The craft beer renaissance has produced an ... - Allagash Brewing

The craft beer renaissance has produced an ... - Allagash Brewing

By Lauren Buzzeo photographs By jon van gorder

The craft beer renaissance has produced an overwhelming

number of brands and styles. Here is a guide to the

breweries whose products consistently rise to the top.

t more than 1,700, the number of breweries

in the U.S. is higher than any time since

the late 1800s,” notes Paul Gatza, director

of the Brewers Association. “Beer lovers’

appreciation for American craft brewers

and their craft beers continue to grow.”

But with that increased adoration and fervor

comes a market that offers more choice than ever before.

Increased space is being devoted to artisanal selections, but

the sheer number of options can be intimidating.

So many names. So many styles. What’s a shopper to do?

While the best advice is to try as many different kinds of

beers from as many breweries as you can, that might not be

the most economical approach. To offer some guidance, we

created this guide with some of the best names to look for

while perusing your local distributor’s shelves.

The Biggest Little Giants, for example: It might seem

like these names are everywhere, but in reality they only

represent a small portion of the American beer market—

the giant breweries still reign supreme. Consider that in

2010, the total craft brewing sales share was 4.9% by volume,

according to the Brewers Association. That means out

of all of the beer sold, less than 5% was from a domestic craft

(small, independent and traditional) brewing company.

In addition to the five “little giants,” there are numerous

other breweries crafting distinctive and intriguing beers.

We list 10 domestic companies that rank in the Top 50 in domestic

craft beer sales—some of which you know, and some

you will come to know as they become increasingly available.

You’ll also find selections for the craft beer hunter,

international superstars and some wild boys: brewmasters

creating brett-inoculated (and other wild bacteria-infused)

selections. There is so much to say about each of these companies,

we ran out of room, but you can find the complete

version of this article on

Although it’s impossible to list all of the great breweries

out there, consider this a jumping off point for when you

dive into your beer-tasting adventure.

44 | wine enthusiast | august 2011 | 45

*Ranking by case sales in 2010, as determined by the Brewers Association

*#1 Boston Beer Co.

Boston, Ma

The major player on the craft beer scene remains

BBC, brewer of Samuel Adams and the iconic Boston

Lager. It represents a pinnacle of quality and

consistency that’s available from coast to coast.

#2 sierra nevada Brewing Co.

ChiCo, Ca

Through the tremendous success of its Pale Ale,

Sierra Nevada has become a staple on beer shelves

across America. Its exceptional brews don’t end

there, with other year-round offerings, seasonals

and limited selections.

#3 new BeLgiuM Brewing Co.

Fort CoLLins, Co

Fat Tire, the flagship amber ale from New Belgium,

is currently distributed in 26 states. New

Belgium also releases a special series called

Lips of Faith in addition to its year-round lineup.

#5 desChutes Brewery

Bend, or

Deschutes produces remarkable core brands and

a handful of some serious cult items like The Dissident,

The Abyss and Black Butte XX/XXI.

#11 dogFish head CraFt Brewery

MiLton, de

Though they’re #11, Dogfish made serious strides

in 2010 (they were #16 in 2009) and will only continue

to develop thanks to increased exposure and

brewery expansion. Sam Calagione’s “off-centered

stuff for off-centered people” are some of the most

unique and forward-thinking brews today.

46 | wine enthusiast | august 2011

BeLL’s Brewery, inC.

gaLesBurg, Mi

The brewery just can’t keep up

with current demand. Since

starting in 1985 they have

grown to produce 20 beers

distributed across 18 states.

harpoon Brewery

Boston, Ma

Harpoon’s UFO wheat beers are

some of the most popular, while

their 100 Barrel Series keeps

things fresh and unpredictable.


Brewing Co.

Kansas City, Mo

Founder John McDonald built a

brand known for using both

traditional and avant-garde

brewing techniques.

aLasKan Brewing


juneau, aK

ABC’s beers reflect Juneau’s

brewing tradition and innovation

through their historic Alaskan

Amber recipe and ingredients

like alder-smoked malts and Sitka

spruce tips.

stone Brewing Co.

esCondido, Ca

Stone has posted double-digit

growth every year thanks to its

Arrogant Bastard lineup, special

releases and collaborations.

BrooKLyn Brewery

BrooKLyn, ny

Brooklyn Brewery’s flagship

lager is among the top drafts in

NYC, while brewmaster Garrett

Oliver works tirelessly to promote

the industry through

consumer education.

FuLL saiL

Brewing Co.

hood river, or

Full Sail produces beers with a

local mindset; hops and barley are

sourced from neighboring farms

and water is tapped from a spring

on Mount Hood.

new gLarus

Brewing Co.

new gLarus, wi

Since 1993, New Glarus has won

countless awards. Unfortunately,

due to high demand, these outstanding

beers are only available

in Wisconsin.


Brewing Co.

downingtown, pa

Brewmaster and President Bill

Covaleski’s training in Germany

helped him craft cult favorites like

HopDevil and Prima Pils, blending

traditional methods with a

modern twist.

odeLL Brewing Co.

Fort CoLLins, Co

Always pushing the boundaries,

Odell is a trendsetter—the use of

techniques like assorted barrel aging

and yeast cultivation.

Brettanomyces, a winery’s

worst enemy, has found

a welcome home in a

number of craft breweries.

While Brett is notoriously

tough to control and the

resulting characteristics

imparted are often unpredictable,

these wild boys

take their chances with

Brett-inoculated (and other

wild bacteria-infused)

selections that are sure to

knock your socks off.




The Italian craft

beer scene has

been gaining

momentum, and at

the forefront is Teo

Musso and his Birrificio

Baladin’s birra artigianale.

48 | wine enthusiast | august 2011


Brewing Co.

portLand, Me

Allagash is known for

its Belgian-inspired

beginnings and

styled brews, melded

with an affinity for


Barrel aging, wine

grapes and a house Brett strain

keeps these wild ones on the

forefront of beer innovation.






Of particular note is

what was dubbed the

#1 beer of 2009 by WE,

Rosso e Marrone, an

American sour ale fermented

with grapes and aged

in oak barrels.




Though Brewdog

made a splash with

the release of The End

of History, a 55% abv

brew that came in a

taxidermied animal,

it’s what’s inside the

bottles that people are

talking about.





new zeaLand

With five classic selections

and a collaborative

nature that birthed

the world’s first tree-tomato

joLLy puMpKin

artisan aLes

dexter, Mi

Through open fermentation,

oak barrel

aging and bottle conditioning,

JP strives

to create traditional,

rustic country style

beers with a modern

American craft twist.

russian river

Brewing Co.

santa rosa,



Pliny the Elder is this

brewery’s popular

year-round behemoth,

but with

names like Temptation,


and Supplication in their barrelaged

series, you know it’s some

serious stuff.

beer, be sure to keep an eye on

these guys to see what’s next.

nøgne ø



Nøgne Ø (“naked

island”) currently

produces more than

20 different styles and

exports more than 70%

of its production.




Unibroue has established

its reputation

by producing some of

the best Belgian-styled

beers this side of

the Atlantic.

the Lost


san MarCos,


This producer of “inspired

beer for sinners

and saints alike”

follows its own Ten


including “fresh beer

is great, aged beer is

better.” The sign over its barrel

room reads In Illa Brettanomyces,

Nos Fides (“In wild yeast we


For the CraFt

Beer hunter

If you’re looking to broaden your

beer horizons, start looking for

these frothy treasures.

avery Brewing Co.

BouLder, Co

Cigar City Brewing Co.

taMpa, FL

Founders Brewing Co.

grand rapids, Mi

LeFt hand Brewing Co.

LongMont, Co

ninKasi Brewing Co.

eugene, or

sMuttynose Brewing Co.

portsMouth, nh

southern tier Brewing Co.

LaKewood, ny

the Bruery

pLaCentia, Ca

three FLoyds

Munster, in

uinta Brewing Co.

saLt LaKe City, ut

For more information on these

breweries worth the search,

click on


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