Food Service & Agriculture and Retail

Founders Brewing rises on list of top craft breweries

April 11, 2013
| By Pat Evans |
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Founders Brewing plows ahead with expansion plans
Founders Brewing is the rated the second best brewery in the U.S. by Ratebeer.com, and several of its beers are listed among the top 100 beers in the world by Beeradvocate.com. Photo via fb.com

Founders Brewing Co. moved up 12 spots on the Brewers Association’s list of top craft breweries — based on sales volume.

Founders ranked 42nd in 2011, but on the 2012 list, released Wednesday, the Grand Rapids brewery moved all the way up to No. 30.

Founders' growth

The jump was expected by co-founder and CEO Mike Stevens, whose company is in the midst of a $26 million, multi phase expansion plan.

“These numbers come out every year. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t look forward to seeing how our needle moves, but what makes us most proud is that our growth comes without compromising the quality of the beer we produce,” Stevens said.

Along with growing in its existing markets by about 68 percent, Founders expanded its distribution footprint by several states and more are in the pipeline for 2013, with Texas, Florida and Canada recently announced.

“To a couple of home brewers that thought it would be fun to make beer for a living, we never would have guessed that Founders would be where it is today,” Stevens said. “We’re honored that so many people have demanded more and more of our beer, so that today we sit at No. 30 on this list.”

The brewery projects producing 130,000 barrels of beer in 2013. Eventually, Founders expects to make about 340,000 barrels annually.

Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo held steady at No. 7 for the second year in a row.

Notable craft breweries

The top craft breweries on the list are Boston Beer Co., which makes Sam Adams, and Sierra Nevada.

New Glarus, which is located in Wisconsin and only distributes in the Badger State, is ranked 17th. Ohio’s Great Lakes Brewing Co. comes in at No. 19.

Top overall breweries

In a separate list of the top overall breweries, the big three hold tight with Anheuser Busch, MillerCoors and Pabst Brewing Co. taking the top spots.

Bell’s ranks No. 14 and Founders is No. 41 on the overall list.

Still, craft breweries are catching up, Brewers Association director Paul Gatza said.

“In 2012, craft surpassed 6 percent of the total U.S. beer market, with volume and dollar sales reaching record levels,” Gatza said. “Increasingly, beer lovers are turning to craft-brewed beer from small and independent producers to satisfy their thirst for bold, innovative and flavor-forward beers.”

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