The Brewers Association (BA) released the top 50 U.S. craft brewing companies, based on 2014 beer sales volume, and for the first time Pennsylvania’s D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. topped Boston Beer Co., makers of Sam Adams, to become the largest craft brewery in the country. It was a change in how the BA defined craft beer that propelled Yuengling to the top spot. Yuengling, makers of Yuengling Lager, uses corn in its beer, an ingredient the association previously considered nontraditional. In March 2014, however, the group changed its definition of a craft brewer to allow for adjuncts like corn and rice. Wisconsin’s Minhas Craft Brewery (No. 10), August Schell Brewing Co. (No. 27) of Minnesota and Rhode Island-based Narragansett Beer (No. 47) are also new to the list because of the new definition.
The BA also announced that, for the first time, American craft brewers have reached double-digit volume share—11 percent—of the marketplace, according to the BA, the nonprofit association representing small and independent brewers.
2014 saw continued growth for craft in an otherwise flat beer market, which was up about 0.5 percent last year. Craft brewers produced 22.2 million barrels in 2014 and saw an 18 percent rise in volume. The number of operating breweries in the U.S. grew 20 percent, totaling 3,464 breweries. There were 615 new brewery openings and 46 closings.