On March 27, the Brewers Association released its second annual list of the 50 fastest-growing small and independent craft breweries in the United States.

Delmarva’s own Big Oyster Brewery of Rehoboth Beach, DE ranked #2 on the list, second only to Lake Time Brewery of Clear Lake, IA.

These 50 small and independent breweries experienced a median growth of 163 percent with the median size being 1,350 barrels of in-house production in 2018. Breweries on the list range from 50 barrels to more than 40,000, and grew from less than 70,000 barrels collectively in 2017 to more than 170,000 barrels in 2018.

The Brewers Association’s 50 Fastest Growing Breweries of 2018. Click to enlarge.

Mike Anderson, Big Oyster’s Director of Sales and Distribution, attributes the brewery’s growth and success to its hard-working team.

“We’ve worked really hard since day one,” he said. “The brewers and I never really envisioned this as a goal I guess, but it’s absolutely always been a goal of mine to share the great beer that they pump out of the brewery with as many people as possible.”

Other Delaware, Maryland or Virginia-area breweries to make the list, which represents the growth of small breweries in 27 states across the U.S. for 2018, are 1781 Brewing Co. of Spotsylvania, VA (#13) and Steinhardt Brewing Co. of Frederick, MD (#23).

As a group, these brewing companies represent approximately 10 percent of total craft growth by volume for the year, and include 13 brewpubs, 35 microbreweries, and two regional craft breweries.

“Even as market competition continues to increase, these small and independent breweries and brewpubs demonstrate there are still growth opportunities across a diverse set of regions and business models,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association, in a press release.

“For the most part, the quality of the beer makes it easy for me,” Anderson said. “From start to finish it’s been a team effort to build our brand into what it is today. We’ve fought really hard to earn a place on draft lists at so many awesome locations, and we are fortunate to have the team that we have who’s dedicated to working hard on a day to day basis and not for ourselves, but each other.”

Brewery growth is measured based on production at their facilities, according to the Brewers Association. Breweries must have opened by December 31, 2016 or earlier to be considered. It only includes breweries that reported 2018 production to the Brewers Association’s annual Beer Industry Production Survey; breweries with staff estimates or data from state excise tax reports were not considered. Breweries also needed a validated production figure for 2017, either via the production survey or state excise tax data.

Anderson says that while Big Oyster doesn’t always have the time to send their product out to craft beer events and competitions, they know that their beer and their brand is special. It’s only a matter of time, he said, until word spreads and more people from all over the country flock to the Rehoboth Beach brewery.

“After our expansion into southeastern Pennsylvania, we’re going to be geared up and ready for summer,” he said.

Kristin Helf
Author: Kristin Helf

Kristin is a writer and picture-taker in Ocean City, Maryland. She likes puppies, pumpkin ales and watching movies for the Ocean City Film Festival in her spare time.

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