D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. is once again the top craft brewer in the country by sales.
It is No. 1 on the Brewers Association’s 2016 list of Top 50 Craft Brewers in the nation for the third year in a row.
The Pottsville-based brewer has been on the top of the list, published annually by the Brewers Association, since 2014 when the association changed its definition of traditional craft beer to allow for a wider range of brewing styles.
In second place once again is The Boston Beer Co., which brews Sam Adams beers. It also has a presence in the Greater Lehigh Valley with a brewing operation in Fogelsville.
Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association, said Yuengling can probably get comfortable in the top spot. He said the top two positions are largely stable from year to year.
“These brewers are large enough that their position doesn’t vary much,” Watson said.
Not that Yuengling hasn’t been growing. It added distribution to the state of Indiana in January and is expanding its brewing facilities in Florida.
The craft brew industry is growing overall, said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association.
“Sales still show 6 or 7 percent growth by volume,” Gatza said. “Any industry would take that kind of growth rate.”
Gatza said the competition to make the Top 50 was tougher than ever this year.
“Larger craft brewers are getting squeezed out by the smaller breweries that can play the local card,” he said. “Meanwhile, the larger breweries have more sway with the distributors.”
Watson said another Pennsylvania Brewer, Troegs of Hershey, is on the lower half of the list, where the competition is tougher from year to year.
But the brewer is finding growth in that competition.
This year, Troegs placed 38th on the list. It was at No. 45 in 2015 after landing in the No. 44 spot in 2014.
“Troegs has been a fast-growing company and its probably looking at even more growth in future years,” Watson said.
Gatza said he sees further growth for the breweries on the list, even with the growing number of microbreweries flooding the market, because these breweries are showing they have the right stuff to make it.
“For those breweries on the Top 50 list, they really earned it this year,” he said.