The Brewers Association has released its Top 50 Craft Breweries list for 2009, and good news for Texas: Saint Arnold has joined Spoetzl on the list. The list is based on sales volume.
Spoetzl (based in Shiner, the maker of Shiner beers) was a given — they ranked fourth in 2008, and held onto that spot in 2009. For overall breweries (including the megacorps), Spoetzl ranks ninth.
This is the debut on the list for Houston's Saint Arnold – they just made the cut at 48th. (Last year they were 51st – d'oh!) Well deserved, too – they rival Austin's Live Oak as my favorite Texas brewery. Rare is the occasion when I leave Austin's Ginger Man Pub without having at least of one of St. Arnold's cask-conditioned Elissa IPAs, and I almost always have at least one variety of St. A in my fridge.
Texas technically had two breweries on the list last year, but one of them was Pete's. Although owned by San Antonio's Gambrinus company (which also owns Spoetzl), Pete's connection to Texas is only financial – the company was founded in California is now contract-brewed in New York.
Congrats to Gambrinus for turning Shiner around from near-extinction back in the 1990s to a brewing powerhouse today, and to St. Arnold for its continuing growth into the consciousness of America's beer lovers.