Real Ale among the 50 top producing craft breweries in the U.S.

Photo by Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. Real Ale’s Firemans #4, left, is easily the brewery’s most sold beer in Texas, allowing it to branch out and offer a wide range of beers.

Real Ale Brewing, in the Texas Hill Country, was named 49th on a list of the top producing 50 craft breweries in the U.S. — a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that Real Ale, turning 21 next month, still produces beers for 100 percent distribution in Texas.

The Brewers Association, the trade group that represents the country’s small and independent breweries, released the list yesterday with numbers based on beer sales volume: how much beer each of the producers sell each year.

Also representing Texas on the list is Gambrinus, the producer of Shiner beers, at number five. Oskar Blues Brewery, which has an Austin operation that opened last year in addition to breweries in Colorado and North Carolina, rounded out the top 10.

But Real Ale, remarkably, is only one of two breweries on the list that distributes only to its home state. That’s a purposeful decision for owner Brad Farbstein, who said in an American-Statesman article last year about the brewery’s 20th anniversary that Texas still provides “more opportunities for us to expand. It’s not the way every brewer does it, but we do it the way we feel is the right way.”

The brewery’s Firemans #4, a blonde ale, accounts for a good 60 percent of its total output, which last year was about 61,000 barrels of beer annually.

Next month, Real Ale plans to launch its long-awaited line of spirits, called Real Spirits, as well as celebrate its 21st anniversary with (but what else?) a birthday kegger. Tickets for the party are on sale now and include four beers, a raffle ticket for a custom Real Ale kegerator, and access to a day of live music and food at the brewery.

For more information, visit realalebrewing.com.

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