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Yee-Haw produced most craft beer in East Tennessee during 2016

Zach Vance • Jun 5, 2017 at 6:03 PM

Over 3.8 million 12-ounce bottles. 

That’s roughly the amount of beer Yee-Haw Brewing Co. produced out of its Johnson City brewery in 2016.

Equal to 11,500 barrels or 23,000 kegs of beer, Yee-Haw Brewing’s total easily tops the production of any craft brewery located in East Tennessee and ranks fourth in the state, according to statistics compiled by The Brewers Association, a national trade organization that represents small and independent craft brewers.

“We’re just proud to have been able to get our beer in the hands of as many people as we have in the last year. To be able to do all that out of Johnson City makes it extra special,” Yee-Haw co-owner Joe Baker said.

Nashville’s Yazoo Brewing Co. ranked first in Tennessee with over 24,000 barrels produced between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, easily twice that of Yee-Haw’s total, while Memphis’ Wiseacre Brewing Co. took second with 19,000 barrels. 

Smoky Mountain Brewery, with locations in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, is the second largest craft beer producer in East Tennessee with about 7,250 barrels. 

Regardless of ranking, Yee-Haw Brewing’s production grew by 123 percent compared to last year’s numbers, according to spokesman Jeremy Walker. 

Baker said the expeditious growth of his beer has been a bit unexpected. 

“We just hoped to make good beer and share it with as many folks as we could,” Baker said. 

“The way it has been received has been nothing short of wonderful, not just for us as a business, but for some of the people who are working in the business. There’s a lot of effort that goes into making good beer. I’m just proud of the team for working so hard to make it the best we can.”  

Within the last year, Yee-Haw expanded its footprint into the Nashville area, and now, the Johnson City-based beer is even being served at Bridgestone Arena, where thousands have descended this week to watch the Nashville Predators compete in the Stanley Cup Finals.

“I”m certainly proud to be able to say that Yee-Haw is being served there at the game, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a lot more concerned about what we do right there around the Tri-Cities,” said Baker, while traveling Monday to Bridgestone Arena for the Game 4 matchup. 

Since opening in July 2015, Yee-Haw has expanded its four flagship beers, the Pilsner, the Pale Ale, the Eighty Shilling Scottish ale and the Dunkel dark lager, to over 1,000 points of distribution throughout the Tri-Cities, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville and some areas of Southwest Virginia.  

On a national scale, over 5,300 craft breweries represent about 12.3 percent of the overall beer industry’s market share by volume, The Brewers Association reports.

In 2016 alone, craft brewers collectively produced 24.6 million barrels of beer, which was a 6 percent rise in volume compared the year prior. 

The top 50 craft brewers of 2016 in the United States based on volume were primarily clustered around California, Oregon and the Northeast region, according to The Brewers Association.

No brewery in Tennessee made the top 50 list, and only one, SweetWater Brewing Co., was even located in the Southeast.

Top 5 Craft Breweries by Production in Tennessee Location No. of Barrels
Yazoo Brewing Company Nashville 24,300
Wiseacre Brewing Company Memphis 19,000
Blackstone Brewing Company Nashville 14,270*
Yee-Haw Brewing, LLC.  Johnson City 11,500
Smoky Mountain Brewery Gatlinburg 7,250*

* indicates figures were estimated

Information Courtesy of The Brewers Association

Email Zach Vance at zvance@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Zach Vance on Twitter at @ZachVanceJCP. Like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/ZachVanceJCP.

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