Four San Diego County-based companies, led by Escondido’s Stone Brewing Co., made this year’s annual ranking of the top 50 U.S. craft beer makers based on 2014 sales volume published by the Colorado-based Brewers Association.
Stone Brewing is now the nation’s ninth-largest craft brewer, moving up from 10th place on last year’s ranking by the nonprofit trade group. Also on this year’s list are San Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits (No. 31), Karl Strauss Brewing Co. (No. 45) and Green Flash Brewing Co. (No. 48).
The nation’s largest craft beer maker is now D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc., of Pottsville, Pa., followed by Boston Beer Co. of Boston and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. of Chico.
While not reporting sales figures for individual companies, the Brewers Association reported that U.S. craft beer makers in the past year saw total production reach 22.2 million barrels, up 18 percent from the prior year. The retail dollar value of U.S. craft beer rose 22 percent, to an estimated $19.6 billion.
Craft beer now makes up 11 percent of total U.S. beer production and 19.3 percent of retail dollar value, the trade group reported.
The association said the number of operating breweries nationwide grew 19 percent in the past year, to 3,464. The industry employed 115,469 in 2014, a gain of 5,000 from 2013.
The Brewers Association is based in Boulder, Colo., and represents more than 70 percent of the nation’s small and independent brewers.
San Diego County now has approximately 100 locally based brewers employing more than 6,200 people, according to National University System Institute for Policy Research.