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Firestone Walker part of 6th-largest craft brewery in U.S.

Bottles of 805 move to cases on the bottling line at Firestone Walker Brewing Co. in Paso Robles.
Bottles of 805 move to cases on the bottling line at Firestone Walker Brewing Co. in Paso Robles. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

By joining forces with Duvel Moortgat, Firestone Walker Brewing Co. is part of what’s now the sixth-largest craft brewery in the United States, according to Brewers Association rankings based on 2016 beer sales volume.

The ranking reflects aggregated sales across the Duvel family, including the Paso Robles-based Firestone, Kansas City-based Boulevard Brewing Co., and Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York, which was founded by the Belgian-based Duvel in 1997.

Before the merger in 2015, Firestone was ranked as the nation’s 13th largest craft brewery, with Duvel two spots behind at No. 15.

“A handful of years ago we had a company party and decided to set ourselves some goals — one of those was to be a top 10 American craft brewer one day,” Firestone co-founder David Walker said. “At the time, we all felt it was a stretch. It obviously doesn’t hurt to dream a little.”

Among all U.S. breweries, including corporate giants Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, the company now ranks 12th, and sits behind only Chico-based Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in California. Sales figures were not released as part of the ranking.

“With such a broad range of brewers in today’s beer landscape, the leading small and independent producers have helped build the craft brewing industry to what it is today,” Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association, said in a news release. “Embracing their experience and ability to thrive and overcome challenges, the top-producing craft brewers will continue to inspire, innovate and influence the future of beer.”

Firestone Walker Brewing Co. headbrewer Dustin Kral talks about what the upcoming 805 region's area code changes mean to the brewery, which brews the popular 805 beer.

Sally Buffalo writes about wine, beer and spirits. Reach her at sallybuffalo@gmail.com or on Twitter @sallybuffalo.

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