At the recent Craft Brewers Conference, I noticed something different in the welcome speech from Charlie Papazian, President of the Brewers Association (BA). I whispered to a friend sitting next to me: "He's never once said 'craft' brewery. He's using the term: 'small and independent brewery.'" A small detail, perhaps, but potentially a paradigm shift.
Papazian and the Brewers Association define 'craft' breweries using three criteria. Notice the third.
An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional.Yesterday, the BA published new statistics on the state of the industry of 'craft' breweries.
- Small: Annual production of beer less than 6 million barrels. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition.
- Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.
- Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewer's brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.
In 2011, 'craft' breweries accounted for 5.7% of the beer produced in the United States; in 2012, 6.5%, a 14% increase. In 2011, there were approximately 2,036 'craft' breweries in the U.S.; in 2012, there were 2,403, an increase of 18%. And, possibly most significantly, 'craft' beer's dollar share of the total U.S. beer market was $8.7 billion in 2011; in 2012, it reached $10.2 billion, a 17% increase. That marked a crossing of a beer Rubicon of a sort: craft beer sales in 2012 accounted for a 10.2% dollar share.
Note the use of "Small and Independent" in the above graphic from the BA. Of course, they also use the term "craft." Yet, still, it does seem a shift in tone and message.
Here, from the BA's press release is the list of the top 10 'small and independent' breweries (or 'craft', if you will), based on sales volume in 2012:
- 1. Boston Beer Company: Boston, Massachusetts
- 2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company: Chico, California
- 4. New Belgium Brewing Company: Fort Collins, Colorado
- 4. The Gambrinus Company: San Antonio, Texas
- 5. Deschutes Brewery: Bend, Oregon
- 6. Lagunitas Brewing Company: Petaluma, California
- 7. Bell's Brewery, Inc.: Galesburg, Michigan
- 8. Matt Brewing Company: Utica, New York
- 9. Harpoon Brewery: Boston, Massachusetts
- 10. Stone Brewing Company: Escondido, California
Flying Dog Brewery —of Frederick, Maryland, n the Washington, D.C. / Maryland / Virginia region (in which this blog resides)— took the 29th spot. Rounding out the top fifty was Troegs Brewing, of Hershey, Pennsylvania. See the rest of the list of the Top 50 'small and independent' breweries: here.
Again, according to the Brewers Association, the top 10 breweries in 2012 in the United States, solely by volume, regardless of affiliation, were:
- 1. Anheuser-Busch Inc.: St. Louis, Missouri
- 2. MillerCoors: Chicago, Illinois
- 3. Pabst Brewing Company: Los Angeles, California.
- 4. D. G. Yuengling and Son Inc.: Pottsville, Pennsylvania
- 5. Boston Beer Company: Boston, Massachusetts
- 6. North American Breweries: Rochester, New York
- 7. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company: Chico, California
- 8. New Belgium Brewing Company: Fort Collins, Colorado
- 9. Craft Brew Alliance, Inc.: Portland, Oregon
- 10. The Gambrinus Company: San Antonio, Texas
Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors are not American-owned. Pabst owns no breweries; it is, in effect, a marketing company. Thus, the largest American-owned brewery is Yuengling, family owned and the oldest brewing company in the United States. Boston Beer —maker of the Sam Adams beers— is the second-largest. Yuengling Lager —Yuengling's flagship beer— is brewed with a hefty proportion of corn. As the BA does not consider corn to be 'traditional' —a stipulation that is historically fallacious— it refuses to recognize Yuengling as a small and independent brewery.
North American Breweries is a conglomerate comprising Dundee, Genesee, Labatt Lime, Magic Hat, and Pyramid brands. The Craft Brew Alliance comprises Kona, Omission, Red Hook, and Widmer Brothers brands.
Rounding out the top 50 overall breweries is Karl Strauss Brewing Company, of San Diego, California (which is also 39th on the list of 'craft' breweries). Maryland's Flying Dog Brewery comes in at #40. See the rest of the list here. Of those fifty, thirty-nine are defined by the BA as small and independent.