3 MN craft breweries are among the largest in the country

It's a list of the 50 largest craft breweries, and three from Minnesota are on it.
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Three Minnesota breweries are among the largest craft breweries in the country.

The Brewers Association – the national trade association for independent brewers – released its annual list of the top craft brewing companies in the U.S., based on sales volume in 2016.

And this year, Minnesota's breweries climbed a few spots. Minnesota's largest brewery – August Schell Brewing in New Ulm – came in at No. 24 on the list of the country's 50 largest craft breweries, up from No. 27 last year.

St. Paul's Summit Brewing was ranked No. 26 on the list (last year it was No. 29). And for the first time, Surly Brewingwhich has really been increasing its capacity lately – made an appearance on the list at No. 42.

4 breweries cut from the list

Minnesota breweries weren't the only ones to make moves on this year's list. In fact, four breweries got cut from the list – and it's not because other breweries started selling more beer than them.

It's because they just aren't considered "craft" anymore, at least not by the Brewers Association's definition, which requires a brewery be small (annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less); independent (less than 25 percent of the brewery is owned or controlled by a non-craft brewer); and traditional (uses traditional or innovative brewing ingredients).

Those breweries are Lagunitas Brewing (Heineken now owns 50 percent of it); Ballast Point (Constellation Brands owns it now); and both Breckenridge Brewery and Four Peaks Brewing were sold to Anheuser-Busch InBev, Forbes reports.

With the crazy growth in the craft beer industry in recent years, mass-production breweries have been gobbling upsmall, independent breweries. This trend is expected to continue this year, too, which will make it a little tougher to figure out who exactly is making your beer. You can read more about the "illusion of choice" that we could see this year in this story from CraftBeer.com.

And if you want to make sure the beer you're drinking is actually craft, check out this app called Craft Check. It lets you scan the barcode or search by a brewery’s name to find whether it’s an authentic craft brewery or an imitation, based on the Brewers Association definition of craft.

Overall breweries list

The Brewers Association also puts out a list of the top brewing companies that includes craft breweries and the big guys. Of the top 50 brewing companies in the country, 40 of them are considered craft.

Here are the top five brewing companies nationwide:

  1. Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
  2. MillerCoors
  3. Pabst Brewing Co.
  4. D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. (a craft brewery)
  5. North American Breweries

Schells and Summit both made the list at No. 33 and No. 35, respectively. Surly, however, didn't make the list.

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