Despite having a down year in terms of sales volume, Deschutes Brewery gained ground in a list of the top country’s top beer sellers.
The Bend-based brewer ranked 10th among craft breweries and 19th overall, according to a list produced by the Brewers Association. The association ranked the top 50 craft brewers and top 50 overall brewers.
The beer industry suffered heavy losses early in the pandemic when restaurants and bars closed for months on end, limiting the amount of draft beer sold. Packaged beer sales did increase for many companies as Americans bought more canned and bottled beer to drink at home. But the overall numbers were still down for most brewers.
Last year, Deschutes took the 11th spot in the ranking of craft breweries. It jumped one spot in 2020 after New Belgium Beer was acquired by Kirin. That acquisition took New Belgium out of the craft beer category.
To meet the definition of a craft brewery, a company must have an annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less. The brewer must also meet the definition of independent, meaning that no more than 25% of the craft brewery can be owned by a company that is not a craft brewer.
Deschutes Brewery sold 235,000 barrels of beer last year, according to Erin Ranin, marketing and communications specialist for Deschutes Brewery. In 2019, Deschutes shipped 288,966 barrels of beer, which was down from 311,000 barrels of beer in 2018.
“After the challenging year we’ve had, we’re glad we’re still here and we are looking forward to improving trends, which it looks like we’re beginning to see,” said Deschutes Brewery founder Gary Fish. “Our team is psyched for the future.”
Deschutes Brewery’s recent acquisition of Boneyard Beer could help boost the company’s sales in 2021. In 2019, Boneyard sold close to 30,000 barrels of beer, all in draft.
Bart Watson, chief economist for the Boulder, Colorado-based Brewers Association, said production fell across the board in 2020 and many companies were put in a bind financially. The hardest-hit companies were those that rely more heavily on draft beer for their sales portfolio.
“The total craft industry was down for the first time in the modern era,” said Watson. “Many brewers had tough years, but it’s difficult to separate which of those struggles are going to continue and which were simply due to the unique nature of 2020.”
America’s top-selling craft brewery last year was D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc., this country’s longest-running brewery, founded nearly 200 years ago. The other companies rounding out the top 10: Boston Beer Co., Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Duvel Moortgat, Gambrinus, CANarchy, Bell’s Brewery Inc., Artisanal Brewing Ventures and Stone Brewing.
Ninkasi Brewing Co., based in Eugene, ranked 33rd place among craft brewers and 42nd overall. Rogue Ales Brewery, based in Newport, ranked 37th among craft brewers and 46th place overall.