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20 Top Selling Craft Breweries: Business Is Booming (PHOTOS)

First Posted: 02/ 7/2012 10:38 am   Updated: 02/ 7/2012 4:06 pm

Beer, brewski, liquid courage -- whatever you may call it, beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the U.S. And while the big players like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors have seen consistent declines in their billion-dollar sales, regional craft breweries continue to attract a growing fan base of quality, small batch brews.

In 2011, all top 25 craft breweries experienced increases in revenues. Craft breweries recorded 15 percent growth in volume of barrels shipped, compared to a 1.5 percent decrease in the beer industry overall, according to industry estimates from Beer Marketer's Insights. Currently, 1,900 craft breweries are in operation across the nation, with an additional 900 in the planning stages, making great beer a more accessible treat for the 95 million beer lovers in the U.S.

Craft brewers, defined by the Brewers Association as breweries that produce 6 million barrels of beer or less annually, often use traditional methods to create malts and incorporate unique adjuncts to enhance flavors. "A light American lager no longer satisfies every taste," said Julia Herz, the craft beer program director at the Brewers Association. "Americans have developed a discerning palate, so if it's not world class quality, it won't survive." In an age where the majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a brewery, Herz points out that a great shift in the industry has been the localization of beer, creating a greater following for businesses heavily involved in their communities.

While rich lagers and unique brands characterize the craft scene, the true ambassadors are the passionate brew masters behind these small businesses, many of whom started home brewing in their basements. "They are carving out their version of the American dream," Herz said. "Where there's a cause, there is a great willingness to roll up their sleeves and start a business."

According to industry estimates from Beer Marketer's Insights, here are the top 20 craft breweries in the U.S.

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  • #20 - Great Lakes Brewing Company

    <strong>Location:</strong> Cleveland, Ohio <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 120,000 -- 31.9 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> Dortmunder Gold

  • #19 - Long Trail Brewing Company

    <strong>Location:</strong> Bridgewater Corners, Vt. <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 120,000 -- 10.1 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> Double Bag Ale

  • #18 - Abita Brewing Company

    <strong>Location:</strong> Abita Springs, La. <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 125,000 -- 14.7 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> Abita Jockamo IPA

  • #17 - Shipyard Brewing Company

    <strong>Location:</strong> Portland, Maine <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 129,000 -- 31.6 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> Shipyard Export Ale

  • #16 - Alaskan Brewing Company

    <strong>Location:</strong> Juneau, Alaska <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 130,000 -- 11.1 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> Alaskan Amber

  • #15 - Brooklyn Brewery

    <strong>Location:</strong> Brooklyn, N.Y. <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 140,000 -- 29.6 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> Brooklyn Lager

  • #14 - Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

    <strong>Location:</strong> Milton, Del. <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 144,000 -- 19 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> 60 Minute IPA

  • #13 - Stone Brewing Company

    <strong>Location:</strong> Escondido, Calif. <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 149,000 -- 29.6 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> Stone IPA, Arrogant Bastard Ale

  • #12 - Boulevard Brewing Company

    <strong>Location:</strong> Kansas City, Mo. <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 157,000 -- 5.4 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> Single-Wide IPA, Chocolate Ale

  • #11 - Lagunitas Brewing Company

    <strong>Location:</strong> Petaluma, Calif. <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 165,000 -- 55.7 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> Lagunitas IPA

  • #10 - Harpoon Brewery

    <strong>Location:</strong> Boston, Mass. <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 173,000 -- 15.3 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> Harpoon IPA, UFO Hefeweizen

  • #9 - Bell's Brewery

    <strong>Location:</strong> Galesburg, Mich. <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 180,000 -- 16.9 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> Bell's Lager, Java Stout

  • #8 - Matt Brewing Company

    <strong>Location:</strong> Utica, N.Y. <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 196,000 -- 7.7 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> Saranac

  • #7 - Deschutes Brewery

    <strong>Location:</strong> Bend, Ore. <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 223,000 -- 9.9 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> Red Chair NWPA, Mirror Pond Pale Ale

  • #6 - Magic Hat Brewing Company

    <strong>Location:</strong> South Burlington, Vt. <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 336,000 -- 4.3 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> #9, Single Chair

  • #5 - Spoetzl Brewery

    <strong>Location:</strong> Shiner, Texas <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 487,000 -- 13 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> Shiner Bock

  • #4 - Craft Brew Alliance

    <strong>Location:</strong> Portland, Ore. <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 635,000 -- 8.5 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> Red Hook, Kona

  • #3 - New Belgium Brewing

    <strong>Location:</strong> Fort Collins, Colo. <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 713,000 -- 7.9 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands: </strong> Fat Tire, Lips of Faith

  • #2 - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

    <strong>Location:</strong> Chico, Calif. <strong>Barrels Sold in 2011:</strong> 858,000 -- 9.2 percent increase since 2010 <strong>Popular Brands:</strong> Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Ovila Abbey Ales

  • #1 - The Boston Beer Company

    Location: Jamaica Plain, Mass. Barrels Sold in 2011: 2,440,000 -- 8 percent increase since 2010 Popular brands: Samuel Adams, Twisted Tea

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