This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

10 Biggest Small Beer Brewers in the U.S.

Stocks in this article: BREWSAM

PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- The small brewer is on the rise in the United States, no matter what name you refer to it by.

There were roughly 80 brewers in the U.S. in the early 1980s and about 1,600 breweries in America back in 2009. According to the Brewers Association craft beer industry group, there are more than 2,500 breweries in the United States today, with more on the way.

The Brewers Association craft beer group credits most of that growth to "craft" brewers, who saw sales grow 15% in volume and 17% in dollars last year even as the entire beer industry grew by less than 1.5% after years of post-recession losses. Meanwhile, "craft" beer's retail value hit $10 billion for the first time in 2012.

Yet that includes only the breweries the Brewers Association considers "craft" under its pedantic and ever-changing definition of the term. Of the nation's 2,538 breweries, the association says only 2,480 are "craft." That leaves 58 brewers who fall outside that definition.

The nation's two largest brewers -- Anheuser-Busch InBev and SAB Miller/MolsonCoors joint venture MillerCoors -- are obviously out. Just as well: A-B has seen sales slump since the start of the recession and ended its string of bad luck last year with a scant 0.7% sales uptick. MillerCoors, meanwhile, saw U.S. sales slip 1.1% in 2012.

That leaves 56 breweries the Brewers Association doesn't feel are part of the gang. There's a little list to consult just in case you're curious about who's "craft" and who's "crafty." That list includes brewers such as Minnesota-based August Schell, which was not only founded in the late 1800s and persevered through prohibition without selling out or changing its recipe, but saw demand increase from 89,000 barrels in 2008 to 132,000 barrels this year.

In fact, there are more than a few brewers on the Brewers Association's list that produce fewer than 3 million barrels a year and have shown remarkable growth over the past five years or so. But the definition of "craft" is too narrow to accommodate them and, to small brewers' detriment, discounts the true growth of the small brewing industry here in the United States.

Tax-related beer legislation in Congress would change beer brewing categories and, ultimately, kill the term "craft beer," but lawmakers have shown as little will to pass those bills as they have to do much of anything lately.

Instead, it falls on industry observers to take a closer look at the numbers and see which brewers are really driving growth in the industry. The folks at Beer Marketer's Insights play no favorites and focus primarily on the industry as a business made up of several segments.

They've come up with a category known solely as "small/specialty brewers" that separates small U.S. brewers from their larger competitors and importers. It doesn't separate by "craft" and "crafty." It doesn't care how many breweries a brewer operates or what kind of beers they make. It just tells the story of small brewing by showing its production numbers, which are booming.

Consulting their data -- and only their data -- we've come up with a list of the 10 most successful small breweries in the country. Regional brewers, "craft" brewers and brewers who fell from craft grace all make the cut. Feel free to debate the merits over a can, bottle or pint, but just realize that all of the brewers below are making the bar and beer cooler more diverse, fun places for beer drinkers to be:

1 of 11

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,390.52 +195.10 1.13%
S&P 500 2,018.05 -2.75 -0.14%
NASDAQ 4,630.7410 +64.6030 1.41%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs