The Brewers Association has just announced its inaugural list of the the top 50 fastest growing craft breweries of 2017, and three Oregon breweries made the list. Don’t go looking for Breakside or Fort George, though, as the largest of the three still sold fewer than 300 barrels last year. You may have never have even heard of some or all of these breweries; the fastest growing Oregon brewery was Draper Brewing at 6th place, with Dragon’s Gate Brewery at 14th and Wolf Tree Brewery at 19th. The top 50 list skews heavily towards the tiny “small and independent” craft brewers, with the median brewery size on the list at 963 barrels, up 216 percent since 2016 when the median was 284 barrels. According to the BA, the top 50 breweries in growth represent 5.5 percent of craft’s growth by volume for 2017 and include eight brewpubs, 40 microbreweries, and two regional craft breweries.
Draper Brewing may have been the BA’s 6th fastest growing craft/independent brewery in the U.S. in 2017, but it ranked all the way down at 156th in the state of Oregon and sold 293 barrels in Oregon taxable barrels for the year (this number does not include any out of state sales). Draper has been open since 2010 in Tenmile, Oregon with a tasting room in Roseburg, and has previously received little to no press.
Dragon’s Gate Brewery is a farmhouse and medieval/fantasty-inspired brewery all the way out in Milton-Freewater in the Wallowa Mountains. Dragon’s Gate was 14th on BA’s list, but 216th in Oregon at just 42.3 barrels sold in 2017. From time to time you can find its bottles in the Portland area.
Wolf Tree Brewery is yet another farmhouse brewery and is probably the most talked about on this list. It started as a nano farmhouse brewery outside of Newport in Seal Rock, Oregon, and was featured in our Rural Brewer series in 2014. By 2017 Wolf Tree had installed a larger 7bbl brewhouse and began very limited distribution of its beer in bottles, and out of nowhere won a Gold Medal for its spruce tip beer at the 2017 Oregon Beer Awards. In Oregon Wolf Tree was the 160th ranked brewery in taxable barrels in 2017 and 19th on the BA’s list. Founder Joe Hitselberger said, “We went from 82.5 bbls in 2016 to 272.6 bbls in 2017. Still super small, but it is nice to see that kind of growth. This year we hope to get closer to 500 bbls, which I think we may just pull off.”
More from the Brewers Association announcement:
“With 5 percent growth overall for small and independent brewers in 2017 and microbreweries and brewpubs delivering the majority of that, we wanted to spotlight some of the breweries driving that growth,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “As the growth base for craft becomes more diffuse, these fast growing brewing companies illustrate that a diverse set of success stories still exist.”
Methodology: The list presented includes only small and independent breweries with all of their production at their own facilities. Breweries had to have opened 12/31/2015 or earlier to be considered. It only includes breweries that reported to the Brewers Association’s annual Beer Industry Production Survey; breweries with staff estimates or data from state excise tax reports were not considered. Finally, breweries must have had data from at least three years to be considered.
A comprehensive State of the Industry report will be delivered during the 2018 Craft Brewers Conference, held from April 30 – May 3, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. In May 2018, the Brewers Association will publish the full 2017 industry analysis in the May/June issue of The New Brewer, showing regional trends and sales by individual breweries.
1An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional.
About the Brewers Association
The Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The BA represents 4,000-plus U.S. breweries. The BA’s independent craft brewer sealis a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers by small and independent craft brewers. The BA organizes events including the World Beer CupSM, Great American Beer Festival®, Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America®, SAVOR℠: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, Homebrew Con™, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The New Brewer® magazine, and Brewers Publications™ is the leading publisher of brewing literature in the U.S. Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at CraftBeer.com and about homebrewing via the BA’s American Homebrewers Association® and the free Brew Guru™ mobile app. Follow us on
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