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Lagunitas now No. 5 craft brewer

Petaluma's growing Lagunitas Brewing became the fifth-largest craft brewer in the United States last year, one of four North Coast breweries among nation's 50 biggest indie beer producers, a trade group reported Monday.

Lagunitas produced more than 500,000 barrels last year, or about 15.5 million gallons, up from 161,000 three years ago. Just last week, the brewery opened a second plant, this time in Chicago, that should enable it to make more than 1 million barrels.

Last year, it was ranked sixth on the list published by the Brewers Association, but its growth propelled it past Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Ore., to the fifth spot. Founder Tony Magee downplayed the significance of the list, though he described it as "nice to see."

"Every day I am just trying to do the work and live up to the opportunities that are out there," he said. "And having fun doing it."

The Brewers Association report ranks craft breweries by sales volume. The term "craft" is defined by the association, in part, as independently-owned breweries producing less than 6 million barrels per year. It excludes major brewing companies such as Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors and smaller breweries with large corporate ownership, such as Mendocino Brewing, which is largely owned by an Indian brewing conglomerate.

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