America’s Top 50 Brewers Change Ranks—What the Ale!

The sad state of grocery-store beer. Photo by Greg Nagel

It’s hard to look at the supermarket beer cooler and draw conclusions as to who is winning the craft-beer war. More than half of the brands available are owned by two companies: MillerCoors and ABInBev. Their obvious 18- and 30-packs are on one side of the rack, with their various poseur craft brands camouflaged neatly among various small and independent brewers on the other.

The Brewers Association just released its 2018 rankings based on sales volume, and many of the beers we enjoy at home saw some major changes. Normally, brands gain or lose one or two spots, but this past year included a couple of double-digit movers and shakers.

A peek into Modern Times’ Leisuretowne. Photo by Greg Nagel

On the craft list, Modern Times Beer entered the top 50 by a modest 11 points. Its Leisuretowne, still under construction in Anaheim, will add various beer-tasting areas, as well as a vegan Mexican-food café and a coffee bar. (Other Modern Times locations include Dankness Dojo in Los Angeles; the Lomaland Fermentorium and Flavordome in San Diego; the Far West Lounge in Encinitas; and the Belmont Fermentorium in Portland, Oregon.)

It was no surprise seeing Green Flash Brewing sunset off the list from No. 43 in 2017. That company’s story of larger-scale, poly-state regional distribution where overexpansion, debt and a considerably slowing industry put a dent into operations.

San Diego’s Karl Strauss, which has two locations in OC, made its way onto the big list for the first time at No. 50, which is shocking as the brewery only distributes to the state of California—or Karlfornia, as the staff like to say.

What’s your favorite grocery-store brewery?


Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, level 1 WSET in Wine, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest happening on June 29th in Anaheim!

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