10 Greatest Microbrews In America
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Until as recently as almost a decade ago, most people in Europe considered the idea of American beer as little more than a joke. While there were already a handful of good microbreweries in the U.S., and a smattering of people who had enjoyed the variety of beers available in Germany, Belgium and Great Britain on their travels, most still believed that beer was, by nature, a cold, gassy, tasteless delivery system for oblivion.
That's all changed now, and, as I've traveled around the U.S. over the last few years, I've found that every town with a stoplight has at least one pub selling beers from a regional microbrewery.
It's still a youthful industry and not all the beers are great (I have yet to develop a taste for the viciously over-hopped IPAs that are all the rage in California), but craft beer is here to stay, and I am all for it.
Here are 10 of the best craft breweries I have encountered on my U.S. adventures.
10. Allagash Brewing Company
Portland, Maine An “old hand” at craft brewing, this New England-based company has been in the game for almost 20 years. In that time it has become one of the most famous names in the business, particularly for its interpretations of traditional Belgian beers. Beer To Try: Allagash White.
Arnaudville, Louisiana Increasingly, beer is being brewed not just to be enjoyed in its own right, but also as a complement to the food in the region in which it is made. There is no better example than the Bayou Teche Brewing Company in Arnaudville, Louisiana. In its relatively short lifespan (it has been around since only 2009), it has created a small range of four beers that work perfectly with the food of Southern Louisiana. Beer To Try: Passione.
8. Bozeman Brewing Company
Bozeman, Montana Montana is home to over 32 breweries, and, while I can’t claim to have tried them all, this small brewery is definitely one of my favorites. It was started in 2001 as a labor of love for its owners, and has been making consistently good brews ever since. They have also recently started selling craft beer in cans. Beer To Try: Pinhead Pils.
Brooklyn, NY One of the granddaddies of the U.S. craft brewing scene, Brooklyn Brewery has been up and running since 1984. Since then, it has established a worldwide reputation for its beers and its brewmaster, Garret Oliver, has traveled the world to spread the word about real beer. Beer To Try: Brooklyn Lager.
Santa Fe, New Mexico The range produced by Blue Corn is hardly groundbreaking. But on a visit, I was impressed by just how well the beers created by John Bullard were made and just how well they complemented the food served at the brewery’s café. Sometimes doing the simple things well is worthy of praise, and these beers definitely are. Beer To Try: Atalaya Amber Ale.
5. The Great Divide Brewing Company
Denver, Colorado Given that it is the home of the Great American Beer Festival, it is no surprise that Denver has some of the best craft beer in the country. There is so much good stuff on offer that it is hard to just pick one brewery. But if you put a gun to my head, I would probably name The Great Divide Brewing Company, not least because its tap room is one of my favorite places in the city. Beer To Try: Yeti Imperial Stout.
4. Boulevard Brewing Company
Kansas City, Missouri Boulevard is one of the longest running specialty beer makers in the U.S. and is also now the largest of its type in the Midwest. Despite its size, it still makes some of my favorite beers in the country, and I have downed more than a few bottles while touring the legendary barbecue joints of Kansas City. Beer To Try: Unfiltered Wheat Beer.
Escondido, California Now one of the largest of the craft breweries, Stone’s facility in California attracts many visitors, both for its brewery tours and for the food served at its tasting rooms and bistro. As well as the year-round releases, the brewery also produces a number of eagerly awaited limited editions that are well worth seeking out online. Beer To Try: Arrogant Bastard.
Dexter, Michigan A brewery with a deserved reputation, Jolly Pumpkin has become one of the most respected breweries in the country for its barrel-aged beers and process of open fermentation. It is still, I believe, the only brewery to age every beer it makes in bourbon and wine barrels, and was right at the forefront of the current trend for sour beers. Beer To Try: Oro de Calabaza.
1. The American Brewing Company
Edmonds, Washington I have a soft spot for this particular Northwest brewer, because I am actually making a beer with it for my new book, Fed, White & Blue. Even if I wasn’t, I would still be a huge fan of the beers produced by brewing legend and beer purist Skip Madsen. They are characterized by a crisp clean finish and go well on their own or with food. Beer To Try: Caboose Oatmeal Stout.