DC - So why aren't any locals on the "top brewery list?"
D.C.’s beer scene has been growing like crazy. So why aren't any locals on this 'top breweries' list?
By Rebecca Cooper
The Brewers Association came out with its annual list of the nation’s top craft brewing companies last week, and it might have left some D.C. beer fans scratching their heads. D.C.’s beer scene is growing exponentially and winning all types of awards, so how come no area breweries made the list?
The short answer: It’s because the list is ranked by volume. So with Yuengling and Sam Adams’ Boston Beer Co. (NYSE: SAM) topping the list — yes, they’re still considered craft breweries at their massive scale — even Greater Washington’s largest breweries are still a far cry from brewing at that kind of capacity.
The last company on the top craft breweries list, No. 50, is BJ’s Brewery, the Huntington Beach, California, company behind more than 170 locations of BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse around the U.S. BJ’s, which is a public company (NASDAQ: BJRI), brewed just more than 60,000 barrels of beer in 2016 between its in-house and third-party brewing operations, according to its Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
In contrast, Port City Brewing Co. in Alexandria, one of the D.C. area’s largest breweries, did 17,000 barrels. D.C. Brau, the other elder statesman of the region’s modern brewing scene, did just more than 15,000 barrels last year.
Both Port City and D.C. Brau have expansions planned, though even with those capacity increases they wouldn’t break the existing “top 50” threshold. Port City, which announced last year that it would open a satellite brewhouse in a warehouse down the road from its existing Alexandria facility, expects to be at about 35,000 barrels per year after the expansion.
With its new brewing line, D.C. Brau said it would up its capacity by 360 percent during the next decade, which would put it at a little more than 55,000 barrels. But that’s not until 10 years from now, at which point, surely, other breweries that made the list will have ramped up production as well.
Brewery expansion in the D.C. area is hampered by high real estate costs, along with other headwinds. But not making the list with some of their behemoth brethren isn’t necessarily a problem for Washington’s breweries. (The one Maryland brewery that did make it is Flying Dog at No. 32; Delaware’s Dogfish Head also made the list at No. 23.) D.C. Brau has no current plans to go national, and neither does Port City.
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