On Tuesday, the Brewers Association released a first — an inaugural list that celebrates the 50 fastest-growing U.S. breweries of 2017. While the nonprofit's nationwide nods went to operations across 25 states, everywhere from California to Vermont, a couple of beermakers in the Bay area were also recognized.
The locals in question? Mastry's Brewing Co. in St. Pete Beach and Bradenton's Darwin Brewing Co., two of the four Florida breweries that made the cut. Darwin Brewing secured the 34th spot, while Mastry's Brewing landed in the top 10 at No. 7.
As for the Sunshine State's other mentions, Islamorada-based Florida Keys Brewing Co. ranked highest at No. 4, followed by Idyll Hounds Brewing Company in Santa Rosa Beach at No. 16.
"We wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for our family, friends and having such great patrons. It's been a real labor of love to bring Mastry's to where it is today, and we aren't even close to slowing down," said Mastry's Brewing founder Matthew Dahm.
The Brewers Association champions small and independent breweries, which is what its new list reflects. For the 50 operations in the spotlight — eight brewpubs, 40 microbreweries and two regional breweries whose median size went from 284 barrels in 2016 to 963 barrels in 2017 — median growth from 2016 to 2017 was 216 percent. They represent 5.5 percent of the craft category's growth by volume last year.
But, to qualify for consideration, the breweries also had to be executing all production at their own facilities; up and running since Dec. 31, 2015, or earlier; and reporting to the Brewers Association's annual Beer Industry Production Survey (beermakers with staff estimates and state excise tax report data weren't taken into account).
"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 for the 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."