Pottsville’s D.G. Yuengling & Son is once again top craft beer company in the United States by sales volume, according to newly released data from the Brewers Association, a nonprofit brewing industry trade group.
The organization this week released its list of the top 50 brewing companies by sales volume for 2018, which Yuengling topped for the fifth straight year, beating out craft beer stalwarts like Boston Beer Co. (of Sam Adams fame), Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and New Belgium Brewing Co., among others. The company, which operates breweries in Pottsville and Tampa, Fl., was also ranked the sixth biggest beer maker by sales volume in the country, craft or not, behind larger companies like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors.
The BA did not provide actual production volume numbers.
“Although the market has grown more competitive, particularly for regional craft breweries with the widest distribution, these 50 small and independent brewing companies continue to lead the craft brewing market in sales through strong brands, quality, and innovation,” Bart Watson, BA chief economist, said via a release.
Yuengling’s time at the top of the list goes back to 2014, when it was first named the top-selling craft beer company in the country. That year, the Brewers Association also changed its criteria for what can be considered a small craft brewery, allowing for larger beer producers like Yuengling and Narragansett, HuffPo notes.
Currently, the BA indicates that in order to be considered a craft brewery, a beer company must produce fewer than six million barrels of beer per year, be independently operated, and have an Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau Brewer’s Notice, which allows for the legal commercial production of beer. The organization further clarified its definition of a craft brewer last year in a move that allows the designation to be more inclusive, the BA wrote in a release in December.
Yuengling’s inclusion on the list comes following boycotts of the company in recent years.
Owner Dick Yuengling has been considered antiunion since at least 2006, when he gained a reputation as a union buster after allegedly threatening to close the Pottsville brewery if Teamsters workers did not decertify their union, which they ultimately did. The National Labor Relations Board later ruled in the company’s favor, and found no evidence to support claims that Yuengling pressured employees to deunionize. In response, the Teamsters urged members to boycott Yuengling’s beer.
More recently, an online boycott of the company began in 2016 after owner Yuengling, — who, according to Forbes, is worth $1.2 billion — endorsed Donald Trump in that year’s presidential race. Yuengling previously had given a tour of the company’s Pottsville brewery to Trump’s son Eric Trump, telling him “our guys are behind your father,” drawing the ire of less right-wing drinkers.
Since then, some drinkers have vehemently opposed the company, and they renewed calls to boycott its beer following Yuengling’s Trump endorsement, citing tax issues and environmental problems in addition to Yuengling’s history with unions as reasons to stop buying the company’s beer. However, as its owner told Billy Penn back in 2017, this most recent boycott has done “nothing noticeable” to the company’s bottom line.
“Look,” Yuengling said, “we survived Prohibition. We survived two world wars, when you couldn’t get any grain. We’ll be fine.”
In addition to Yuengling, local breweries were well represented on the BA’s list of top 50 craft breweries for 2018. PA’s own Artisinal Brewing Ventures (an amalgamation of Victory Brewing and Southern Tier Brewing) snagged 11th place, jumping up three places from last year, while Hershey’s Tröegs Independent Brewing snagged 27th place, also up three spots.