The Brewers Association today (March 27) released its second annual list of the 50 fastest-growing small and independent craft breweries in the country, with Fifty West Brewing Co. in Cincinnati coming in 49th.
"Fifty would have been a little more fitting being 50 West, but we’ll take 49," co-founder Bobby Slattery said with a laugh. "Anytime you get recognized for all the time and effort you put into something, it’s nice. It’s a hard industry now. Are we doing well? Are we not doing well? When something like this comes out, it makes you feel good about all the hard work you put in."
The brewery, which opened in 2012, saw its production explode last year as it started releasing cans. Fifty West now offers four year-round brands in cans — American Lager, Doom Pedal White Ale, Coast to Coast IPA and Punch You in the EyePA — along with a seasonal. Thanks to the cans, the number of barrels produced doubled to nearly 8,000.
For years, Fifty West had focused on draft only and opted to distribute only in the Cincinnati market.
"We spent all of our time getting handles in the marketplace and having a great brand that matched the beer," Slattery said.
The brewery, which celebrates an outdoors lifestyle and now includes a brewpub and a production brewery/tasting room across the street from each other, is still focusing on the Cincinnati market and the Route 50 corridor. It's projecting 30 percent growth this year.
Fifty West was the only Ohio brewery to make the fastest-growing list. Last year, Cleveland-based Platform Beer Co. and Royal Docks Brewing in suburban Canton made the cut.
The fastest-growing brewery nationwide was Lake Time Brewery in Clear Lake, Iowa.
The Brewers Association, a Boulder, Colo.-based trade group, noted that this year's list saw median growth of 163 percent, or 1,350 barrels. The list features 13 brewpubs, 35 microbreweries and two regional craft brewers.
"Even as market competition continues to increase, these small and independent breweries and brewpubs demonstrate there are still growth opportunities across a diverse set of regions and business models," Brewers Association chief economist Bart Watson said in a prepared statement.
To see the full list, click here.