Wachusett Brewing now the 43rd largest U.S. craft brewery

BY Zachary Comeau

Photo | Zachary Comeau
Photo | Zachary Comeau
Former Guinness Brewer Fergal Murray and Wachusett Brewing Co. President Christian McMahan enjoy a glass of Fergal's Honey Blonde.

Westminster’s Wachusett Brewing Co. is again climbing the ranks of the country’s largest craft brewers, jumping six spots to become the 43rd largest in the U.S as the brewery begins to launch a new line of hard seltzers and hard ciders.
The list, compiled by the national trade group Brewers Association, ranks the breweries by sales volume.
Last year, the brewery found itself on the list for the first time at No. 49.
Wachusett remains the only Central Massachusetts brewer on the list, but it is joined by others from Massachusetts, including Boston Beer Co. at No. 2 and Harpoon Brewery at No. 18.
According to Wachusett President Christian McMahan, the brewery produced 68,000 barrels in 2018 compared to 64,000 a year prior.
The majority of that business, McMahan said, was in Central Massachusetts, which continues to be the 24-year-old brewery’s most lucrative market.
He credited Auburn-based Atlas Distributing with that growth.
“They continue to do the best possible job for us,” he said.
The brewery is expecting 2019 to go down in the books as a potentially explosive year as it prepares to relaunch its line of hard seltzers and the release of Wachusett’s first line of hard ciders.
Wachusett next week is relaunching its hard seltzer line Nauti Seltzer in Central Massachusetts markets. The new formula is gluten free, in smaller cans and contains only 100 calories per can.
“We’ve created what we now believe to be the best-tasting hard seltzer on the market,” McMahan said of tapping into that fast-growing market.
Another version of that product will be the Extra Nauti Seltzer, which is nearly double the alcohol-by-volume content at 8 percent. Those drinks will be packaged in 19.2-ounce cans. 
Within the next 30 days, the brewery will launch Fifty Trees Cider, its first line of hard ciders. An original cider and a cranberry flavor will be available to begin the new venture. 
“That will be a major part of our brand moving forward,” McMahan said.