We’re Actually Still Pretty Small

An interesting thing happens as a business like ours grows, some people stop wanting to support it, simply because of that growth. I’m not sure what principle is at play, but I think it has something to do with not being cool any longer because we are too mainstream which to me implies, we are too big.

I have heard this before but I experienced it firsthand recently when I was invited out on a team sales mission. We were in and out of bars all day long, sampling beers out and talking about what Iron Horse had to offer. One bar in particular caught my attention. The buyer at this particular bar said “we used to buy Iron Horse beer but Iron Horse is too large now.” I was a little surprised by this. We’re a decent sized regional brewery but I was looking at their tap lineup and seeing breweries of a larger size than ours. So I started whining and complaining about the pain of our own success. Just kidding, but it is a challenge that I hadn’t really considered while we were out trying to sell all the beer we could make over the last 10 years. It’s also something that I figure I would try to first dismiss with facts.

Here are breweries that are larger than we are measured by 2016 total barrels of beer produced in all the states we are currently distributed.

Iron Horse 21,989

Alaskan Brewing 154,300

Big Sky Brewing 40,000

Boneyard Beer 27,308

Deschutes Brewery 374,313

Fremont 30,400

Full Sail 115,450

Georgetown 53,575

Mac and Jacks 40,524

McMenamins 23,640

Ninkasi 99,685

Rogue 105,108


My goal in writing this is to put in perspective the actual size of Iron Horse relative to the largest breweries in our region, not to ‘out’ the bigger breweries, since even Deschutes is absolutely dwarfed by the mega-producers. I would and do gladly pay my money to buy beer from all the breweries on this list as well as those further down the list that are smaller. 

Now these don’t include sold out breweries such as

Hop Valley (millercoors)

Elysian (anheuser busch)

Pyramid (north american breweries)

Red Hook (craft brew alliance)

Widmer (craft brew alliance)

10 Barrel (anheuser busch)

Because they aren’t reporting to the Brewers Association separate from their corporate overlords and why should they, they aren’t separate.

And for perspective on just how much we are dwarfed, Anheuser-Busch Inbev, just North America sold 99,585,738 barrels in 2016 which is about one fourth of their total global sales and these numbers probably include Goose Island Brewery, Blue Point, 10 Barrel, Elysian Brewing Company, Golden Road Brewing, Four Peaks Brewery, Breckenridge Brewery, Devils Backbone Brewing Company, Karbach Brewing Company, and Wicked Weed Brewing production).

As often happens with a blog, I find a greater purpose or meaning in writing it. What is that greater purpose I am sure you are dying to know? Know your beer and your brewery and if you care about local communities and local companies stop buying beer from the super-mega breweries like ABI and Molsoncoors and their deceptive ‘craft’ brands and buy more beer from the mega breweries like Iron Horse. But if we are just too large for you, let me know and I will do my next blog on what breweries are smaller than us in our region.


6 comments on “We’re Actually Still Pretty SmallAdd Your Comment

  1. Jen on

    Here’s why I think you are too big for yourselves…i used to come from Seattle a few times a year when you had the small taproom in the industrial park. The gal running it always remembered us and treated us like locals. Once you moved in town, it became like you had to be a local to get good service in your taproom. Three times and I’m out-not a fluke. I dont make the trip anymore…there are plenty of other small breweries, as you mentioned, that appreciate my dollars and my time.

    • Greg Parker Greg Parker on

      i am sorry to have lost you as a fan of the brewery. we certainly don’t make it a policy to make people feel excluded. in fact we aim to give great service to everyone who crosses our threshold but sadly we fall short every once in a while. while we would love to have you back as a fan and customer, our organizational purpose is to spread the magic of independent craft beer so i can safely say that we are happy that you continue to experience the magic of independent craft beer at the other great breweries in our region. keep up the indie craft beer love!

  2. Ann Harris on


    This is sad indeed. I have been in mourning since March when I moved to Kansas (temporary but of unknown length). Finding any decent beer has been a massive challenge and so far the best I can do is one liquor store that sells Moose Drool. And believe me I was damned grateful to find it. I suppose there is no hope Irish Death is available anywhere in this state? I can’t give you any great arguments for doing it as I find the state to be largely without taste of any kind, in any category. If you ask for a craft beer in a sports bar you get a look of total incomprehension, followed by an offer of Bud Lite. I’ve explained that this is not beer, leave alone a craft beer. The usual response is “You’re not from around here.” my usual reply is “Thank the Gods for that!”

    I MISS you guys and hope you get bigger and never sell out to the fat cats.

  3. Jacqueline on

    I found Irish Death tonight at a little place called Barley Pub in Boise, Idaho. Pretty cool.

  4. Conrad on

    That seems silly to me. Even though they are big by craft standards, I happily buy Deschutes. But Elysian and co. are blacklisted.


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