The Largest American Breweries in Context

Then annual Brewers Association list of the largest breweries is out, and based on a bit of the behind-the-scenes email I'm getting, breweries take it pretty seriously. But there a few things you should know in interpreting this list. The most important is that a list is about the crudest measure we could have. The difference separating the first and second breweries is larger than the difference separating #2 and #50 (on both craft and non-craft lists). Because the barrel counts are never divulged, I had to do a bit of spitballing for the following chart, but it should give you a sense of things:

Put another way, the difference between 41 and 42 is on the order of a few thousand barrels; the difference between 1 and 2 is hundreds of thousands.

Next, the really interesting thing about lists is movement, and for that you should check out Jay Brooks, who has put together his annual list of breweries and their movement. He didn't to it for craft breweries, though, so here's your Oregon movers:

5. Deschutes (no movement)
20. Full Sail (down 2 from 18)
25. Rogue (no movement)
32. Ninkasi (up 18 from 50)

BridgePort was in last year's list but axed this year, and Widmer was axed a couple years ago--both owing to definitions about ownership. You also shouldn't jump to the conclusion that a fall in position equals a fall in barrelage--it may mean a brewery like Full Sail just didn't grow as fast as others.