Beer Man

Avery Brewing Cracks the List of the Fifty Largest U.S. Craft Brewers

Avery Brewing is the 48th largest craft brewery in the United States.
Avery Brewing is the 48th largest craft brewery in the United States. Jonathan Shikes
For the first time in its history, Boulder's Avery Brewing is listed among the fifty largest craft breweries in the nation, according to the Brewers Association. There are five Colorado breweries in the top fifty.

The list has changed significantly over the past few years as several large craft brewers have been gobbled up by even larger corporate entities, removing them from the Boulder-based BA's guidelines for what companies qualify as craft; the trade group periodically alters that definition, as well. Firestone Walker, Ballast Point, Lagunitas, Breckenridge Brewery and Four Peaks Brewing, all of which were listed last year, are no longer considered craft.

The four largest craft breweries in the nation in 2016 were Pennsylvania's Yuengling, Boston Beer Company (the maker of Sam Adams), California's Sierra Nevada, and Fort Collins-based New Belgium Brewing, according to the list, which was released Wednesday by the BA.

New Belgium has consistently been in the top four for the past decade or so. The second-largest craft brewery in Colorado is Longmont's Oskar Blues Brewery Holding Company, which ranks tenth on the list. Oskar Blues jumped four spots from 2015, in part because of its acquisition of Florida's Cigar City Brewing last year.

Oskar Blues is followed on the BA's list by Odell Brewing in Fort Collins, at 27, and Left Hand Brewing, also in Longmont, at 44. Left Hand slipped five spots because of lower production in 2016 after a recall of its number-one seller, Milk Stout Nitro, which was brewed with the wrong yeast.

Avery Brewing is in the 48th spot; the company moved into a huge new $30 million building on five acres in early 2015 and currently has the capacity to make 85,000 barrels of beer per year, with additional room to expand in the future. See the entire list on the Brewers Association website.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes