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Largest microbreweries in America
March 29, 2009 1:53 PM   Subscribe

A map of the top 50 craft breweries in America by volume. State map of per capita beer consumption.

The rankings:
  1. Boston Brewing Company, Boston MA
  2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico CA
  3. New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins CO
  4. Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner TX
  5. Pyramid Brewries, Inc., Seattle, WA
  6. Matt Brewing Company, Utica NY
  7. Deschutes Brewing Company, Bend OR
  8. Boulevard Brewing Company, Kansas City MO
  9. Full Sail Brewing Company, Hood River OR
  10. Harpoon Brewery, Boston MA
  11. Alaskan Brewing and Bottling Company, Juneau AL
  12. Magic Hat Brewing Company and Performing Arts Center, South Burlington VT
  13. Anchor Brewing Company, San Fransisco CA
  14. Bell's Brewery, Inc., Kalamazoo MI
  15. Shipyard Brewing Company, Portland ME
  16. Summit Brewing Company, St. Paul MN
  17. Abita Brewing Company, Abita Springs LA
  18. Gordon Biersch Brewing Company, San Jose CA
  19. Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn NY
  20. Stone Brewing Company, Escondido CA
  21. Rogue Ales, Newport OR
  22. Long Trail Brewing Company, Bridgewater Corners VT
  23. New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus WI
  24. Kona Brewing Company, Kahlua-Kona HI
  25. Dogfish Head Brewing Company, Milton DE
  26. Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles CA
  27. Great Lakes Brewing Company, Cleveland OH
  28. The Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma CA
  29. Flying Dog Brewery, Denver CO
  30. Sweetwater Brewery, Atlanta GA
  31. Bridgeport Brewing Company, Portland OR
  32. Rock Bottom Brewery, Louisville CO
  33. Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins CO
  34. BJ's Restaurant and Brewery, Huntington Beach CA
  35. Victory Brewing Company, Downington PA
  36. Mac and Jack's Brewery, Redmond WA
  37. Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe, Eureka CA
  38. Big Sky Brewing Company, Missoula MT
  39. Pete's Brewing Company, San Antonio TX
  40. Otter Creek Brewing Company, Middlebury VT
  41. Karl Strauss Brewing Company, San Diego CA
  42. Breckenridge Brewing Company, Denver CO
  43. Gordon Biersch Brewery, Chattanooga TN
  44. Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boonville CA
  45. Boulder Beer Company, Boulder CO
  46. North Coast Brewing Company, Fort Bragg CA
  47. McMenamins, Portland OR
  48. Utah Brewer's Cooperative, Salt Lake City UT
  49. Capital Brewing Company, Middleton WI
  50. Blue Point Brewing Company, Patchogue NY
Check out BeerAdvocate for more info about these breweries and their crafts.
posted by baphomet (119 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've enjoyed 20 or so of these 50. Also, this is my 30th post (yay round numbers!), which I'm celebrating with a decidedly non-craft, but still tasty, PBR.
posted by baphomet at 1:55 PM on March 29, 2009


Good post. Just went on my first brewery tour yesterday - Troegs Brewery in Harrisburg, PA. They have some really good brews, and are mostly known for their Mad Elf 11% Christmas beer. So yesterday was fun and then today was my first foray into home brewing. Yay beer! Oh, and a large part of today was also spent looking into constructing a hops trellis in the background to support the hops rhizomes I just ordered. Again, with more spirit: YAY BEER!
posted by billysumday at 1:59 PM on March 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


(in the backyard, not background...)
posted by billysumday at 2:00 PM on March 29, 2009


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 17, 20, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 35, 42, 46. YAY BEER!
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:06 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Frequency by state:
CA: 11
CO: 6
OR: 5
VT, NY: 3
MA, TX, WA, WI: 2
All other states on the list: 1

Lots and lots more beer maps at BeerMapping.
posted by baphomet at 2:08 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have drunk many of these and now consider it a goal to drink them all. Which will be a trick. Most of them aren't distributed out here.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:13 PM on March 29, 2009


Hmm... Are there sources cited? Sorry if I missed them, but Schlafly out of St. Louis has got to rival Boulevard.
posted by Science! at 2:16 PM on March 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I used to travel a lot for my work and would go out of my way to have a local brew where ever I could. Let's see - 23. Looks like I need to get a job that requires a lot more travel to CA.
posted by pomegranate at 2:17 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


What makes a beer a microbrew or craft brew or whatever you call it? BJ's and Gordon Biersch always looked like chain restaurants to me, so I guess I've avoided them without really knowing much about themm. New Glarus is awesome and excellent, but I would never put it and something like Sierra Nevada in the same category given that one is widely available in the US and the other is not sold outside of Wisconsin (as far as I know). Given the scales of availability, it seems some are more mass produced than others.

That said, I would love to be able to get my hands on some of the tasty midwest beers like Capital, Bell's or Great Lakes out here in California.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:23 PM on March 29, 2009


1,2,3,4,6,10,12,13,17,19,21,24,25,29,32,35,39,50, that I know of. I'm actually enjoying a Pete's (39) right now. Additionally, while most of the beer consumption map becomes something like a negative once you switch it to wine consumption, New Hampshire stays near-black. I've got tons of friends from NH, but never knew it's apparently by-far the drunkenest state in the Union.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:24 PM on March 29, 2009


Sorry if I missed them, but Schlafly out of St. Louis has got to rival Boulevard.

I don't think they have the same distribution as Boulevard. Totally anecdotal: I've had Boulevard tons of places outside of Missouri, and never once seen a Schlafly served outside of the state. I'm sure they have to have out-of-state distribution, but for instance I'm just a jump across the southern state line and you can't find it here.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:27 PM on March 29, 2009


Science!: Lower right-hand corner of the map cites Brewer's Association Top 50 List as the source, based on sales volume. Which accounts for why breweries like Sierra Nevada are on there with the likes of New Glarus (whom I agree make amazing beer, but for Wisconsin brews my money is on Central Waters): even though New Glarus is extremely localized as compared to Sierra Nevada or, say, Boulevard, people from Wisconsin know how to fucking drink beer.
posted by baphomet at 2:30 PM on March 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


That was my experience too, until the last two years or so. I'm in Kansas and spent several years begging shops to stock Schlafly, the universal response was "They won't ship it this far out." Same response I got from the brewery directly. Then all of the sudden Schlafly changed and these same shops were amazed at how quickly the brewery was trying to get beer into distant stores. I spoke with several store owners and managers and they all said that Schlafly expanding with greater effort than Boulevard, one also mentioned Boulevard was expanding South which might fit your observations.

That is all totally anecdotal as well, which is why I'd like to see sources.
posted by Science! at 2:37 PM on March 29, 2009


pdf of article about regional beer/microbrew distribution, for those who are interested.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:37 PM on March 29, 2009


baphomet, sweet I'll look through their site.

people from Wisconsin know how to fucking drink beer.

No kidding. I have family that went to college in Wisconsin and they came back to my home state hard core. Amazingly hard core. What do you do when there's three feet of snow on the ground? "Drink enough to keep you warm as you hike to the bowling alley." Then what do you do? "Bowl, and drink enough to keep you warm on your hike back home."
posted by Science! at 2:42 PM on March 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


I would never put it and something like Sierra Nevada in the same category given that one is widely available in the US

Well only one beer that Sierra makes is widely available in the US, their Pale Ale, which I would argue is not really their best effort. They make lots of different brews that are (mostly) only available throughout Northern California - Porter, Stout, Wheat and seasonals like Celebration and Bigfoot. And if you are in Chico you can get lots of neat stuff at local liquor shops in kegs - Dark Wheat and Oktoberfest for example. So they still do some small batch stuff, which is the only reason I'll leave out my complaint about Boston Beer Company being on the list. It's my understanding that they supposedly make real beer too. (zing!)


As an aside a little research indicates that all Sloshpot did was put these on a map. The Brewers Association puts out an annual list and this map is made from their rankings.

Cool map though!



Chico State Class of 2001 represent!
posted by Big_B at 2:46 PM on March 29, 2009


Sorry if I missed them, but Schlafly out of St. Louis has got to rival Boulevard.

In terms of volume shipped? Not hardly. In terms of quality? To me, there's no contest. Boulevard is a good, solid brewery, I'll drink their beer most anytime, but Schlafly is *stellar*.

(Technically, Schlafly is the brand, St. Louis Brewing is the brewery -- see "Sam Adams/Boston Beer Company."

IMHO, they're fighting it out with Bell's and Unibroue. In many ways, Boulevard is like Stone -- they have one really good beer, and several good beers. Schlafly make a ton of stellar beers, and I'm hoping that they can scale up and get that beer out there.

And, in even better news, their Kölsch is going year round. Alas, their best beers will never ship -- they constantly brew single batches that are served only at The Tap Room, and they often have them in casks.

Stellar, stellar beer.
posted by eriko at 2:53 PM on March 29, 2009


THANK YOU!!! Awesome post!

I'm in MA, and frankly it's just not so well represented by Sam Adams and Harpoon (although both do make some decent to good beer) so if you're a beer fan and want some of the best brews in the Commonwealth, don't miss a few breweries not on this list, not a complete list and in no particular order but these are some of my favorites:

Wachusett Brewing (Westminster, MA), Berkshire Brewing Co. (South Deerfield, MA), Buzzard's Bay Brewing (Westport, MA), Ipswitch/Mercury Brewing (Ipswitch, MA), Cisco Brewers (Nantucket, MA), Cape Ann Brewing (Gloucester, MA), Hyland/Pioneer Brewing (Sturbridge, MA), Nashoba Valley Winery/Brewery (Bolton, MA), Opa-Opa Brewery (Southampton, MA), Paper City Brewery (Holyoke, MA), and Sherwood Forest Brewers (Marlborough, MA)

Interestingly enough, I have an sort of funny story about Jim Koch (Founder of Boston Brewing/Sam Adams). He was a guest at my uncle's wedding, his wife and my now aunt knew each other. I'd heard rumors that he might be there, but the beerhounds were not allowed to have confirmation of his attendance and I had no idea what he looked like anyway (this is before he did commercials and such). Well, the wedding was on Children's Island, which we reached from Salem, MA. We all went out for the ceremony and reception, and then that evening we were to all board the boat and take a cruise before returning to Salem for more drinking and debauchery. Well, we left the island, and about 5 minutes later we suddenly turned back. Turns out, Jim Koch was there and he had been left on the island with his daughter...So once we picked him up and returned to sea, I made my move to say hello and tell him how much I thanked him for his beer and contribution to American microbrewing. Turns out that for a very wealthy and fairly influential guy, he's about the nicest dude you'd ever meet. He told me stories about how the first batch of Boston Lager had been brewed in his apartment, and how they knew they were on to something as soon as they tasted it. He gave Jimmy Carter his due for legalizing home brewing, and opening up the doors for so many brewers to become businesspeople, and so on...

Funny thing was, the boat was out of Sam at this point, so here I was sitting with the father of modern American microbrewing and we were drinking...Heineken keg cans.
posted by rollbiz at 2:54 PM on March 29, 2009 [12 favorites]


Oops, end of first paragraph should say "mine is not a complete list".
posted by rollbiz at 2:56 PM on March 29, 2009


Why not a listing by taste?

Prohibition followed by WWII killed off good beer in the US, and it was only much later when brewpubs started becoming legal again has there been a resurgence of good beer brewing. To all those outside the US who deplore the taste of American beer, you need to try these and smaller brewery beers. You should be able to find some decent ones in the bunch.
Gordon Biersch always looked like chain restaurants to me

I'll tell my Gordon Biersch story.
When the first restaurant/brewery opened up in Palo Alto, I went in and ended up talking for a long time with the brewmaster Gordon. He is the only American born graduate of some top brewery university in Germany (probably because you have to speak German. His parents were German so he was fluent).
"Anheuser Busch has brewer from the university, but they weren't American's when they graduated," he said.

He wanted to start a brew-pub, and it turned out that his lawyer also had a client who wanted to open a restaurant, so they joined together to create Gordon Biersch. He says that he's had to tone down the beers from the original German recipes because of American tastes (unfortunately). He talked for a while about the science of yeasts and the importance of keeping them pure, which is why, he said, you don't want to brew a wheat beer near the brewing of another type of beer. The yeasts might get mixed.

Anyway, the restaurant was a success, so he built another one in San Jose, then later one in Las Vegas, From the map it looks like there's one in Tennessee now.
posted by eye of newt at 2:57 PM on March 29, 2009


According to the article, #21 Rogue and #23 New Glarus both produced ~65,000 barrels in 2007 while #3 New Belgium produced ~494,000 barrels in 2008. I guess the term microbrew is, er, fluid. This is all probably dwarfed by Miller's output.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:58 PM on March 29, 2009


They make lots of different brews that are (mostly) only available throughout Northern California - Porter, Stout, Wheat and seasonals like Celebration and Bigfoot.

i haven't seen the wheat, but i've seen all the others available in the kalamazoo/battle creek area - of course, i'm often drinking bell's ...
posted by pyramid termite at 3:00 PM on March 29, 2009


Once I noticed that Chicago's Goose Island Brewery was left off this list, I did some poking around and figured out that "craft brewing" includes an "independence" requirement: "Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer."

So, we can compare the list of the top 50 overall brewers to the list of the top 50 craft brewers and get the list of non-craft breweries in the top 50:

1 Anheuser- Busch Inc. St. Louis MO
2 Miller Brewing Co. Milwaukee WI
3 Coors Brewing Co. Golden CO
4 Pabst Brewing Co. Woodridge IL
6 D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. Pottsville PA
9 High Falls Brewing Co. Rochester NY
11 Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. Portland OR
12 Redhook Ale Brewery Woodinville WA
15 Minhas Craft Brewery Monroe WI
17 Iron City Brewing Co. Pittsburgh PA
25 Goose Island Beer Co. Chicago IL
26 August Schell Brewing Co. New Ulm MN
29 Mendocino Brewing Co. Ukiah CA
46 Gluek Brewing Co. Cold Spring MN
47 Straub Brewery St. Mary's PA
posted by tew at 3:07 PM on March 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


i haven't seen the wheat, but i've seen all the others available in the kalamazoo/battle creek area - of course, i'm often drinking bell's ...

And here we have the injustice of it! This is not the case at my local store of beer procurement. I have a vague memory of maybe once spotting Bell's at a Cost Plus or something, but even that may have been a dream.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:07 PM on March 29, 2009


FWIW, Pete's Brewing, makers of Pete's Wicked Ale, is merely "located" in San Antonio. Their entire line is brewed under contract by Matt Brewing Company in Utica, NY. Pete's is also owned by the Gambrinus Company, an importer of other brands such as Corona and Moosehead.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:29 PM on March 29, 2009


Big_B: I've seen all of those at various specialty shops here in MN. The Sierra Nevada Stout is actually my all-around favorite stout (I have other favorites for specific styles of stout, but for a general stout I think it's superlative).
posted by baphomet at 3:31 PM on March 29, 2009


> he's about the nicest dude you'd ever meet.

Seriously, all I keep hearing about Koch is that he is an awesome guy. In fact almost every small batch / microbrewer is a great person to talk to, and they would not be doing what they were doing if they didn't absolutely love beer and love talking to people about beer.

And: F*@*($&@#($, I just realized I forgot about THIS which was yesterday.
posted by mrzarquon at 3:40 PM on March 29, 2009


~Well only one beer that Sierra makes is widely available in the US, their Pale Ale, which I would argue is not really their best effort. They make lots of different brews that are (mostly) only available throughout Northern California - Porter, Stout, Wheat and seasonals like Celebration and Bigfoot.

I've seen their Bigfoot, Wheat, ESB, Pale, Celebration and Torpedo (Harpoon? Whatever the current DIPA is called) all in NJ, in the worst beer county in the state, without trying to find SN.

Honestly, it isn't my bag, but it definitely does get distributed.
posted by paisley henosis at 3:40 PM on March 29, 2009


And how did Flying Dog get so high up the list? I mean, honestly…it just isn't very good.
posted by paisley henosis at 3:44 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


We had our reception at the (schlafly) Bottle Works. When we went in to put in the final payment, news of the impending sale of AB to InBev had just come through, so the banquet co-ordinator took great pride in saying "welcome to the largest locally-owned brewery in St. Louis!"

Yeah, I'm *really* happy the Kolsch has gone year-round. I like my hoppy and weird beers, but for a beer after a sweaty day's work, nothing beats that Kolsch. Now i don't have to stock up every summer.
posted by notsnot at 3:48 PM on March 29, 2009


I forgot to mention (I got distracted by the fact that I missed out on awesome beer yesteryda), Koch setup a hopsharing program, so smaller brewers could still get their hands on hops during the shortage.

As for why WA doesn't have much appearance on the list, our state laws make it (until recently) pretty pricey if you want to bottle and distribute out of state. Pyramid, Red Hook and Mac and Jacks are really the notable ones. But as a result we have a ton of smaller places that just don't bother doing bottles, keeping with distributing kegs and filling growlers. One of my favorites is Georgetown Brewing Company, which just makes exceptionally drinkable beer.
posted by mrzarquon at 3:54 PM on March 29, 2009


Notable omissions, which I'm surprised didn't crack the top 50:

Smutty Nose in Portsmouth, NH
St. George in Hampton, VA
posted by emelenjr at 3:56 PM on March 29, 2009


Great post. Great beer. Beer..... Mmmmm. I surprised by how many of them I remember I've had (35):

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 40, 42, 43, 44, 46, 48.

I agree the Flying Dog isn't that good. I usually give Magic Hat a pass, too.
posted by pmbuko at 4:01 PM on March 29, 2009


Given that Boston Brewing Company is the largest American-owned brewing company in the world, I really wonder how fair it is to call it a 'microbrew.'
posted by koeselitz at 4:04 PM on March 29, 2009


That's why they call them "craft" breweries. Many of them are so big, the micro doesn't quite apply.
posted by pmbuko at 4:13 PM on March 29, 2009


Flying Dog's the one with the Steadman illustrations, right? I don't think it's very good either, but they seem to have some serious distribution, having left the rarefied heights of fancy liquor stores and entered the broader world of, uh, grocery stores.
posted by box at 4:14 PM on March 29, 2009


Yeah, if I lived in Nevada, Montana, or North Dakota, I'd drink a ton of beer, too.
posted by Caduceus at 4:16 PM on March 29, 2009


Recently discovered Big Sky's Moose Drool. My god what wonderful elixir!
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 4:19 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


11. Alaskan Brewing and Bottling Company, Juneau AL

I am lucky enough to live in Juneau and enjoy the special brews they put out during the year. They really run the gamut and, while I may not like all of them (baltic? Blech!), they are never boring (coffee ale is incredible as is the smoked porter). They converted me from drinker of dark beers to a lover of hoppy IPAs. However, I was unaware that I lived in Alabama and I am confused by all the snow outside.
posted by Foam Pants at 4:21 PM on March 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


The reason Utah is so white in the per-capita map and Nevada so dark is that Utahns drive over the NV border to West Wendover to do all their drinking.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:23 PM on March 29, 2009


Just had Madison's Capital on a recent trip there. Good stuff, but the best of the local brew pubs around here in Louisville are better. I'm wondering if these beer hotspots like Wisconsin or Colorado have similar tiny but excellent beer makers.
posted by mrmojoflying at 4:28 PM on March 29, 2009


> I'm wondering if these beer hotspots like Wisconsin or Colorado have similar tiny but excellent beer makers.

Most places with a strong beer culture do. Either the old brewmasters get fed up with being so large (which means they can't experiment as much and want to get back to basics), or it just attracts beer geeks who end up setting up their own shop.

The washington brewers cask festival I linked to above is amazing because it almost always features small / single barrel creations that are either experiments or possible new creations they haven't had outside the public. Some of the guys there just make enough to serve at their own brewpub. Last year there was a bourbon barrel aged cherry ale that was unbelievably good. They ended up not winning because so many people went back for seconds that they ran out before everyone was able to try it and therefore vote on it.

Add to it that smaller brewers are more likely to experiment, you find some amazing things coming out of the most unlikely places. Selinsgrove Brewing Company (warning, horrible website) makes all their beer in a converted one car garage. Their white horse oatmeal stout never exactly tastes the same batch to batch, but it is always good. Their raspberry beer is phenomenal, because they make it right after the local berry harvest, etc.
posted by mrzarquon at 4:41 PM on March 29, 2009


Speaking of, we have the Beer Festival on May 2nd in Raleigh, NC. Tickets go fast though.

Went to the last one in Durham in October, lots of fun.
posted by dno at 4:57 PM on March 29, 2009


Very happy to see Abita on this list. Hell, I named my cat after it!
posted by brundlefly at 5:00 PM on March 29, 2009


The title of this post is a revealing contradiction of terms, isn't it?

Firstly, read this strained definition of craft brewing.

The Brewers Association has been jumping through hoops to define craft (nee micro) brewing for the past couple of years because the little guys are finally growing bigger. Boston Beer will almost surely surpass 2 million barrels this year as its new plant in Lehigh County, Pa., finally gets into full gear.

So, one of the nation's leading craft brewers - the maker of not just the highly popular Boston Lager, but more than 30 separate styles, including groundbreaking, iconoclastic extreme beers - is going to get booted off the list, lumped with the likes of BudMillerCoors.

Meanwhile, Yuengling isn't on the list at all, though it is just a notch smaller than Boston Beer. For the record, the very first line of the BA's definition says, "An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional." Yuengling is, indeed small, family owned and has been brewing pretty much the same same styles for 130 years. Why isn't Yuengling on the list? Apparently because it uses corn in its famous Lager - a so-called adjunct ingredient. Never mind that traditional American lagers have employed the use of corn more than a century.

There's more. For instance, there's been a lot of talk lately about the true ownership of Blue Moon. It's partly the topic of the new documentary, Beer Wars. Pretty decent beer, but it doesn't qualify (even though the brewer was trained in Belgium) because it's made by Coors.

It's all a tempest in the teapot and few outside of beer circles care. But it does produce anomalies as represented in this thread.

Anyway, for the record, 1 through 50 - I've had every one of them. In the past 6 months.
posted by sixpack at 5:01 PM on March 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


From the map it looks like there's one in Tennessee now.

Weird thing is that the Tennessee ones use a different branding. They're called Big River Grille -- but they are otherwise undistinguishable from the Gordon Biersch Breweries.
posted by smackfu at 5:01 PM on March 29, 2009


17 (Abita) is the first ever beer I was able to drink without being disgusted. It's probably still my favorite beer.
posted by Night_owl at 5:07 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, if I lived in Nevada, Montana, or North Dakota, I'd drink a ton of beer, too.

We won! We totally did *hiccup* it everybody, we won!
posted by clearly at 5:29 PM on March 29, 2009


We had our reception at the (schlafly) Bottle Works.

*waves at notsnot*

Mefi's own Thin Lizzy and I had ours at the Tap Room.

And I've also toured the Boulevard brewery, where they in fact do claim to be the second largest brewery in Missouri. Then the tour guide says that it takes the Budweiser brewery seventeen minutes to equal their annual output.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:33 PM on March 29, 2009


Glad to see Lagunitas on the list. They make some tasty beverages, they do.
posted by jonmc at 5:34 PM on March 29, 2009


Cool, Abita is at #17. I could drive to their brewery in about 10 minutes. And they have a little pub there where you can get food and sample the really, really fresh ale.

A few years ago they decided to try putting raspberries in the beer. Seemed to work out; they called the result "Purple Haze" and it was pretty popular. Unfortunately the result also tended to continue fermenting and there was a flurry of exploding bottles as they expanded its distribution.

They've fixed that now, but there's no telling what they're putting in the barrels this year up in Abita Springs.
posted by localroger at 5:36 PM on March 29, 2009


Well looks like I have to score me some Schlafly. I've never seen it in Philly, so ROAD TRIP!! TO GET BEER!

I'll get a big truck and buy a bunch of it, then have a madcap adventure racing across the country with my precious cargo. If anyone asks what's in the truck, I'll tell 'em it's just a bunch of fertilizer and diesel fuel for the farm. What could go wrong?
posted by Mister_A at 5:41 PM on March 29, 2009


Glad to see Lagunitas on the list. They make some tasty beverages, they do.

Yes, they sure do. I pretty much always have Lagunitas IPA and/or Racer 5 from Bear Republic (not on the list, fantastic beer) in the fridge.
posted by rtha at 5:56 PM on March 29, 2009


And how did Flying Dog get so high up the list? I mean, honestly…it just isn't very good.

You may have noticed that this list is based upon volume. Correspondingly, Anheuser-Busch is the #1 brewery in the U.S., by volume. Being good has nothing to do with either.
posted by spock at 6:01 PM on March 29, 2009


PS... If you are a hophead and want to taste something surprising, get thee a 750ml bottle of Rogue's Shakespeare Stout. So dark you can't see light through it, but hoppy as a Texas toad on hot asphalt. A memorable beer, and not like any stout you've ever had before, I'd wager.
posted by spock at 6:04 PM on March 29, 2009


Spock: yes, I know that. I just can't imagine who is paying the price for Flying Dog, and trying to get craft beer, and failing to buy any one of the scores of better beers for the same or lower price. Anchor Steam, for example, isn't a *bad* beer, not at all. But for 11$/6, I could buy any number of beers I would prefer.

Anchor Porter, on the other hand. There is a beer worth buying.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:08 PM on March 29, 2009


spock- that sounds pretty damn good.

I've found a good irish whisky goes well with a hoppy beer, while a nice smokey scotch pairs well with richer stout. So now I've got myself a conundrum. Maybe something like red breast would go well with the shakespeare.
posted by mrzarquon at 6:09 PM on March 29, 2009


(and for those who haven't tried: great divides oak aged yeti stout with a nice glass of lagavulin 16year, take a sip of one, then a sip of the other)
posted by mrzarquon at 6:11 PM on March 29, 2009


I pretty much always have Lagunitas IPA

You should try the Brown Shugga , although as the ABV should indicate, clear an evening for the experience.
posted by jonmc at 6:24 PM on March 29, 2009


Man, no love for Flying Dog. Their Classic Pale Ale is one of my faves. I'll agree that the others aren't so exciting.

I was going to add that Magic Hat has the distinction of having the only beer that was so terrible that I couldn't finish it, but that was actually Mad Hatter's soapy ass potpourri IPA. STAY AWAY.
posted by xorry at 6:25 PM on March 29, 2009


"and get the list of non-craft breweries in the top 50:

26 August Schell Brewing Co. New Ulm MN
29 Mendocino Brewing Co. Ukiah CA"



OK, you're picking on two old friends here. These two are definitely what I would call micros and as far as craft goes, Mendocino is one of the pioneers of craft-brewing, and Schell's is the second oldest family brewery in the US, and brews some of the wickedest German-style brews on the planet. They were fortunate enough to pick up the name and formula for Grain Belt Premium when the brewer went tits up and have really had a huge success with it. Their bocks and Oktoberfest are killer, the stout is sweet, and the Snowstorm, which changes every year, one of the most anticipated winter brews in the region. And it is definitely the only visually appealing brewery in North America.
posted by Ber at 6:28 PM on March 29, 2009


Mister_A: "Well looks like I have to score me some Schlafly. I've never seen it in Philly, so ROAD TRIP!! TO GET BEER!

Man after my own heart...I make a yearly pilgrimage from St. Screwy to Utah for a couple cases of Polygamy Porter.
posted by notsnot at 6:33 PM on March 29, 2009


Wow, it's neat to see Victory in the top 50. It's located in my hometown and I'm glad we're able to appreciate it as often as we do :)
posted by pete0r at 6:35 PM on March 29, 2009


More from New Hampshire: Manchester Brewing (not exactly a solid web presence).
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:39 PM on March 29, 2009


And it is definitely the only visually appealing brewery in North America.

Uh, Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY is certainly attractive (and they host an annual cyclocross race on the brewery grounds to boot).

I'm surprised that Dogfish Head isn't higher on the list, but then again, I'm in Philly, so it's everywhere here.

But the best part of being in Philly is that there's a corner store three blocks from me that sells at least something from almost every one of those 50, plus hundreds more.
posted by The Michael The at 7:11 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


pete0r, you are indeed lucky. I got a chance to visit Victory the last time I was in Downingtown, and between the food and the beer I felt like I could have stayed there forever. But I've found a distributor here in Pittsburgh that sells a case with HopDevil, Prima Pils, Golden Monkey, and Victory Lager, and so that at least keeps me sated.
posted by esd at 7:23 PM on March 29, 2009


rollbiz: "
I'm in MA, and frankly it's just not so well represented by Sam Adams and Harpoon (although both do make some decent to good beer) so if you're a beer fan and want some of the best brews in the Commonwealth, don't miss a few breweries not on this list, not a complete list and in no particular order but these are some of my favorites:

Wachusett Brewing (Westminster, MA), Berkshire Brewing Co. (South Deerfield, MA), Buzzard's Bay Brewing (Westport, MA), Ipswitch/Mercury Brewing (Ipswitch, MA), Cisco Brewers (Nantucket, MA), Cape Ann Brewing (Gloucester, MA), Hyland/Pioneer Brewing (Sturbridge, MA), Nashoba Valley Winery/Brewery (Bolton, MA), Opa-Opa Brewery (Southampton, MA), Paper City Brewery (Holyoke, MA), and Sherwood Forest Brewers (Marlborough, MA)
"


Wachusett Blueberry is by far my favorite beer. Being from central MA its easy to go and pick up growler and refill it every weekend. My friend recently started brewing beer and his first brew was an Irish Stout. Which is very dark like Guinness, we decided to mix some of the brewed beer with Wachusett Blueberry and make our own play on Black and Tans with "Black and Blues." The result: Delicious.
posted by lilkeith07 at 7:43 PM on March 29, 2009


lilkeith07- Awesome, that's definitely the beer that they've covered the most ground with, and the "Black and Blue" is a regional classic. I forget sometimes that I can't order it when I'm traveling, and it makes me sad...

Please let me know if your friend winds up with any reserves, I'd love to try the concoction. Also, we should meet up for a beer sometime at the Dive Bar or the Armsby Abbey!
posted by rollbiz at 7:48 PM on March 29, 2009


And by the way, lilkeith, since I now see that you're in the area...When the Irish stout runs out, try a black and blue with Berkshire Brewing's Drayman's Porter. Get a growler of it, crack the cap, and let it sit to warm and flatten for about an hour. It's heaven in a jug, especially with the blueberry for contrast!
posted by rollbiz at 7:52 PM on March 29, 2009


The Michael The- I could kiss the first beer rep that told me, as I started to get into belgians a few years back, that Ommegang was every bit as good as anything produced enough in Belgium to be sent over here. He was so, so right.

Three Philosophers is still one of my favorite ruminating beers...Along with La Fin Du Monde (sup Canada!)
posted by rollbiz at 8:00 PM on March 29, 2009


As of this moment, I'm declaring a war on hops. Over-bittered beer is not a sign of craftsmanship, and the local brew-pubs are wrecking their recipes to keep up with the Dogfishes. Stop it. Right now.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:03 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is all very well and nice, and really this is a very nice post, but Dale's Pale Ale is now the finest beer brewed in America, and it comes only in cans.
posted by caddis at 8:15 PM on March 29, 2009


Mostly agreed, Slap Happy... In the realm of quality, the done-to-death EXXXTREME IPAze!!1!!1! is no more an "extreme craft beer" than grain alcohol is an "extreme craft spirit".

That being said, it can be done right. See HopDevil or, for a religious experience, 120 Minute IPA.
posted by rollbiz at 8:19 PM on March 29, 2009


caddis, some of the best beer comes in cans. Until they lost the war of appearances, my beloved Archer's Ale only came in cans.

I do loves me some Dale's, but for my money Old Chub is the only way to fly.
posted by rollbiz at 8:23 PM on March 29, 2009


Top 50 craft brewers

Micro brew by the truck load! I guess "micro" has been replaced with "craft" which is of course utterly meaningless since even Bud is a craft, someone's gotta learn how to do it. These breweries are no longer micro. A more interesting list would be the Bottom 100 micro breweries.
posted by stbalbach at 8:25 PM on March 29, 2009


In fact, Slap Happy, I remember when I was growing up that whenever someone would ask my dad about his religion, he would answer "Lord Stanley's Cup". I think that henceforth, when presented with the same question, I will answer "Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA".
posted by rollbiz at 8:27 PM on March 29, 2009


Thanks for the notes on Sierra's availability! I had no idea.

Another great brewery left of that list is Mad River Brewing near Eureka.

Great post baphomet.
posted by Big_B at 8:27 PM on March 29, 2009


rollbiz/caddis- both of you are missing out: Ten Fiddy. $2.50 stout that will knock your socks off, by the makers of Dales and Chub.

Was just released, and just sold out, up here in Seattle anyway.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:31 PM on March 29, 2009


And I'm drinking their Gordon beer right now, which is also top notch.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:34 PM on March 29, 2009


Oh I love the Ten Fiddy too, hard to get around here though. It's in stock for a few weeks and then gone for months. I love bringing any of their beers around with me though, people see the cans and figure it's garbage and then two or three deep they're inspired and halfway to hammered too...Shows them the meaning of the word respect.
posted by rollbiz at 8:34 PM on March 29, 2009


Boston Brewing Co. is just down the street from me although I believe everything but the Boston Lager and test batches of new brews are actually done in Minnesota or some other state far, far away. Not very micro, more of a minor commercial but I'll take it over the major commercial breweries any day. Oh, and Yuengling runs in my veins due to my grandfather and his many generations of family in Pennsylvania.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 8:36 PM on March 29, 2009


As I'm reading this, I'm drinking a Unibroue Fin du Monde.
posted by box at 8:42 PM on March 29, 2009


I hope you brought a pillow. You should try their Epherme Apple.
posted by jonmc at 8:44 PM on March 29, 2009


rollbiz: I love Belgian-style also. Introduced to the style by Chemay (Red) but since surpassed by Maudite (my favorite Unibroue) and then surpassed by both Rochefort Trappistes 8 and St. Bernardus which were then surpassed by Rochefort Trappistes 10. I'm happy to try anything in that neighborhood, but it's hard to find the good stuff in the middle of Nebraska. I'm willing to brew it myself!
posted by spock at 8:50 PM on March 29, 2009


I went to jr and sr high with Logan O'dell, of O'dell's, it was great. 90 Shilling was my first beer outside my own family and is still my favorite. Cheers to Ft. Collins!
posted by MNDZ at 8:52 PM on March 29, 2009


Number six, Matt's Brewery, also makes Utica Club, my all-time favorite cheap shit beer. Except now they brew it in such small quantities, I can hardy ever find it. This is the human cost of craft brewing.
posted by Superfrankenstein at 9:30 PM on March 29, 2009


~ As of this moment, I'm declaring a war on hops. Over-bittered beer is not a sign of craftsmanship, and the local brew-pubs are wrecking their recipes to keep up with the Dogfishes. Stop it. Right now.

I'm right there with you. I hate "extreme beer," both the nomenclature and the product. Frankly, it astounds me that a website that claims to be focused on advocating for beer would insist on using a term that is an embarrassment to themselves, what they represent, and makes lots of people look down on the entire "craft" movement. I mean, if you don't know how to make beer, and you insist on just shoveling more crap in there to cover for it, that's fine. And if you like how it comes out when someone else does that, that's fine too. It isn't for me, but whatever floats your boat and all that.

But "extreme"? I mean, even Mountain Dew gave up that sorry buzzword. Honestly, it is asinine.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:47 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd like to know the numbers on the sales volume. I think the ones at the top of this list are a LOT larger than the ones at the bottom of this list. Anyway when I was at the Anchor brewery in SF they quoted some numbers of theirs vs. New Belgium and I recall there being a large difference, something like 100X.
posted by scarabic at 10:15 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Never mind that traditional American lagers have employed the use of corn more than a century.

Just because it's been piss for a long time doesn't make it traditional. America has many great beers, but I don't think we've been making beer long enough to tell the rest of the world that using corn and rice is really the time-honored way. Nuh-uh.
posted by scarabic at 10:19 PM on March 29, 2009


paisley henosis: I feel like I ought to put in a word for the Great Lakes Brewing Company here. Unlike most of the beers on that list, they don't make Xtreme Imperial Tripel Stouts, etc. Their Edmund Fitzgerald porter, for example, is a plain ol' porter - but it's one of the best dark beers in the US, in my opinion. I wish there were more breweries like them that tried to do comparatively simple traditional styles well.

(Of course, I do like my Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA on occasion. I've actually got the opposite complaint about beer culture in Germany: It's delicious, but the breweries there do nothing but traditional stuff. There's almost no room for experimentation. Try bringing that 90 Minute IPA back to Germany and giving it to Müncheners. Hilarity ensues.)
posted by ubersturm at 10:40 PM on March 29, 2009


> America has many great beers, but I don't think we've been making beer long enough to tell the rest of the world that using corn and rice is really the time-honored way. Nuh-uh.

I think the definition of craft beer has nothing to do with time honored traditions. Hell, the Dogfish head first used a motor foosball table thing to let them add hops continuously during the boil. And other various crazy things that aren't part of "traditional" beer making (their liquor de malt is crazy and great and shows that you can make amazing things out of a corn based beer recipe). No one is arguing that corn based beers are 'traditional' but they can definitely be part of a 'craft' beer.

That is in fact the problem I have with a lot of german beers and while they were able to be able to create some pretty amazing things while still following the reinheitsgebot, I think what has made american beer kick ass and take names is the fact that guys making this stuff in their garages weren't afraid to try crazy different things to see what would happen. Being able to refine that and perfect that and make a good beer, even using rice or corn (intentionally, not for cheapness, but for the flavor characteristics), is what defines a "craft" beer for me.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:01 PM on March 29, 2009


I miss Shiner Bock. I miss Austin circa 1988. The heat and humidity of the summer nights sitting with us out on the front porch of Bianca's house just east of the drag as I gulped my first Shiner Bock. The cock-ca-roaches squirreling around the miss-key-toes under the buzzing glow of lighting-bugs. Captain Quacks still existed, and Einstein's jammed out "pew-pew"'s and gobbled up our quarters.

Damn I miss those days.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:13 PM on March 29, 2009



"Just because it's been piss for a long time doesn't make it traditional. America has many great beers, but I don't think we've been making beer long enough to tell the rest of the world that using corn and rice is really the time-honored way. Nuh-uh."

It's traditional in America, which makes perfect sense because "Hey, we should use corn because we have tons of it." is what tends to make most American alcoholic products unique. Look at bourbon.

Of course, corn has not been properly explored by American brewers. There is no distinct corn focused beer styles like you get with wheat. Just the same generic lagers you can get anywhere in the world.

Rice has it's proper uses too, it's great for keeping a beer light and refreshing, but it doesn't really lend itself to beer creativity.

Instead of making another crazy IPA or imitating German or Belgian styles, it would be nice if more craft brewers could look into creating something new with corn or rice.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:56 AM on March 30, 2009


Huh. I drink more than Utah. Pansies.
posted by ZaneJ. at 3:13 AM on March 30, 2009


I can get Boston, Brooklyn, Anchor and Pete's Brewing Co. ales at the independent bars where I live in the UK (just off the top of my head). Most of the names there are not entirely surprising, but it is interesting that it is fashionable to drink US ale when we have plenty to choose from already. Also, if I want to find a pub that only sells the real ales locally produced I will have more luck in London than here as they are very popular in the big smoke.

Last night, however I was enjoying Duvel and Maredsous Tripel, which were both new to me and very nice. A bit too nice, given their 8.5% and 10% alcohol content!
posted by asok at 4:25 AM on March 30, 2009


If you made a list of the 5 biggest micro-breweries in Maryland it would not include any of the 5 best beers brewed in Maryland. Just saying that bigger isn't better... My favorite beer on earth can't be bought outside the small German town it's brewed in.

I too would rather see a listing of breweries that make beer only distributed locally.

Still, it's all good. Great to see so many cool beers made in the USA and I absolutely love many in the list. Dogfish Head in particular- fantastic stuff.
posted by Patapsco Mike at 4:45 AM on March 30, 2009


Magic Hat Brewing Company and Performing Arts Center, South Burlington VT

Really???
posted by smackfu at 5:08 AM on March 30, 2009


Magic Hat Brewing Company and Performing Arts Center, South Burlington VT

Really???


Yes, really - they put on all sorts of annoying events in Burlington catering to college students and tourists. And they make probably the worst beer to come out of VT.

As I've said to Magic Hat's founder Alan Newman (who also founded Seventh Generation and helped found Gardener's Supply Company) many times - "I'd just as soon drink a Natural Ice as one of your beers." He's a nice guy, and humors the beer snobs. ;)

FYI, Magic Hat (#12) purchased (or merged with, not quite sure) with Pyramid (#5) last year.

box, jonmc - if you're impressed by Unibroue's finest, then just you wait until you have your FACE MELTED OFF by the offerings from Hopfenstark and Dieu du Ciel.

Lastly, anyone who can make it shoud go to the Ommegang Belgium Comes to Cooperstown festival this summer. Last year's Great Lebrewski was a blast.
posted by brand-gnu at 6:48 AM on March 30, 2009


smackfu- Yeah, I hesitated when I was typing that one out.
posted by baphomet at 6:49 AM on March 30, 2009


Awesome map. When my non-American friends ask me about shitty American beer like Coors and Bud, I do my best to explain what's on that map. Since the early 90s or so, American microbreweries have been putting out top-notch beer that makes it more difficult for Europeans to be so snooty about our beer scene. Go to any decent pub in any decent-sized city, and you can find this stuff on tap.

Though in small towns the "macrobrews" like Coors and Bud are still all too ubiquitous.
posted by zardoz at 7:19 AM on March 30, 2009


Best new desktop photo ever!
posted by spilon at 7:21 AM on March 30, 2009


ubersturm I feel like I ought to put in a word for the Great Lakes Brewing Company here. Unlike most of the beers on that list, they don't make Xtreme Imperial Tripel Stouts, etc.

I can't get it around here, and I haven't been back in the area in a while, but that is exactly my understanding. Garret Oliver at Brooklyn does a pretty good job of not falling into gimmicky nonsense, too. I'm not even trying to slag off Dogfish, to be honest. If I could get a single 12oz, or a pair, so my wife and I could each try one, or even a 22oz, I would sample my way through the entire Dogfish line up. But buying six-packs of a beer I don't expect to like is a hard thing to do, especially when they cost 12$.

The brewers who fall back and rely on novelty ingredients, or who blatantly display a complete lack of understanding of *balance* in a beer, they really get my goat. But the people who insist on acting like any non-monster-beer is bullshit, they really really burn my ass. And the people who insist on labeling the revival of real beer in the USA as the "extreme" movement, they are the worst of all, because they provide an excuse for the mediocre brewer to dump nonsense into their beer and pretend it is innovative (poppy-aguave 'pilsner'? Why?) while at the same time, encouraging the type of loudmouthed ignorance that makes it so hard for a craft brewer to bottle and sell a real, honest, good pils or Vienna lager, AND putting a ridiculous label on everyone who makes an effort to find good, real beer. My real beef is with the guys who run BeerAdvocate and the people like them, the ones who are the most noticeable public voice for craft beer, who choose to say "you guys are a-holes, extreme is what it is and any beer that doesn't suck is extreme."
posted by paisley henosis at 7:22 AM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


What an odd idea. What separates a craft brew from mass-produced swill? Quality.

So here's a map of the top microbrews... by volume.

On preview: what Patapsco Mike said.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:22 AM on March 30, 2009


Woah, jeeze, rant off. Sorry about that.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:23 AM on March 30, 2009


the Michael, I'm right there with you. The Foodery introduced me to the wonders of Unibroue many years ago, and it's still the go-to place for a tasty sixpack.

And someone upthread mentioned Ommegang–their original Abbey Ale is splendiferous, to say the least.
posted by Mister_A at 7:40 AM on March 30, 2009


I'm really sad that neither Bell's nor New Belgium has a distributor in NYC. I went into the Beer Room at the Bowery + Houston Whole Foods one night and asked why they didn't have Fat Tire. They explained about the lack of distributor problem, and then sold me a bottle of the Belgian beer that Fat Tire is based on. Dare I say it? It wasn't as good.

My happiest discovery lately is Elysian's Bifrost ale. The WF Beer Room has been selling 22 oz bottles of those sporadically.

Seconding the hate on Magic Hat (and I'm from Plattsburgh, NY, so I hate to hate on it), and the love for Dogfish Head, Lagunitas, and Dale's Pale Ale.

Lastly, I got to see the Dogfish Head founder speak last week, which was very entertaining, and he mentioned how a few years ago, Michael Jackson appeared at some convention in Germany, and when asked which country had the best beer scene, responded "America", to the surprise of many. We are living in interesting and good times for beer here in the U.S. (Although the Dogfish Head guy thought that a lot of interesting breweries have recently sprung up in Canada and Scandanavia.)
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:17 AM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


A couple of points here...

1. 35 out of 50. Not too bad for a self-proclaimed beer geek.
2. I dearly love Schlafly. For those looking to make a beer-pilgrimage to St Louis, be sure to visit the Tap Room, as they serve a much wider variety, include small and experimental batches. Hearing that the Kolsch is going year-round makes me very, very happy.
3. I share some of the disdain for "extreme" beers, although some of them can be quite good. I share more of the disdain for all the overly hopped IPAs that seemingly dominate the craft beer scene. While all beers have their places, the overemphasis on hops really edges out some of the more subtle, yet sublime styles such as "pre-prohibition" cream ale (a great example of a "traditional" American style, with the use of corn adjunct), Vienna lager, and good old fashion Pilsner.
4. Oh how I love beer!
posted by slogger at 8:38 AM on March 30, 2009


Bell's annual Oberon release party is today.
posted by wfitzgerald at 8:56 AM on March 30, 2009


a few years ago, Michael Jackson appeared at some convention in Germany, and when asked which country had the best beer scene, responded "America", to the surprise of many.

I had honestly never thought of Michael Jackson as a beer drinker up until now.

And add me to the "Why can't we get Fat Tire on the East Coast?" list. That is some seriously tasty stuff there. And I think the overhopped IPAs are the beer equivalent of the extreme style of hot sauces with Scoville ratings in the millions or whatever. You pick 'em for the "whoa whoa WHOA" experience (and bragging rights in some cases) cause you certainly can't pick 'em for the taste.
posted by Spatch at 10:03 AM on March 30, 2009


In terms of taste, Great Divide brewery in Denver beats out Rock Bottom or New Belgium any day. And in Portland, McMenamins has interesting artsy venues, but there beer is now mass-produced and not good. Hopworks is much better for my palette.
posted by asfuller at 10:45 AM on March 30, 2009


Instead of making another crazy IPA or imitating German or Belgian styles, it would be nice if more craft brewers could look into creating something new with corn or rice.

For flavor? Really?
posted by caddis at 10:48 AM on March 30, 2009


I enjoy a great craft beer like most beer drinkers do but recently I have been trying to find a very satisfying macro beer that isn't too expensive. I have decided on Schlitz (because I cannot get Yuengling in WI). If anybody hasn't had one lately you should try it, they are back to the original formula.
posted by hexxed at 10:49 AM on March 30, 2009


Cool list, although I'll second the sentiment that disincluding Yuengling on the basis of corn in their recipe is B.S. I dare anyone to go to their brewery in Pottsville and say with a straight face that it isn't a "craft brewery" to at least the same extent that Boston Beer is.

If they want to make the standard "craft breweries in the German tradition" then they ought to say that. But it doesn't make much sense to arbitrarily exclude corn-flavored brews for the sake of some sort of 'authenticity,' while simultaneously allowing a host of much more avant-garde beer styles.

What I suspect they're really trying to do with the list is include all the "good American beers" while excluding the "shitty American beers" that have been such an embarrassment for so long. You used to be able to do this just by looking only at microbrews, since good beer came from small breweries and bad beer came from megabreweries. But since that's not necessarily true anymore (a good thing in my book — there are now megabreweries like BBC making good beer!) they've had to really torture their qualifications to avoid obvious subjectivity. Hence the hate-on for rice or corn-flavored beers: it cuts out most of the piss "American lagers" like Budweiser. Apparently, Yuengling's entire lineup and status as a 'craft brewer' is just collateral damage.

Instead of these faux-objective criteria, they ought to just come out and flatly disqualify Bud, Coors, anything with the word "Ice" in the name, etc., on the grounds that they are embarrassingly terrible beers, not because they contain ingredients that — in the hands of a brewmaster going for quality instead of cost — really aren't evil.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:52 AM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great post. I was surprised not to see Goose Island, then surprised to see them on the list of top overall volume breweries, too.

New Glarus does NOT surprise me. They do a few traditional styles which are sublime, and they also brew "unplugged" varieties, which are the "extreme" beers folks mentioned above. A little something for everyone. The best beer I've ever had, in fact, was an Unplugged Imperial Stout a few years ago.

There are other outstanding smaller breweries in WI. If you can land Autumnal Heat from Capital Brewery, prepare for a beer that lives up to its name. Sprecher was started by the former brewmaster from Pabst (Randy Sprecher) when they high-tailed it out of Milwaukee. Lakefront was the first brewery to deliver a certified organic brew, and my bartender cousin in Milwaukee claims they have the best beer overall.

I just learned that Two Brothers Brewing opened a new brewery and pub blocks from my office (Western suburbs of Chicago) and Three Floyds just over the border in Indiana is due to unleash this year's batch of Darklord Imperial Stout.

Great Gordon Biersch story, but the food is overpriced and the beer is, as mentioned, meh. I've been two two locations in IL (called Rock Bottom Brewery here) and the Nashville version. They are consistent, if nothing else.

Last thing - anyone else remember the 22 oz bottles of Redhook Stout mixed with Starbucks coffee? Awesome.
posted by assoctw at 11:41 AM on March 30, 2009


Oh, yeah, Red Hook Double Black. That was my favorite beer for a while. If you like it, you might could check out Founders' Breakfast Stout.
posted by box at 12:39 PM on March 30, 2009


What no map of the top 50 crap breweries?

Examples:

1. Shaffer
2. Sterling
3. Schlitz
4. My friend Matt (who really should stop, and no the "brown nut" was not very good)
5. Falstaf...
posted by Pollomacho at 12:53 PM on March 30, 2009


rollbiz: "And by the way, lilkeith, since I now see that you're in the area...When the Irish stout runs out, try a black and blue with Berkshire Brewing's Drayman's Porter. Get a growler of it, crack the cap, and let it sit to warm and flatten for about an hour. It's heaven in a jug, especially with the blueberry for contrast!"

I'll have to try that next weekend. Thanks for the tip!
posted by lilkeith07 at 4:43 PM on March 30, 2009


By the way, anyone who can get their hands on it (and this means mostly PA people) owes it to themselves, as fans of beer, to try some Stoudt's Pils. It is honestly one of the best pilsners I've ever had, and probably the best from this continent.

To put it another way, the distributor for the two NJ counties I am smack in the center of can't get it any more (I think it was puled from them because they let people leave it on the shelf for *years*) so the wife and I are planning a two hour road trip to go buy a few cases. It is that damn good.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:04 PM on March 30, 2009


After scouring a dozen of the best liquor stores of Wisconsin, I was finally able to procure a 4-pack of Founder's Kentucky Breakfast Stout, which I must agree with Beer Advocate, is the best of it's kind. Seriously, if you ever see it, it is worth every cent... and that is at 21.99 per pack.

Also great, but definitely not an American craft is Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast. It is so heavy and rich and is made with real bits of panther*.

*Not really made with real bits of panther.

posted by Never Better at 1:15 PM on April 3, 2009


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