OVERVIEW AMERICAN CRAFT
The art of handcrafted beer is as old and storied as our country – and in the last 30 years craft brewing has made a strong resurgence. Take a look at the best of the best American craft brands who carry on this age-old tradition with new, creative brews.
Our American Craft Family:
21ST AMENDMENT BREWERY
Around the turn of the 20th century, in the year 1900, there were thousands of small breweries operating across America. When Freccia and O’Sullivan were researching old San Francisco breweries (trying to find a cool name for their new brewery), what really made an impact was the discovery that there were about 40 breweries operating just within the city limits of San Francisco (by comparison, today there are eight with a population more than double what it was in 1900). They realized that the brewery captured the essence of the neighborhoods of San Francisco. They were the local gathering places. Places to exchange ideas, debate politics and philosophy. Places for families to come together on weekends. Places that provided something unique—hand crafted beer that was different at every brewery and that defined the taste of a neighborhood.
Founded in 1986, the Abita Brewing Company is a privately owned and operated brewery just 30 miles north of New Orleans. Led by a unified vision of quality, Abita’s lagers and ales are hard-crafted in small batches using the finest ingredients – British and North American malted barley, German and American yeast strains, Pacific Northwest hops and water from the Abita Springs. With no preservatives, additives or stabilizers, Abita’s lineup of cold-filtered brews include eight flagship beers, five seasonals, four harvest brews (made from Louisiana-grown ingredients), seven “big” beers (22 oz. bottles), and a root beer.
Claiming the title of “America’s first craft brewery,” Anchor Brewing has been a San Francisco institution since its start in 1896 – at the height of the California gold rush. With each member of its lineup brewed in a traditional copper brewhouse using historic tools and methods, Anchor Brewing continues to stay true to its history and heritage. In addition to five seasonal and several specialty batches, Anchor produces seven year-round options, including the bright amber, complex yet clean Anchor IPA and the classic amber Anchor Steam Beer, a favorite since 1896.
BALLAST POINT BREWING
Born in the backroom of a home brew store, Ballast Point Brewing is built on the brewing tradition of tinkering, testing and trying – over and over until you create something that’s just right. With all of the beers named for fish or fishing terms – another passion of the founders – Ballast Point Brewing’s lineup includes seven year-round offerings and twelve limited-series batches. Standouts include: the Longfin Lager, a classic and clean German-style Helles, the original Pale Ale featuring aromatic German hops and a blend of American and Munich hops, and the Sculpin IPA, a long-time award-winning favorite.
Based just outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Bell’s Brewery has grown dramatically since its start in 1986 as a home brewing shop. The beers’ intense local popularity propelled the brewery from a 135-barrel production year in 1986 to over 310,000 barrels in 2014. Central to Bell’s year-long portfolio is the Amber Ale, which balances toasted grain and light caramel notes with floral, citrus and herbal hop notes, capped by clean bitterness. A clear seasonal standout is Bell's Oberon, a spicy yet fruity wheat ale fermented with Bell's signature house ale yeast to mark the start of summer.
BLUE MOON BREWING COMPANY
Home of “the beer so good it could only come around once in a blue moon,” Blue Moon Brewing Company first created their signature Belgian White Wheat Ale in 1995 in Denver, Colorado. Inspired by classic Belgian brews, Blue Mon Brewing uses Valencia orange peel and the finest oats, hops and wheat to create bright yet creamy flavor profiles across their portfolio.
Founded in 1988, Brooklyn Brewery is made of a diverse cast of characters from around the world – who have all committed to creating great beers, tasty food and inspirational experiences for their community. With a portfolio that includes either perennials and six seasonals (not to mention numerous reserves and big bottles), Brooklyn Brewery’s flagship creation is the classic American Amber Lager – Brooklyn Lager. Styled after the Vienna lagers popular in Brooklyn in the late 1800s, the amber-gold Brooklyn Lager embodies the classic balancing act between the caramel malt center, the refreshing bitterness and the floral aroma. However, Brooklyn uses another centuries-old technique – dry-hopping – to make it their own.
DOGFISH HEAD CRAFT BREWERY
Introduced in 1995, Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats was Delaware’s first brewpub with the vision of bringing original beer, food and music to the area. Today, Dogfish Head brews nearly 20 styles of beer, enjoyed in more than 30 states. Their eclectic, creative lineup includes nine year-round brews, of which the 90-minute IPA is both a critical standout and fan favorite. Featuring their “continuous hopping” method, the 90 Minute IPA was named “perhaps the best IPA in America” by Esquire Magazine. Dogfish Head Brewery also brews 4 seasonals and dozens of “occasional rarities.”
Named for the small town in Texas where it has been brewed since 1909, Shiner is known for its refreshing, unique, highly drinkable beers – and lighthearted approach to its history. Growing from a tin shed to a state-of-the-art brewery producing 6 million cases per year, the Spoetzl Brewery is still uses the artesian water found in Shiner, Texas.
Launched by three friends and their love for European brewing and beer drinking culture, Harpoon started in 1986 within a warehouse space on the Boston waterfront. There the first Harpoon Ale was brewed. Today, Harpoon brews a wide range of unique year-round and seasonal beers – from the floral and hoppy New England-style Harpoon IPA to the clean, Kolsch-style Summer Beer to the traditional dry Boston Irish Stout.
Made up of friends and beer enthusiasts from across the country, Lagunitas was founded in 1994 in Petaluma, California with a distinct desire to make something better – and have fun doing it. Today, Lagunitas Brewing’s highly regarded list of year-round and seasonal craft beers are enjoyed not just in Petaluma, but coast-to-coast.
JACOB LEINENKUGEL BREWING COMPANY
Founded by Jacob Leinenkugel and John Miller in 1867, Leinie’s started as a two-employee brewery set in the center of the harsh Wisconsin Northwoods. Today, the brewery location and the Leinenkugel family leadership remain the same – but the beer is now available nationwide. In addition to the original brewery and lodge in Chippewa Falls, Leinie’s also operates the small 10th Street Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
MAGIC HAT BREWING
“Putting on a performance into every bottle of beer since 1994,” the South Burlington, Vermont-based brewery puts out upwards of 175,000 barrels each year and draws fans from across the country to its “Artifactory” tour destination. Magic Hat Brewing Company boasts a wide range of year-round, seasonal, limited, rarity, canned and audition ales to “entertain and mystify” its audience.
MISSISSIPPI BREWING COMPANY
Calling itself a “nano-brewery brewpub” located on Golfport Lake, Mississippi Brewing Company is a quiet little brewery, pub and home brewing supply store that lets its brews do the talking. Making one barrel at a time, Mississippi Brewing’s flagship is the well-crafted Liquid Courage Pale Ale featuring an opaque amber appearance, smooth, balanced taste and slightly bitter finish. Seasonals and rareties include the Red Snapper IPA, Mississippi Speckled Stout, Brown Ale, Mississippi Mud and Red Headed Step Child.
NEW BELGIUM BREWING
Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, New Belgium Brewing Company opened in 1991 after the founder took his homebrewing passion commercially. Twenty years later, New Belgium became the third largest craft brewery and eighth largest overall brewery in the United States.
OSKAR BLUES BREWERY
In 1999, the Lyons Colorado brewpub, Oskar Blues, began brewing beer in their basement, and the rest is history. Today, Oskar Blues brews and packages their can- and keg-only beers, from two locations Longmont, Colorado and Brevard, North Carolina. The distinct flagship (and Oskar Blues Brewery’s first beer) is the assertive yet balanced Dale’s Pale Ale, an American Pale Ale and India Pale Ale hybrid featuring American hops and European malts. In addition, four other year-round brews are available, along with half a dozen seasonals and specialties.
Operating brewpubs in Oregon, Washington and California, Rogue began their journey in 1988 and now distributes their full-flavored, award-winning craft beers internationally. With nearly forty beers on their menu board, Rogue’s flagship has been the American Amber Ale. Brewed since their start, the amber ale demonstrates a toffee aroma, tight head, and a delicate roasted malt accent – and features a generous use of hops and a smooth finish. Other notables include the Helles Bock Dead Guy Ale, the Hazelnut Brown Nectar American Brown Ale, and the Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout.
SAMUEL ADAMS BREWERY
Produced by the Boston Beer Company and founded in 1984, Samuel Adams is now one of the largest American-owned beermakers. Known for pushing the boundaries of mainstream beer, Samuel Adams Brewery’s first and flagship beer, the Boston Lager, dry-hopped with the distinct and delicate Hallertau Mittelfrueh Noble hops. Six weeks into the business, the Boston Lager was named the “Best Beer in America” at the Great American Beer Festival.
SIERRA NEVADA BREWERY
Established in 1979 by two California homebrewers, Sierra Nevada Brewing's Pale Ale is one of the top three best-selling craft beers in the United States. Named for the founders’ love of hiking in the Sierra Nevade Mountains, the brewery was named "Green Business of the Year" by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 for its sustainability practices. A craft beer pioneer that helped spur the revival in the 1980s, Sierra Nevada’s portfolio boasts numerous year-round and seasonal creations.
SMALL TOWN BREWERY
Tim Kovak founded Illinois-based Small Town Brewery in 2014. His continuing goal is to honor his family’s beer making tradition by creating specialty beers like “Not Your Father’s Root Beer.” Already sold in 30 states, it has become one of the fastest-selling new craft products in America. Currently, Small Town Brewery makes three varieties—a 5.9 ABV hard root beer sold in six-packs as well as limited versions of 10.7 ABV and 19.5 ABV.
STONE BREWING CO.
Founded in 1996, San Diego-based Stone Brewing Co. is the ninth largest craft brewer in the United States and was twice named the “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine. The west-coast craft, sustainability-focused company will be the first American craft brewer to own and operate its own brewery in Europe. Their first and flagship beer is the Stone Pale Ale, featuring Mandarina Bavaria hops which present bright flavors of peach and orange against a crisp, spicy backdrop. Their wide-ranging portfolio of year-round, seasonal, special releases and collaborations include the Smoked Porter, the Go To IPA and the Coffee Milk Stout.
TRAVELER BEER CO
Inspired by the European Shandy tradition, Traveler Beer Company is a creative craft brewer focused on adding unorthodox flavors to old traditions.