Like most retail operations, craft breweries saw their sales slump and market share dwindle during the pandemic as taprooms and pubs shuttered their doors. The Brewers Association, a trade group for small and independent breweries, estimates that the overall U.S. beer market fell 3% by volume in 2020, with craft breweries taking a 9% hit.
But craft breweries aren’t crying in their beer. They fought back by creating innovative offerings in addition to the standard IPAs and ales, like hard seltzers and ever more fruited and flavored beers. According to the trade publication Beverage Industry, IBISWorld, a global research and data organization, predicts a strong rebound from the pandemic, foreseeing industry revenue to rise an annualized 2.4% from $7.3 billion to $8.2 billion over the next five years. (These are America’s top-selling beer brands.)
To determine the most popular craft brewers in America, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a list ranking brewing companies by sales volume in 2020, published by the Brewers Association, a non-profit trade organization serving small and independent American breweries.
The Association defines a craft brewery as a small independent one — specifying that “small” means that it produces no more than six million barrels a year and “independent” means that less than 25% of the operation can be owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
By this definition, some fairly large breweries qualify. For instance, D. G. Yuengling and Son and Boston Beer Co. (of Samuel Adams fame) earn places not only on this list but on a ranking of the 50 top overall brewing companies — putting them on the same playing field as giants like Anheuser-Busch and MolsonCoors.
As the country emerges from the pandemic and starts to get out and socialize again, beer may be the perfect chaser. And as the Brewers Association points out, the majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewery. So drink up! (You might consider some of America’s 40 most delicious beers.)
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