Uff-Da Bock
Backstory: New Glarus stands out for the quality of its brews and its laser focus on the Wisconsin market for sole distribution. In fact, bars in Minnesota and New York City have been fined for illegally selling pints of Spotted Cow, the brewery’s most famous offering. New Glarus operates out of a $21 million facility that is designed to resemble a Bavarian village.
15. Minhas Craft Brewery
Location: Monroe, Wisconsin
Sales volume (barrels): 242,832
Instagram followers: No account
Popular beers: Simpler Times, Boatswain, Kirkland Signature Light
Backstory: This historic Midwest brewery originally called Monroe Brewing is now owned by Canadian siblings Ravinder and Manjit Minhas, who also operate a Minhas brewery in Calgary. Minhas makes a variety of alcohols, but is best known for producing the value house brands for Trader Joe’s and Costco.
14. SweetWater Brewing
Sales volume (barrels): 244,420
Instagram followers: 89,100
Popular beers: 420 Extra Pale Ale, Blue, Georgia Brown
Availability: 25 states
Backstory: Specializing in unpasteurized brews, SweetWater was created to bring West Coast-style beers to the Southeast. It maintains several green business practices, such as giving spent grains, hops and yeast to Georgia farmers and ranchers. It also reclaims millions of gallons of water annually to be used for future brewing.
13. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Location: Milton, Delaware
Sales volume (barrels): 275,784
Instagram followers: 371,000
Popular beers: 60 Minute IPA, Ancient Ales
Backstory: Dogfish is well known for its wacky and experimental beers, such as a line called Ancient Ales that feature recipes derived from the chemical analysis of pottery and drinking vessel residue found at archaeological sites around the world. The first was Midas Touch Golden Elixir, developed from a residue sample from the 8th century tomb of King Midas. Dogfish’s merger with Boston Beer in 2019 will likely create the largest craft brewing company in the U.S. in years to come.
12. Brooklyn Brewery
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Sales volume (barrels): 282,000
Instagram followers: 162,000
Popular beers: Lager, American Ale
Availability: 32 states
Backstory: Brooklyn first contracted out its production before buying an old matzo factory in Williamsburg in 1996 where it still makes beer today. From its beginnings, the brewery exported to various countries and now, to meet international demand and keep quality up, it makes beer in Japan, Sweden, Australia and Brazil.
11. Artisanal Brewing Ventures
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Sales volume (barrels): 310,759
Instagram followers: 81,100 (Sixpoint); 9,000 (Southern Tier); 95,000 (Victory)
Breweries: Sixpoint, Southern Tier, Victory
Backstory: Artisanal was formed by the family office Ulysses Management with the merger of Pennsylvania’s Victory and New York state’s Southern Tier. It became much larger with the acquisition of Sixpoint from Brooklyn, New York in 2018. Its main production facility for all three labels is in Charlotte and called Brewers at 4001 Yancey.
10. Deschutes Brewery
Location: Bend, Oregon
Sales volume (barrels): 313,510
Instagram followers: 158,000
Popular beers: Black Butte, Mirror Pond
Availability: 28 states
Backstory: Originally a brewpub, Deschutes grew by more than 1,000 percent in its first five years of operations. It’s known for its green business practices, including a water reuse system that diverts thousands of gallons of wastewater from the city’s sewer.
9. Stone Brewing
Location: Escondido, California
Sales volume (barrels): 400,000
Instagram followers: 453,000
Popular beers: Arrogant Bastard, Ruination, Stone IPA
Backstory: The brewery is best known for its hop- and alcohol-heavy IPAs. Stone’s Arrogant Bastard is credited with putting San Diego on the craft brewing map in the 1990s, and the company spun it off as its own label in 2015.
Locations: Longmont, Colorado; Tampa, Florida; Salt Lake City; Comstock, Michigan; Inglewood, California; Dallas
Sales volume (barrels): 421,219
Instagram followers: 142,000 (Oskar); 19,000 (Perrin); 160,000 (Cigar City); 10,000 (Squatters); 9,100 (Wasatch); 38,000 (Deep Ellum); 27,000 (Three Weavers)
Breweries: Oskar Blues, Perrin Brewing, Cigar City, Squatters, Wasatch, Deep Ellum, Three Weavers
Backstory: CANarchy is a unique collective of some of the top names in craft beer around the country, with and Oskar Blues and Cigar City being its most recognizable and widest distributed brands. The collective was awarded Craft Brewery of the Year in 2018 by Brewbound. It exists to counter the corporate push into the independent craft beer scene, with more and more macro labels buying up smaller producers or investing heavily into microbreweries.
7. Bell’s Brewery
Location: Comstock, Michigan
Sales volume (barrels): 472,168
Instagram followers: 194,000
Popular beers: Two Hearted Ale, Oberon, Official
Availability: 39 states
Backstory: Bell’s began as a homebrew shop called Kalamazoo Brewing Co., but within a few years it was selling its own beer. The first beers were made in a 15-gallon soup kettle and fermented in open containers covered with plastic wrap. Nowadays, Two Hearted Ale is often cited as one of the best beers in the U.S.
Locations: San Antonio, Texas; Berkeley, California
Sales volume (barrels): 560,351
Instagram followers: 69,600 (Shiner), 2,800 (Trumer)
Breweries: Shiner, Trumer
Backstory: Gambrinus is much better known for the two beer labels that make it the sixth-largest craft brewery in the U.S. by sales volume. Shiner is made by Spoetzl, which started in 1909 and is the oldest brewery in Texas. Trumer has been in Berkeley since 2004 and is the sister brewery of Trumer Brauerei in Austria, a 400-year-old brand. The exact same process and recipe for Trumer Pils is used at the U.S. location.
5. Duvel Moortgat
Locations: Paso Robles, California; Kansas City, Missouri; Cooperstown, New York
Sales volume (barrels): 650,261
Instagram followers: 30,000
Popular beers: Duvel, Duvel Tripel Hop, Maredsous
Backstory: Duvel is a Flemish brewery started in 1871 that came to the U.S. in the early 2000s after purchasing Brewery Ommegang in upstate New York. It’s main offering is simply called Duvel, which means “devil” in Brabantian Dutch, and clocks in at 8.5 percent alcohol. It was originally called Victory Ale and commemorated the end of World War I.
4. New Belgium Brewing
Locations: Fort Collins, Colorado; San Francisco
Sales volume (barrels): 848,609
Instagram followers: 279,000
Popular beers: Fat Tire, 1554 Black Ale, Citradelic
Backstory: New Belgium has always been at the forefront of green business practices and is entirely employee owned as of 2013. Its flagship and still most popular beer is Fat Tire, a Belgian-style amber ale. The company is often recognized for the quality of its workplace experience and reports less than 3 percent annual turnover.
3. Sierra Nevada Brewing
Location: Chico, California
Sales volume (barrels): 1,078,908
Instagram followers: 351,000
Popular beers: Pale Ale, Torpedo IPA, Celebration Ale
Backstory: The granddaddy of craft brewers, Sierra Nevada was started by homebrewers Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi. The brewery has steadily grown over the years from its humble 950 barrels the first year, and its label depicting its famous namesake makes Sierra Nevada one of the most iconic alcohol brands in the world.
2. Boston Beer
Sales volume (barrels): 1,900,000
Instagram followers: 2,000
Popular beers: Sam Adams Boston Lager, Sam Adams Rebel IPA
Backstory: Boston Beer is most known for brewing the Sam Adams line of beers. It also make Angry Orchard ciders, Twisted Tea malt beverages and Truly Spiked & Sparkling hard seltzers. After acquiring Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in 2019, it could take over the top spot on this list in years to come.
1. D.G. Yuengling & Son
Location: Pottsville, Pennsylvania
Sales volume (barrels): 2,660,000
Instagram followers: 42,000
Popular beers: Traditional Lager, Porter, Lord Chesterfield Ale
Availability: 22 states
Backstory: America’s top craft beer producer is also America’s oldest brewery. The entirety of Yuengling’s production is distributed on the East Coast and in the South. Two of owner Dick Yuengling’s four daughters run the operation today (the other two also work for the company), and he already picked one of them to inherit a 51 percent ownership stake. It’s unknown publicly which one he chose.