Left Hand named a top fifty U.S. brewer; Oskar Blues is second in Colorado

Longmont won big today when the Brewers Association, based just down the road in Boulder, released its annual list of the top fifty biggest craft brewers in the United States.

Left Hand Brewing, which was founded in Longmont in 1993, cracked the list for the first time, logging in at number 49. The brewery made 36,830 barrels of beer in 2011, up an amazing 49.4 percent over 2010. It is currently in the midst of a $9 million expansion plan that involves a new building, new tanks and a new bottling line.

And Oskar Blues, which moved its main brewery operation from Lyons to Longmont in 2008, moved up seven spots to 29th on the list, leap-frogging Fort Collins-based Odell Brewing in the process to become the second-largest craft brewer in the state. The creators of the canned craft-beer revolution brewed 59,000 barrels of beer in 2011, up 40 percent over 2010, and recently added $4 million in new equipment.

The other Colorado craft brewers in the list are: New Belgium, which held steady in its spot at number 3; Odell, which is one notch below Oskar Blues at 30; and Breckenridge Brewing, which moved up four spots between 2010 and 2011 to 41.

"This is big news. It's definitely our first time on the list," says Left Hand marketing director Chris Lennart. But he downplayed the overall significance of the measurement: "At the end of the day, we are looking to make good beer, to treat our employees well, to try to be profitable and at doing the right thing."

For the Brewers Association's list of all fifty brewers, go to their website.

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