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Watching breweries grow

Last week I mentioned that when Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi wrote the business plan for Sierra Nevada Brewing their goal was to sell 3,000 barrels of beer annually. They produced 1,500 barrels the first year (1980) and the brewery passed 3,000 in its fifth year of operation.

The Brewers Association classifies breweries that make fewer than 15,000 barrels (31 gallons in a barrel, you’ll recall) “microbreweries” and those larger “regional breweries.” Quite honestly, 60,000 is a more important number to breweries because all barrels produced after that are taxed at a higher rate.

Anyway, it took Sierra Nevada 10 years to grow beyond “micro,” and five years later the brewery produced 150,000 barrels. Growth isn’t always linear. But just for the heck of it here’s a look at 10 breweries you’ve likely heard of and how long it took them to grow from “micro” to “regional.”

How are they doing now? Rather than use 2008 sales figures, which are more than a year old, I’ll update the chart in a few months, after the Brewers Association compiles the 2009 data.

Brewery   Year   Barrels     Barrels
  (Yr of operation)   That Yr     Previous yr
Sierra Nevada Brewing   1989 (10th)   20,884     14,000
Widmer Brothers   1991 (7th)   27,500     12,000
Deschutes Brewery   1994 (7th)   19,719     8,564
New Belgium Brewing   1994 (4th)   18,951     5,837
Harpoon Brewery   1994 (8th)   24,000     12,950
Boulevard Brewing   1995 (7th)   21,000     14,748
Bell’s Brewing   1996 (12th)   15,631     10,250
Stone Brewing   2002 (7th)   18,450     12,779
New Glarus Brewing   2003 (11th)   18,700     13,700
Dogfish Head Brewery   2004 (10th)   20,200     13,600



One Response to Watching breweries grow

  1. Kristen England February 1, 2010 at 12:14 pm #

    Im wondering how the BA’s definitions will change once Sam Adams gets above their definitions of size. I’m guessing they’ll extend those also…

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