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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Breweries Racing Up the Best-Seller Charts

A little birdie just sent me the OLCC reports for Q1 sales in Oregon.  (They're available online, but this bird chirps regular reminders to jog my memory.)  Below are the number of barrels sold in Oregon by Oregon breweries for the first three months of the year by the top twelve brewers.  Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out which of Oregon's 100+ they are. To boost your chances, I'll asterisk those breweries that were founded in the past seven years.  Full list after the jump--along with some commentary.
  1. 17,220.44
  2. 11,523.09
  3. 11,333.33*
  4. 6,744.48
  5. 5,370.23
  6. 4,665.61
  7. 3,270.33*
  8. 2,716.01*
  9. 2,582.65
  10. 2,048.79*
  11. 1,631.32*
  12. 1,585.95 *

The big three are Deschutes (1988), Widmer/CBA (1984), Ninkasi (2006).  The medium three are old-timers Portland (1986), BridgePort (1984), and Full Sail (1987).  Five of the next six are young strivers, along with one fading old-timer: 10 Barrel (2006), Boneyard (2010), Rogue (1988), Hopworks (2007), Double Mountain (2007), and Oakshire (2006). Full list (.pdf) is here.

The Power of Hops
Ever since I posted an argument against Adrienne So's hops-are-taking-over-the-world piece in Slate, I keep seeing evidence that she had a point.  If you look at the old-timers on this list, only one has a hoppy flagship (BridgePort).  They rose to prominence in the period BH (before hops), and became titans by selling wheats, ambers, porters, and whatever Dead Guy is.  The newbies?  They're hop kings, founded in the era AL (after lupulin), which one can safely date to about 2005.  Ninkasi, Boneyard, and Double Mountain are all pretty much explicitly IPA houses, and 10 Barrel, Hopworks, and Oakshire definitely know their way around the hopback.

Oregonians Say Nyet to Rogue
These figures track only what Oregonians are buying, and they're obviously not buying a lot of Rogue.  Newport's finest is the country's 22nd largest brewery, bigger than Full Sail (24) and Ninkasi (31), and yet they sell less beer here than 10 Barrel and Boneyard--breweries most people have never heard of.  It's probably even worse than it looks, because Rogue has nine pubs around the state.  Boneyard, meanwhile, is an all-draft brewery with no pubs (and a tasting room that's not open a lot of the time). 

Lists often give the illusion of a scale, as though the distance separating 9 and 10 is the same as that separating 1 and 2. That's obviously inaccurate: the barrelage of numbers 7-12 totals 13,800 and change--less than Deschutes brewed in the same period.  The distance separating 22 and 11, a thousand barrels, is less than the amount separating six and seven.

Variety Rules
What's not evident from a top-twelve list is how well so many breweries are doing.  Forty-eight breweries are on track to sell over a thousand barrels in Oregon.  If you collapse the McMenamins and Deschutes down, that drops 41, but still.  As a data-head, I'd love to see stats on breweries that crack the thousand-barrel mark.  My guess is Oregon would look even more impressive.

Geek Goggles
Which brewery sells more, oh geeky brethern, Logsdon or Old Market?; Hair of the Dog or Coalition?  You might be surprised to learn that certain breweries with huge reputations and beer geek cred don't actually sell a lot of beer.  Through three months, Upright sold 232 barrels, Flat Tail 240, The Commons 135, Hair of the Dog 83 barrels, and Logsdon 46.  That makes Old Market's 195 look pretty good, doesn't it?

Rising Stars
Some of the recent new breweries are getting off to great starts.  In ascending order we have number 47 Gigantic with 260 barrels, Base Camp (45, 295), Pfriem (42, 304), Worthy (30, 438), and Crux (27, 489).  I guess that answers the question about whether Hood River and Bend are yet saturated, doesn't it?


  1. It will be interesting to see what the top 10 list looks like once Boneyard gets its production brewery up and running and starts distributing in stores in cans and/or bottles (last I heard, they were considering options). They are doing well on impulse power. What happens when they make the jump to warp speed?

  2. Interesting to see MillerCoors at 14, I know it's for Henry's out of Full Sail, just didn't expect it to be that high. I think they revamped the line not too long ago, have to go back and try what they did.

  3. I don't think Henry's is produced by Full Sail any longer, the contract did not get renewed.

    As for Rogue, their beers are overpriced. And nobody wants to drink "beard beer" or "book beer" or any of that other novelty crap they're pushing. Gross, gross, gross.

  4. Been studying the #s and Burnside Brewing is missing from the March 2013 report. Year ago through March had 385 barrels. Trying to compare with last year's March report four breweries are missing from the March 2012 report. (Caldera, Seven Brides, Heater Allen, and The Commons (as Beetje)).

  5. There is another interesting story being told in these numbers too. With the caveat that there could have been changes in the way things are reported, several of the larger breweries have sold less beer in Oregon year to date than last year:
    Deschutes: down ~2,600 bbls in '13 vs '12
    Widmer/CBA: down over 50%, (a reporting fluke?)
    Bridgeport: down ~100 bbls
    Full Sail: down ~40 bbls
    Rogue: down ~350 bbls, as you've noted Jeff

    What might be the most telling stat of all: Beer made in Oregon and sold in Oregon is down ~9,400 bbls in '13 vs '12. What gives?

  6. Yes, with Rogue I've never understood the $10 6-pack. I actually like some of their beers, but I am not going to spend $10 on them when there are so many cheaper and better options.

    Looking forward to Boneyard in cans or bottles. Great beer. And if the rest of Worthy's line-up is anything like its IPA, we can expect to see them on the list pretty soon.

  7. If you look at Rogue's pricing, it would seem they are deliberately pursuing a strategy of lower volume, higher margin.

  8. How can you not be impressed by Ninkasi? They're fixin' to topple a brewery with a couple of decades on them, an alliance in three states for distribution, and AB/Unibev on their side. Of course that could just mean that Widmer has bigger fish to fry, nationwide. But this Portland native would be perfectly happy to be represented by Bend and Eugene as the pride of the big boys.

  9. Whoops, I always forget the loadedorygun account has "Carla" fixed in it. It's Torridjoe talking.

  10. Awaiting Boneyard in containers or containers. Excellent beer. Of course, if the remainder of Worthy's line-up can be anything such as its IPA, expect to find out them out there soon.
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