Wednesday, April 16, 2008

25 Best Microbreweries in the U.S.

from: Drinking Across America: A Look at the 25 Best Microbreweries in the Country | Travelhacker

    1. Anchor Brewing Company: San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Company offers a beer experience that you just don’t see often these days. It’s made in a gorgeous brewery modeled after traditional, historic brewhouses. Because of this, each brew is “virtually handmade,” a quality that beer lovers are sure to appreciate. Their most famous beer is Anchor Steam, which has a uniquely rich flavor. Make a reservation to tour their brewery and see how beer is made in this brewery that embraces the brewhouses of old.
    2. Full Sail Brewing Company: The “specialists in the liquid refreshment arts” at Full Sail are “stoked to brew,” and it shows through their beers. This employee owned brewery in Oregon is home to award-winning beers like the Full Sail Amber, IPA, LTD and Wassail, which all picked up a gold medal at this year’s World Beer Championships. Even better, the brewery is located (and open for tours) in Hood River Oregon, a gorgeous little surf town that’s a favorite of windsurfers and skiiers alike.
    3. Real Ale Brewing Company: Located in the Texas Hill Country, Real Ale is a nice place to stop by if you’re on a scenic drive. They use the nearby Blanco river for brewing water, which Owner Brad Farbstein touts as “some of the best brewing water for the styles of beer that we make.” Their tours and tasting hours are on Friday afternoons, making a stop by the brewery a great way to kick off your weekend with a good quality beer.
    4. Stone Brewing Company: Stone brews “big character” beers, like their intensely strong Arrogant Bastard Ale, which, by the way, you’re not worthy to drink. The brewery has a restaurant and beer garden in which you’re free to enjoy their tasty brews.
    5. Saint Arnold: Beer lovers, from connoisseurs to frat boys, love to visit Saint Arnold’s. Why? Their tours are essentially a beer drinking free-for-all party. Held every Saturday at 1, visitors are treated to a history of beer and the brewery, followed by a celebration with free flowing taps and a fun ambiance. Spend one of four tokens to fill a glass, whether it’s a small one provided with the tour, or a large glass purchased from the brewery. Some of their best-loved brews include the Brown Ale, which offers a slight hint of chocolate pudding, and the Fancy Lawnmower, a beer that won the Kolsch gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival this year.
    6. Redstone Meadery: The Redstone Meadery is unlike any of the other breweries on this list, as they create something completely different. Redstone’s tiny brewery puts out honey wine, or mead, an ancient beverage enjoyed by drinkers from Vikings to Beowulf. Six of their meads won medals at the International Mead Festival, including their 2002 Reserve and Sunshine Nectar, which earned Gold. Just the meadery’s aroma is enough to turn you on to their brews: a visit to their facility is sure to be sweet.
    7. Avery Brewing: Avery brews perhaps some of the hoppiest beers in Colorado. As “big beer” lovers, this family owned brewery’s team of hopheads creates intensely flavored brews that are favorites among beer afficionados. Just think of your favorite brewery’s specialty ale: nearly every one of their beers is just as big and robust. These beers are sure to please, as is a visit to the brewery, where you can sample all of their creations and even try cask ales that you can’t find anywhere else.
    8. Flying Dog Brewery: Flying Dog Brewery takes the cool prize. These brewers used to be friends and neighbors with Hunter S. Thompson, and use artist Ralph Steadman for all of their labels. But their excellence doesn’t stop there. They have some truly awesome beers, ranging from the Horn Dog barley wine to the In Heat Wheat. If you tour the brewery, you’ll have a chance to drink a fresh brew straight from the fermenter, and even check out the unique whiskey distillery next door.
    9. Left Hand Brewing: Left Hand’s philosophy is all about balance: of fun activities and of great beer. They work towards a perfect balance of malt and hops, a process that’s evident in all of their beers. This year alone, they’ve raked in 9 awards for their brews, including their intriguing Juju Ginger Ale, which was awarded Best of the Rockies in the Spiced Beer category at the US Beer Tasting Championships.
    10. Dogfish Head: Dogfish has some strong, special brews that hopheads are sure to love. They have a line of time-hopped IPAs, ranging from 60 to 120 minutes. They also have a complex Raison D’Etre, which was voted American Beer of the Year by Malt Advocate Magazine in 2000, and the Midas Touch Golden Elixir, a beverage that showcases ingredients that were found in drinking vessels in King Midas’ tomb. Check out both their brewery and brewpub if you’re in the Delaware area.
    11. New Belgium Brewery: For New Belgium, like many others, brewing is a labor of love. From delivering beer by station wagon to becoming the country’s first brewery to subscribe to wind-generated electricity, this brewery has a rich history and rich beers to match. Their Belgian-inspired brews are a treat, particularly the Sunshine Wheat, a refreshing hefeweizen with a citrus bouquet.
    12. Rahr and Sons Brewing Company: Rahr & Sons is a family owned brewery in North Texas. The brews are only available in Texas, but they’ve won national awards. Rahr’s Blonde Lager, Ugly Pug, and Summertime Wheat have all been recognized at the US Beer Tasting Championships.
    13. Redhook: Redhook’s beers “defy ordinary.” Their flagship beer, the ESB, or extra special biiter, is styled after bitters served in England. They have recently merged with Widmer Brothers Brewing Company, the brewers credited with bringing the hefeweizen to America.
    14. The Lost Abbey: The Lost Abbey has beers for saints and sinners alike, offering beers modeled after the brews created by monks in Belgium as well as numerous other styles. At the Great American Beer Festival this year, The Lost Abbey took home three medals, and was crowned the nations’ best small brewery.
    15. Rogue Brewery: Rogue’s founders fled the corporate life in favor of the food and beverage industry. Significant brews include the Brew 10,000, which was brewed in a limited batch using ultra premium ingredients, and the Chipotle Ale, dedicated to Spanish author Juan de la Cueva. Most recently, their Imperial Stout took a Bronze medal at this year’s Great American Beer Festival, and Shakespeare Stout took Guld at the Stockholm Beer & Whiskey Festival.
    16. Russian River Brewing Company: Russian River is an example of what happens when a skilled champagne company, in this case Korbel, tries their hand at brewing beer. It’s now owned by a husband and wife team and has won numerous awards, from gold medals for individual beers to Champion Brewery and Brewmaster. Their adventuous beers include a double IPA and wine barrel-aged ales.
    17. Lagunitas: Lagunitas prides themselves on “steadily losing less money each month,” a feat achieved by the growing popularity of their quality beers. From their Imperial Stout to seasonal ales like the Lagunator, you’re sure to find something tasty.
    18. Allagash Brewing Company: Allagash started out brewing a Belgian Wit beer, Allagash White, and has expanded to a variety of bottle conditioned beers. This involves a second fermentation in the bottles after the initial fermenting in tanks. It adds an air of complexity to the beers, and the novelty of drinking a “living” beer.
    19. New Glarus Brewing Company: New Glarus was founded by Deborah Carey, the first woman to found and operate a brewery. They have recently moved to New Glarus, Wisconsin, and their facility, currently under construction, is designed to look like an old-world Switzerland town square. Their most popular brew is the Spotted Cow, a blonde ale. Also notable is the Wisconsin Belgian Red, which has won a number of awards worldwide. Last year, New Glarus took the Midsize Brewery of the Year award at the Great American Beer Festival.
    20. Deschutes Brewery: Deschutes is located on the banks of the Deschutes river, offering a small brewpub and specialty brewing facility. They have a number or unique beers, from the Obsidian stout to the Jubelale.
    21. Big Sky Brewing: Big Sky “makes water fun” by pouring their hearts into every beer. Their beer sells in thirteen states, most popularly in Montana. Their brews include Moose Drool, Scape Goat, and Big Sky IPA.
    22. Harpoon Brewery: Harpoon is one of the largest craft breweries in New England, due in large part to their great beer. Located in both Massachusetts and Vermont, they’ve been a large part of the rebirth of microbrewing. They’re best known for the Harpoon India Pale Ale, but their Munich Dark, hefeweizens, and brown are not to be missed.
    23. Great Divide Brewing Company: Great Divide, based in downtown Denver, offers a number of challenging beers. The most popular is the Denver Pale Ale, followed closely by the Hibernation ale. So far, they’ve collected twelve awards from the Great American Beer Festival. They have since ventured into “big beer” territory, producing beers like the Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout and Hercules Double IPA.
    24. Independence: Independence’s Rob Cartwright started out brewing beer with his mom at the tender age of 14. Since then, he’s brewed beers for both personal consumption and hand-crafted style. This Austin beer offers loads of flavor and easy drinking. Independence beers include the seasonal Jasperilla Old Ale, Bootlegger Brown Ale, and Freestyle Wheat Beer.
    25. Bear Republic Brewing Company: In the heart of wine country, Bear Republic offers an award winning beer experience. Ingredients at Bear Republic are hand-selected, and recipes are developed over several years. Their Racer 5, Red Rocket, and Heritage ales have been recipients of gold, silver, and bronze medals. This brewery was awarded the Great American Beer Festival’s Small Brewing Company of the Year.


Anonymous said...

New Glarus Brewing Company didn't "recently" move to New Glarus. The operation has been in tiny little New Glarus, Wisconsin for more than 20 years. And while you are correct that they took the Midsize Brewery of the Year award at the Great American Beer Festival, it seems odd that they only mustered 18th place on your list.

Anonymous said...

Where is Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, OH? That's one of the single best microbreweries in this country!