The year 2000 saw the continued stabilization of the craft-brewing industry for both packaging brewers and brewpubs alike, according to figures gathered by the Institute for Brewing Studies (IBS) from breweries across the nation. Overall the industry grew 4.1% in 2000, more than doubling 1999’s 1.9% increase. The net volume gain for 2000 was 235,000 barrels, equivalent to more than 3.2 million cases of new sales –bringing total sales to more than 5.9 million barrels. Craft brewing’s share of the total U.S. beer market remained at 3%.
According to David Edgar, director of the IBS, the slowed growth of the industry during 1996, 1997 and 1998 was a paiful but necessary phase that forced breweries to become stronger, smarter companies.
Several top craft brewers that declined in the late 1990s rebounded in 2000 while many microbreweries and mid-size regional specialty breweries again repeated previous growth, holding to their established patterns of consistent annual growth. The combined volume of beer sold by microbreweries and regional specialty breweries increased by 210,000 barrels, bringing their total volume to just under 3.8 million barrels.
Among reporting regional specialty brewers, sales increased by an average of 8.7% per company. Among reporting microbreweries in business for more than two calendar years, sales increased an average 6.9% per company.
Year 2000 saw several success stories in the packaging side. Standing out among craft breweries were the rebounding Redhook Ale Brewery and Widmer Brothers Brewing Co., which both grew 8% in 2000 following three years of decline. Similarly, Oregon’s Full Sail Brewing Co. posted 4% growth after sliding each of the previous three years.
Not to be outdone, six among the top 20 regional specialty breweries continued their multi-year, double-digit-growth performances in 2000, including Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (+14%), New Belgium Brewing Co. (+12%), Deschutes Brewery (+10%), Alaskan Brewing Co. (+16%), Gordon Biersch packaging brewery (+13%), and Boulevard Brewing Co. (+17%). The combined net volume gain by these five companies adds up to more than 50,000 barrels of new business.
Overall, 21 of the top 50 domestic specialty (craft) brewing companies grew by double digits in 2000. The contract-brewing-company segment of the industry also bounced back in 2000 due to a rebound from segment leader Boston Beer Co.; the Samuel Adams brewer grew 6% in 2000 with a net gain of 70,000 barrels.
Top 22 Fastest-Growing
Craft Brewers in 2000
This list includes Top 50-level craft brewing companies whose sales grew by 10 percent or more during 2000. Figures in parentheses indicate number of breweries/ brewpubs operating during 2000, if more than one. “Shipments” also refers to taxable removals at brewpubs.
* Denotes all or partially contract brewed during 2000.
Information provided by the Institute for Brewing Studies, a division of the Association of Brewers. A complete analysis of the craft-brewing industry’s performance in 2000 is available in the May-June 2001 issue of The New Brewer.