The association is a nonprofit trade group that tabulates production statistics for U.S. breweries. Its rankings are based on 2011 beer sales, and broken into Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies and Top 50 Overall Brewing Companies. Big Sky made the former, ahead of well-known outfits like Gordon Biersch (40th), Breckenridge (41st) and Anderson Valley (50th). Boston Beer Co., the makers of Sam Adams, placed first among craft breweries and fifth overall.
There is a second local connection to the craft brewing list: Four Peaks Brewing, which tied Anderson for 50th and is located in Tempe, Ariz., was started in part by the same fine folks who created Tamarack Brewing Co. The beer recipes are reportedly different, but discerning customers will note that Tamarack's food menus in Lakeside and Missoula are almost identical to the one you'll find at Four Peaks.