Barley Mowat 

BC Breweries By Production

with 8 comments

I’m obsessed with numbers, and as such I was very curious about finding out what the annual production for all our local breweries is. While this is generally published in the US as a sign of pride, in British Columbia the micros tend to keep this info fairly well guarded.

I suppose the implication is that big=bad, and while historically those two things have been strongly correlated, the rise of such huge breweries as Dogfish Head, Boulevard, and Deschutes have shown that it is possible to grow large while still producing good, nay, excellent beer.

However, with the locals keeping their mouths closed we’re stuck, right? Well, not really. You see, the LDB is a government body, and government bodies tend to publish their budgets as a matter of course. As part of that budget, the LDB also publishes the amount of money it pays out to breweries in BC. Since all beer sold in BC must first, by law, be sold to the LDB, these numbers are a decent indication of brewery size.

Using a few breweries that were willing to (privately) give me their production numbers as a starting point, I took these payout numbers and produced a best guess as to brewery production.


  • See that word “guess” up there? That’s what these numbers are. If breweries would like to give me the real numbers, I’d be happy to correct them.
  • The value that seems to best translate dollars to hectolitres for my control breweries is $325. Obviously this is a very rough guess. Draught-only producers will have their production adjusted higher, while bottle-focused producers will be lower.
  • Yes, the final production numbers smell like ass because that’s precisely where I got them from.
  • Because of the craziness of shadow brands and contract brewing, it’s hard to split out some of these numbers. OK Spring, in particular, also produces Sleeman locally, and those sales are blended in.
  • Hoyne is a complete guesstimate, as they had not completed a full year of brewing when these numbers were issued. I’ve adjusted their numbers up to account for this, but who knows how their year went.
  • Some breweries are missing, including: Coal Harbour, Steamworks, Townsite, Parallel 49 amoung others. I have no idea why.
  • I have excluded Labatt’s (Kokanee) simply because it would be impossible to seperate out beer produced in-province from imports.
  • Likewise, I have skipped Mark Anthony Group (Turning Point/Stanley Park) because most of their money comes from wine (Mission Hill)
  • Breweries with no distribution to speak of (mostly brewpubs) have been dropped from the list.

Fun facts:

  • The largest producer in BC is not Molson, as many might have guessed, but rather OK Spring–by a lot.
  • Consider this. The three US producers I mentioned above have these production values:
    • Deschutes: 258,000 hl
    • Dogfish Head: 88,000 hl
    • Boulevard: 184,000 hl
  • Lots of breweries run under slightly different names on the books.
    • Red Truck is Avalon
    • Tree is Fireweed
    • Kamloops, Bowen and Whistler are all shadow brands for Northram
    • Barley Station is Shuswap Lake Brewing
    • Tofino is Tuff City Brewing
    • Steamworks is Quarterdeck (or rather was, they no longer appear in the 2012 numbers)
  • It’s a good time to be a brewer. Virtually all breweries are seeing large year-over-year growth in sales. Except Molson. And Granville Island. Also note I said sales, not profits.
  • Driftwood is by far the fastest growing brewery since 2009. How fast? They’re doing 16x the sales of just four years ago. Second place goes to Phillips at 3.2x.
  • If Driftwood somehow were to continue their extreme rate of growth, they will be the largest brewery in BC in two years. 🙂
  • Since 2009, over 150,000 hl of new market has been created in BC. Of that new market Pac West has grabbed 33% and OK Spring 24%, meaning there’s some truth to there being room to grow slightly up market from macro (Molson lost 32,000hl of market in the same period).
  • Next in relative new growth are Phillips at 16% and Driftwood at 5%. Despite Driftwood’s 16x growth, they were a much smaller brewery 5 years ago than Phillips.

Brewery Income Production (hl)
Red Truck 985213 3000
Cannery 1238733 3500
Central City 2508961 7500
Crannog 332799 1100
Dead Frog 1680211 5250
Driftwood 2653713 8100
Fernie 1134768 3400
Tree 5415175 16500
Granville Island 24732615 76000
Gulf Islands 308883 750
Howe Sound 1924350 5500
Hoyne 391032 1000
Lighthouse 4684083 14250
Molson 57240081 175000
Moon Under Water 67124 150
Mt Begbie 1484419 4000
Nelson 2383267 7000
Northram 10469291 31000
OK Spring 93446929 285000
Pacific Western 32725605 95000
Phillips 12142566 35500
Plan B 107520 400
R&B Brewing 1428113 4300
Russell Brewing 3682097 11000
Spinnakers 179447 500
Storm Brewing 375628 1300
Tin Whistle 472565 1350
Tofino 360314 1200
Vancouver Island 7689047 23500
Wolf Brewing 217347 650

Written by chuck

October 26th, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Breweries

8 Responses to 'BC Breweries By Production'

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  1. It’s kind of surprising to see that Deschutes is smaller than OK Springs, given that they’re the 5th biggest craft brewer in the US.


    26 Oct 12 at 21:24

  2. Of all the ways to sort that table, you chose alphabetically?


    26 Oct 12 at 21:52

  3. Oops, just clicked on the header. Withdrawn.


    26 Oct 12 at 21:53

  4. Not that this makes any difference to anything that you wrote, or reasons for skipping them, but Mark Anthony Group’s money comes from Mike’s Hard Lemonade (which was used for Mission Hill).


    3 Nov 12 at 15:56

  5. @R An excellent point. Let no one ever say there’s no money in alco-pop.


    3 Nov 12 at 16:32

  6. This is really, interesting, Chuck. I’ve wondered about production numbers for a while. I’m surprised OK Spring is that big, but I’ll admit I thought some breweries were bigger than they are, such as Tree, Howe Sound, and even Central City. It will be interesting to see how much Central City grows after their new facility opens, as well as where P49 fits in once they get a full year under their belts.

    Joe Wiebe

    6 Nov 12 at 13:59

  7. @Joe Yup, some of those numbers surprised me as well, but they all do generally line up with the brewery capabilities based upon my visits.

    A note on Howe Sound: I have recently heard from them directly that they are now producing ~300hl per WEEK. That’s about 15,000 hl per annum, or 3x their volume listed here.

    I am to incorporate this list into my big ole list of BC Breweries in the near future, and will update everything then.


    6 Nov 12 at 14:08

  8. […] sat down and did all the math on this last year based on some inside info from a couple of breweries. Looking back, though, I feel those numbers […]

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