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It’s official: Ballast Point now San Diego’s largest brewery

Ballast Point overtakes Stone to become San Diego County’s largest brewery in the list released by the Brewers Association, a Colorado-based industry group.

A variety of canned and bottled beers at Ballast Point Tasting Room & Kitchen in San Diego’s Little Italy. (K.C. Alfred/Union-Tribune)

It’s official: Ballast Point has overtaken Stone to become San Diego County’s largest brewery.

The Brewers Association, a Colorado-based industry group, on Wednesday released its annual lists of the nation’s top 50 breweries and top 50 craft breweries by production.

“Craft breweries” are defined as small (annually making 6 million barrels or less), independent and using traditional methods.

Ballast Point Brewing, once a leader in San Diego’s craft beer community, hasn’t been considered “craft” since Constellation Brands bought it in November 2015. Then, Ballast Point’s reported production was slightly less than that of Escondido’s Stone Brewing.

In this year’s rankings of all U.S. breweries — craft and non-craft — Ballast Point was the 13th largest, while Stone was 17th.

 


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A variety of draft beers at Ballast Point Tasting Room & Kitchen in San Diego’s Little Italy. (K.C. Alfred/Union-Tribune)

Also among the 50 largest American breweries: Miramar’s Green Flash, ranking 46th.

Ballast Point’s growth may have been accelerated by the prowess of Constellation, which markets Corona and Modelo in the U.S. Yet the Miramar brewery’s rise was fueled by its own creation: Sculpin IPA.

Vince Vasquez, a senior analyst with the National University System Institute for Policy Research in San Diego, noted that before selling to Constellation, Ballast Point planned to sell shares to the public. As part of that process, the brewery filed revealing papers with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“When you looked at the data,” Vasquez said, “you saw that the majority of Ballast Point’s sales were in one state and the majority of that was one beer.”

The state: California. The beer? Ballast Point’s tropical India Pale Ale.

“This is the Sculpin economy,” Vasquez said. “That’s well on its way to becoming California’s pre-eminent IPA.”

The Brewers Association also listed the 50 largest U.S. craft breweries, eliminating industrial behemoths like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors.

On this list, San Diego County is represented by Stone, 9th place; Green Flash, 37th; and Karl Strauss, 41st. Gordon Biersch, a San Jose-based chain with a Mission Valley brewery restaurant, is 34th.

Complete lists of the largest U.S. breweries and U.S. craft breweries are at brewersassociation.org.

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