In recent years beer in America has been a booming business, with the popularity of microbreweries growing exponentially into a subculture of craft beer aficionados. The Brewers Association alone holds host to over 2,600 US brewing members, with reports showing craft brewers produce 1 in 10 of every beer sold. Last year, of their top 50 overall brewing companies, 42 were craft breweries.
As we celebrate all things USA this month it was due time to celebrate my love of American beer. Fuelled by memories of my year in Southern California, with recommendations from my partner in beer-drinking antics, here’s 21 of our favourite American craft breweries – ranked alphabetically, because preferentially was too tough a challenge!
1) Anchor Brewing: San Francisco, CA
Starting things off we’ve got one of America’s oldest breweries, dating back to 1896. They have a range of seasonal offerings and seven core beers, ranging from the original Anchor Steam to the latest Anchor IPA.
2) Ballast Point: San Diego, CA
Not just the home of craft beer, Ballast also has a distillery, producing their own vodka, rum, gin and whiskey. Brew Tip: Head straight for their award winning Sculpin IPA!
3) Boston Beer Company: Boston, MA
Brewers of Samuel Adams beers, they produce over 30 distinctive styles of craft beer, winning more awards in international beer tasting competitions in the last five years than any other craft beer brewery in the world. Cheers to that!
4) Boulevard: Kansas City, MO
With their current portfolio boasting over 30 brews, this big Midwest brewery has something for everyone. Brew Tip: The Unfiltered Wheat Beer is a bestseller!
5) Brewery Ommegang: Cooperstown, NY
Ommegang specialises in Belgian-style ales and host a Belgium Comes to Cooperstown event every summer, offering beer sampling, food, live music and a bonfire.
6) Brooklyn Brewery: New York, NY
With a range of perennial and seasonal offerings inspired by brewing styles from around the world, their flagship brew is the Brooklyn Lager, an American Amber Lager.
7) Dogfish Head: Milton, DE
Proud to be a little unconventional, Dogfish Head brew strange concoctions, sell silly accessory, and even have their own music group, The Pain Relievaz. Brew Tip: 90 Minute IPA packs a punch!
8) Firestone Walker Brewing Co: Paso Robles, CA
Firestone are inspired by the British, from their oak barrel brewing system to imported malts and hops for an (almost) authentic British Pale Ale, the DBA.
9) Flying Dog Brewery: Frederick, MD
Worthy of a place on the list for their unique style alone, the eye-catching logo and packaging designs offer a taste of the interesting flavours that lie within. Brew Tip: Gonzo Imperial IPA delivers strong full flavours with a bitter coffee kick!
10) Founders Brewing Company: Grand Rapids, MI
Founders brew with a simple philosophy: “We don’t brew beer for the masses. Instead, our beers are crafted for a chosen few, a small cadre of renegades and rebels who enjoy a beer that pushes the limits of what is commonly accepted as taste. In short, we make beer for people like us.”
11) Green Flash Brewing: San Diego, CA
One of the newest breweries on the list, Green Flash was founded in 2002 in Carlsbad, before moving to San Diego. Brew Tip: Grab the Road Warrior, a limited edition Imperial Rye IPA!
12) Lagunitas Brewing Company: Petaluma, CA
Hailing from Chicago and residing in California, the Lagunitas IPA is one of my go-to drinks but they offer a whole host of ales, porters and stouts.
13) New Belgium Brewing Company: Fort Collins, CO
Their flagship brew is Fat Tire, an amber ale, but they also offer year-round brews including Belgian style, IPAs and wheat beers.
14) New England Brewing Company: Woodbridge, CT
One of the pioneers of craft beer in cans, a trend which is now growing in popularity. Brew Tip: Brewed in a brewery not too far away and not too long ago… Imperial Stout Trouper.
15) Rogue Ales: Newport, OR
Rogue have their own farms where they grow the hops, malting barley, rye and other ingredients for Rogue Ales, Porters, Stouts, Lagers and Spirits. Their backlog of awards is nothing short of outstanding.
— Rogue Ales & Spirits (@RogueAles) July 8, 2015
16) Rök House Brewing Company: Upland, CA
One of the smallest of our microbreweries, their tap room has eight of their best brews on offer. Brew Tip: Hammer of Thor IPA which promises to turn even the most anti-IPA drinker into a hophead!
17) Sierra Nevada Brewing Company: Chico, CA
Each year they run the prestigious Beer Camp competition, with winners brewing their own beer which is bottled and sold by Sierra Nevada. Last year saw the Beer Camp Hoppy Lager, a hop-heavy twist on the classic blonde lager. This year’s winners have been hard at work on their new brew and we can’t wait for a taste!
18) Ska Brewery Co: Durange, CO
A worthy contender for their style and character alone, from their True Blonde Ale, Steel Toe Stout and Ten Pin Porter and more, the legion of Ska is one you will definitely want to be a part of.
19) Speakeasy Ales & Lagers: San Francisco, CA
Born straight from the secret warehouse of the prohibition era, their trademark eyes beckon you into the depths of the Speakeasy revolution. Brew Tip: It’s a tough choice but I have to give it to Scarlett, that red rye lady has class and style – delicious!
20) Stone Brewing Co: San Diego, CA
If you’re ever in San Diego I recommend a visit to the Stone World Bistro & Gardens. The cheddar, garlic and Stone Ruination IPA soup and the Stone Smoked Porter Brownie Sundae are personal favourites from their incredible menu.
21) 21st Amendment Brewery: San Francisco CA
The home of eight unique hand crafted beers and great food, celebrating the culture of the great breweries of old, 21st Ammendment has been voted Best Brewpub, Best Burger, and Best Happy Hour by the San Francisco press. Cheers!
An exhaustive list that doesn’t even touch on the array of brews on offer over in America, but it’s certainly enough to get you started. If you’re a fan of American brews let me know your favourite in the comments below!