Dogfish Head moved up two spots on the 2017 list of the nation’s largest brewers.
The Milton-based craft brewer now ranks as the 12th largest craft brewer, up two spots from 2016, according to the annual list from the Brewers Association. Pottsville, PA-based Yuengling ranked No. 1
Dogfish head also ranked in the top 25 among all types of brewers in the U.S.
One spot behind Dogfish was Craft Brew Alliance, the combination of Chester County, PA’s Victory Brewing with a New York craft beer company. Craft Brew Alliance was one spot ahead of Dogfish in 2016.
Of the top 50 overall brewing companies, 40 were small and independent craft brewing companies.
“In an increasingly competitive and mature marketplace, these brewing companies continue to lead and pave the path for small and independent craft brewers,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, of the Brewers Association.
Dogfish’s gains came as some of its larger craft brewers and the majors struggled with a slowdown in sales and in some cases overly aggressive expansion efforts that included new breweries.
Taking a piece of the market are “hyperlocal” craft brewers who sell their offerings out of tasting rooms or in a limited geographic area.
Beers from Mexico are also seeing a sales surge with Constellation Brands posting strong gains with its Corona brews. Constellation, which also has holdings in distilled beverages and wine, has also bought craft brewers
Dogfish, despite its East Coast location and growing competition, has not added a second brewery or relied too much on one brand.
Several years ago, the brewer faced construction constraints and cut states from its sales territory. A project that added production at the Milton brewery was completed and the expansion resumed
The brewery’s growth has been aided by a new canning line and a strong launch for its SeaQuench sour beer.
Dogfish continues to issue limited edition beer. One offering was based on a Peruvian beverage that used corn that was first chewed by company staff.
Dogfish Head operates two restaurants in Rehoboth Beach, a craft distilling operation and an inn in Lewes.
A couple of years ago, a 15 percent stake in the company was sold to a private equity firm in preparation for stiffer competition.