Like Mexican-Style Lagers? Here are 11 Craft Beers You Should Try

Chances are, you’ve occasionally thrown back a few bottles of a popular Mexican amber lager. Maybe you drank them before you got into craft beer and now they make you nostalgic, or maybe you harbor dreams of being the Most Interesting Man  — or Woman — in the World. Whatever the reason, the popularity of Mexican-style lagers persists even among seasoned craft beer drinkers.

But what is a Mexican-style lager in the first place? The category does not explicitly appear in the Beer Judge Certification Program or Great American Beer Festival style guidelines. Tracking down the roots of this summer quencher requires a brief history lesson.

Roots of the Mexican-style Lager

Modern Mexican lagers find their origin in the late 19th century when German and Austrian immigrants began brewing the beers of their homeland in Mexico. When Austria’s Maximilian I declared himself emperor of Mexico in 1864, he brought his nation’s newly beloved Vienna lager with him. The beer proved more popular in Mexico than Maximilian, who was executed just a few years later. The Vienna lager became the dominant beer in Mexico entering the 20th century.

The Viennese lager is widely regarded as an original lager style. The beer shared its name with the Austrian city where brewer Anton Dreher first brewed it with an isolated lager yeast, revolutionary for its time. The combination of the new lager yeast and the invention of high-temperature-controlled malting yielded a reddish beer, from the Vienna malt that was clean tasting due to the yeast. As the taste for lighter-flavored beers spread throughout Mexico and the rest of the world in the 20th Century, the character and color of these traditional lagers changed with the times. Today, Vienna-style lagers vary quite widely in color and body, a development that can be seen in today’s import offerings.

Craft Brewers Put a Spin on Mexican-style Lagers

Both traditional and modern versions of Mexican-style lagers have been embraced by small and independent craft brewers here in the United States. If you’re planning a Cinco de Mayo party, check out one of these Mexican-style lagers brewed north of the border.

Ska Brewing | Mexican Logger

Ska’s cleverly named Mexican Logger was the first of the American craft Mexican-style lagers, launched in 1999. The Colorado brewery has made quite a success of this 5.2% ABV beer, winning a silver medal at GABF in 2015 in the American-Style or International-Style Pilsener category, and winning bronze in the same field in 2016. Co-founder Dave Thibodeau explains the founders used to be closeted Pacifico drinkers, which lead to their development of an American version of the classic summer style. “With Mexican Logger,” he explains, “we took a style we loved, one-upped it a bit, and threw a craft spin to make it our own.”

Oskar Blues Brewery | Beerito Mexican Lager

Just one year old, Beerito has already become a national favorite for those seeking an all-day summer beer with a Mexican flair. While it boasts the lowest alcohol level on this list at 4% ABV, it’s certainly not low in character. Oskar Blues, the brewery that created Ten Fidy, Old Chub and Dale’s Pale Ale, wasn’t going to skimp on flavor. Aiming for a light beer with deep complexity, the brewery achieved it with a carefully chosen grain bill comprised of German and Colorado-grown malts that produce toasty, nutty flavors complemented by plum and honey notes and crisp German hops.

Great Lakes Brewing Company | Grandes Lagos

Cleveland’s venerable Great Lakes Brewing Company is known for brewing classic European lager and ale styles. Its beers are characterized by refinement and quality rather than daring experimentation, so it was surprising to everyone when it announced in early 2016 a new year-round brew would be a Mexican-style lager brewed with hibiscus flowers. The new 5.4% ABV brew is the more extroverted cousin of its esteemed Eliot Ness Amber Lager, a classic Vienna lager. Where Eliot Ness showcases class, Grandes Lagos goes for charisma, offering lightly tart and sweet floral aromas and flavors from the hibiscus and a charming soft pink glow.

21st Amendment Brewery | El Sully

Named after 21st Amendment co-founder and brewmaster Shaun O’Sullivan, El Sully was inspired by the popular Mexican beers O’Sullivan drank while growing up near the beach in Southern California. It started out as a draft-only brew at the San Francisco taproom before making the jump to cans in 2015. This 4.8% ABV quencher uses German Pilsener malt for a clean, refined base, with just a bit of flaked maize to lighten the body. A Mexican lager yeast strain produces subtle spicy, herbal notes. O’Sullivan said he likes to tell people, “El Sully is what Modelo dreams of when it goes to bed at night.”

Tractor Brewing Company | New Mexican Lager

Brand-spanking-new in 16-ounce cans for May 2017, New Mexican Lager pays tribute to Tractor Brewing’s border-state heritage. The artwork for the cans features a New Mexico landscape and was created by Albuquerque artist David Santiago, who has designed a number of the brewery’s labels. At 5.6% ABV, this lager is designed to be light enough for the dry weather of the Southwest, while having the body to stand up to hearty borderland cuisine. The brewery claims the golden brew is neither Mexican nor American, but an homage to both traditions that is distinctly New Mexican.

Anchor Brewing | Los Gigantes

Mexican beer and the great American pastime come together in the newest offering from the Bay Area’s esteemed Anchor Brewing. Los Gigantes Mexican-Style Lager is a collaboration between the brewery and Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants franchise and marks the second beer to come from the partnership. The first crack of the bat is the sound that signals summer’s arrival for baseball fans and Anchor hopes this 4.5% ABV refresher will taste just like that. Anchor’s first beer offered in 16-ounce. cans, this light lager is brewed with pale malt and flaked maize and seasoned with Cluster and Tettnang hops.

Flying Dog Brewery | Numero Uno Summer Cerveza

Edgy East Coast brewery Flying Dog got the idea for this lager brewed with agave nectar and lime peel from one of its employees, who suggested the brew at the company’s annual retreat. Originally released as Agave Cerveza in 2014, the beer was intended to be a limited seasonal offering but did so well it was added to the year-round portfolio the next year as Summer Cerveza. Brewmaster Ben Clark says more than one-third of the malt bill is comprised of flaked maize, leading to “a crisp, refreshing beer.”

Lone Tree Brewing | Summer Siesta

Colorado’s Lone Tree won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2015 in the American-Style Lager or Light Lager category for Summer Siesta, and the first-ever cans of the beer should be rolling down the canning line as this article goes to publish. Head brewer Josh Wast says the beer is brewed with Pilsner and six-row malt and “a huge amount of flaked corn.” Sitting at a comfortable 5.3% ABV, Summer Siesta is fermented with a very clean lager yeast and finished with German hops for a crisp, refreshing take on this south-of-the-border style.

Lucky Star Brewery | Ojos Locos Mexican Lager

Travel to Miamisburg, Ohio, to try this draft-only lager (the brewery is planning to bottle it soon) and you just might get the most authentic Mexican drinking experience on this list, because Lucky Star’s taproom is modeled after a Mexican cantina. Authentic tacos, quesadillas and house-made salsas provide appropriate culinary pairings for this 4.8% ABV lager. Ojos Locos is brewed with a Mexican yeast that dries the beer out, leaving an easy gateway beverage for the macro beer drinkers who come in asking for their favorite national brands, says owner and brewmaster Glen Perrine. This clean fermentation profile is accentuated by Saaz hops for a crisp beer that is best enjoyed on Lucky Star’s “Pink Party Patio” when weather allows.

Epic Brewing | Los Locos Lager

Inspired by the audacious Mexican restaurant Los Chingones (Google it) not far from Epic’s Denver brewery, Los Locos Lager is truly unique. The sunny brew features sea salt and lime, making this beer perfect for a day at the beach. Los Locos was initially intended to be a limited collaboration with Los Chingones and was first only available at the restaurant, but Epic brewers soon realized they had a winner on their hands, canned it, and made it available across their distribution territory.

Indeed Brewing | Mexican Honey Imperial Lager

When this Minneapolis brewery first received a shipment of Mexican orange blossom honey, the sticky ingredient wasn’t intended to headline one of its beers. But according to Indeed’s head brewer Josh Bischoff, “We were so impressed with the characteristics of it, we decided to brew a beer to showcase it. Since the honey is from Mexico, the beer snowballed from there and created itself.” This beer clocks in at 8% ABV, and isn’t at all what you expect from a typical Mexican-style lager, providing what the brewery describes as “a citrus and floral fiesta,” one probably better suited to toasting the close of your Cinco de Mayo party than kicking it off.

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Boise Beer Travel: The Quiet Ascent of a Rich Beer Culture


It’s been said that if Portland, Oregon, and Bend, Oregon, had a baby, it would be Boise, Idaho. There’s merit to this claim. Boise residents are an outdoor-loving lot. The area’s warm, dry climate is conducive to exploring nearly 200 miles of hiking and biking trails minutes from downtown. The Bogus Basin ski area is a short drive from the city. Trout fishing is as close as the Boise River, which runs through downtown. A 25-mile multi-use path meanders along the river’s edge.


Boise residents are enamored of all things local, especially beer. If the Boise beer scene has little visibility outside of Idaho, this is due more to the city’s geographic isolation than a lack of options. In recent years, the city has quietly amassed an impressive collection of breweries and brewpubs. New brewing businesses are in the works, and recent expansions are evidence of a thriving beer culture.

Boise Beer Travel: Exploring Downtown

A great way to begin exploring “The City of Trees” is with a stroll through Freak Alley. The back walls of a series of buildings along intersecting alleyways sport a sizable collection of murals in an attention-grabbing diversity of styles. In the heart of the downtown district, Boise Brewing opened in 2014 following a successful Kickstarter campaign in which investors received stock in the brewery. Dividends are paid in beer. The interior of the blue and mustard-colored concrete block structure is dominated by the open brewhouse. Tall, stainless steel vessels loom over the bar and tables. The brewery’s rich and roasty Black Cliff’s American Stout has won back-to-back GABF gold medals. If you love talking beer, you’re in the right place. The four female beer servers are all homebrewers. Boise Brewing opened in 2014.

It’s a short walk to the Bittercreek Alehouse, Boise’s premier gastropub. The food is well-prepared and the 44 draught beers have a largely local focus. In fact, the beer menu lists the distance to each brewery from the restaurant. Also nearby is a great breakfast spot named BACON. The name says it all.

On the fringes of downtown, Payette Brewing resides in a handsome new facility along the Boise River Greenbelt. Since beginning operations in 2010, Payette has grown into one of Idaho’s largest and most respected brewing businesses. It’s hard to miss the expansive modern industrial building with a huge mountain mural painted on an exterior wall. The 60-barrel production brewhouse is visible through a glass wall at the far end of the airy tasting room. Nineteen house beers include three full-time IPAs, reflecting local beer enthusiasts’ obsession with hoppy ales.

Payette Brewing

Payette Brewing sits along the Boise River Greenbelt.

North of downtown, Boise’s historic North End is considered “Old Boise.” As you travel between the neighborhood’s two breweries, take some time to explore the leafy side streets lined with lovingly restored century-old homes. Tucked in the corner of a large shopping complex called the “Marketplace,” Cloud 9 Brewery offers a comfy retreat. A pleasant outdoor patio is warmed by space heaters for cool weather imbibing. The back half of the modestly-sized interior consists of the glassed-in four-barrel brewhouse. There’s an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients for both the made-from-scratch kitchen creations and the half-dozen rotating specialty beers that supplement six full-time offerings.


Highlands Hollow Brewhouse, the granddaddy of Boise breweries, has operated as a brewpub since 1992, but its restaurant roots date from the 1960s. Located at the base of the road to the Bogus Basin Ski Area, “The Hollow” has long been a popular refueling stop following a day of mountain recreation. The atmospheric brick and dark wood indoor space includes a circular fireplace in the middle of the dining room, a collection of vintage ski posters and a well-worn ambiance that can’t be reproduced. The house beers rotate regularly, but are largely styles of British origin.

Boise Breweries Outside the City Center

Boise’s energized beer scene has given rise to a growing number of brewing business scattered in outlying areas. Garden City, despite its bucolic moniker, is a mostly industrial enclave about five miles from downtown Boise. Cheap leases and free water have fueled the opening of a cluster of breweries in recent years. Biking the river trail to Garden City for a tasting session is a popular weekend activity.

Sockeye Brewing

Sockeye Brewing is about 10 miles outside of the Boise city center.

For a small mom-and-pop operation, Barbarian Brewing gets a disproportionate amount of attention among local craft beer devotees. Boise’s most talked-about brewery opened in 2015 with a unique focus on sour and barrel-aged creations. The brewery’s two-room tasting area is a small and inviting space to sample an assortment of 15 sour and “clean” house beers. The most popular is Beta Wolf 2.0, a sour IPA brewed with mango and passionfruit. Seven rotating taps feature experimental creations such as Folkvang, a tart Berliner Weisse made with strawberries, cardamom and rosewater. Barbarian is gearing up for the opening of a downtown Boise taproom in summer, 2017.

Just a mile down the road, two-year-old Bella Brewing occupies an unpretentious concrete block structure. A few tables and a bar populate the indoor space, with brewing vessels lined up along interior walls. As is the norm in hop-intensive Boise, the IPA is the most popular of the 13 house beers which run the gamut of pale, amber, dark, tart and fruited fermentations.

About 10 miles west of the city center, oft-decorated Sockeye Brewing has built an attractive restaurant and imposing production brewing facility. The vast mountain lodge-style dining room features log beams and columns and a spacious outdoor patio. A 15-beer draught collection includes six core beers of familiar styles augmented with seasonal, specialty, sour and barrel-aged offerings. The brewing operation, which is among the state’s largest, is housed in a separate structure behind the restaurant. Sockeye also operates a second, smaller-capacity brewpub closer to downtown.

Mad Swede

Jerry and Susie Larson are the owners of Mad Swede Brewing in Boise.

With a regional mall just a mile away, the dining room of Edge Brewing Company does a brisk business with shoppers and families. Surprisingly, the brewpub’s best-selling beer is the big, burly, 9% ABV Obligatory DIPA. That suits the Edge brew crew just fine. They make no apologies for their fondness for high-gravity, indulgently-hopped ales. At any given time, you’re likely to find three or four 9%-plus beers on tap. If imperial-strength ales aren’t your forte, you’ll find an assortment of more approachable offerings such as the clean and agreeable Vienna Lager.

It’s fitting to call the beers of Mad Swede Brewing Company “well-engineered.” Co-founder and brewer Jerry Larson was a long-time mechanical engineer before he and wife Susie opened what is currently Boise’s newest brewery in 2016. Larson gets the most out of his fine-tuned 15-barrel brewing system, producing bright, well-attenuated, satisfying ales. The eight house beers dispensed in the small cheery tasting room have a bias toward dark styles. As the closest brewery to the airport, Mad Swede is a great introduction to the Boise beer scene, or a final stop if you’re departing the city by plane.

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 Top 50 US Craft Breweries

The Brewers Association (BA) released its annual ranking of the Top 50 U.S. Craft Brewing Companies Wednesday, saying the breweries on the list are “providing optimism” in a “dynamic time for the brewing community.”

More than 5,200 breweries are operating in the U.S. right now, which is more than any other time in the nation’s history.

“With such a broad range of brewers in today’s beer landscape, the more advanced producers have helped build the industry to what it is today,” says the BA’s chief economist, Bart Watson.

The BA (publishers of is the national organization that represents more than 70 percent of those 5,200 U.S. breweries. The BA board of directors is the body that sets the definition of a craft brewer.

  • Small – Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships.
  • Independent – Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
  • Traditional – A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

The Top 50 list ranks craft brewers based on beer sales volume in 2016.

Top 50 US Craft Breweries


What’s changed since the Top 50 list released in 2016? Here are a few things that jumped out at us:

  • Troegs Independent Brewing in Hershey, Pennsylvania, jumps from 45 in 2015 to 38 in 2016.
  • Twenty-two states are represented on the list.
  • Roughly 20 percent of the breweries in the Top 50 call California home.

Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits and Lagunitas Brewing Company are absent from this year’s list after previously being included in the top 15 last year as they no longer fit the Brewers Association definition of a craft brewer due to the ownership of more than 25 percent by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer. Ballast Point is now owned by Constellation Brands, while Heineken owns 50 percent stake in Lagunitas.

Class of 2016: 34 of the Best New Breweries in the US

In a year when a whopping 861 breweries joined the ranks of America’s booming beer industry, choosing favorites is an almost impossible task. A decade ago that number represented more than half of the national total. So, to help us build our annual feature on brewery openings, we asked our readers, followers, and contributors for their suggestions. Here are 34 of the most promising newcomers, as chosen by you.


River Roost Brewery
Most Vermont stops along New England’s beer trail are found within a 45-minute drive from Burlington. River Roost’s Mark Babson is expanding that radius to the village of White River Junction in Hartford. As owner and brewmaster, Babson is a one-man band assembling a quiver of hoppy styles with his 10-barrel brewhouse—standouts include Glimpse DIPA and Martian Moon House IPA. An alum of Magic Hat, Babson considers commercial tutelage a prerequisite to opening a brewery. But as his experience grew, so did his desire to branch off. “I got into [brewing] so that I could make my own beer and not have to crank out the same thing every day,” he shrugs. What’s next? More hoppy beer for sure, but he winks and adds that he has several long fermentation projects tucked away in oak barrels. [Benjamin Whitney]


Foam Brewers
Stumble into a retrofitted 19th-century timber plant on Burlington’s waterfront and you’re likely to find three things: a gangly mustached man with rubber boots, pungent wort emitting steam from a 7-barrel brewhouse, and raucous ’90s alt music that serves as inspiration for the DIPAs Built To Spill and Pavement. The man behind the mustache is Todd Haire, a 20-year craft veteran and brewmaster of Vermont’s most recent obsession—Foam Brewers. Haire, together with four co-owners, is building an ambitious portfolio of hoppy ales, Saisons, and mixed-culture sours. Just nine months after opening, patrons are already demanding increased volume and distribution. But Haire is keeping his head down. “Our focus will be on having the quality and control of everything we do within these four walls. Ultimately, that’s what we are driving to do.” [Benjamin Whitney]

College of William & Mary

Foulmouthed Brewing Co.

Craig and Julia Dilger brought Foulmouthed Brewing to South Portland, Maine, to pour an eclectic mix of brews into one of America’s best beer cities. You won’t find flagships on Foulmouthed’s six ever-changing tap lines. “[Our] experimental brewing philosophy … has led us to produce over 25 unique beers in our first few months of operation,” says Craig Dilger. One standout is their take on a wheat Saison named Iron Goddess, brewed with honey and tea. For 2017, “we just started our barrel-aging and bottling program and are planning to set up a solera array for blending Brett Saisons,” Craig Dilger says. “But for now we are draft-only, serving the vast majority of our beer right over the bar in the brewpub.” [Matt Osgood]

Kevin Teruya

Suarez Family Brewery
A few months before the birth of their first child, Dan Suarez (of Hill Farmstead) and Taylor Cocalis Suarez opened their highly anticipated “mom-and-pop production brewery,” which has quickly emerged as a standout. With a focused approach that “emphasizes attention to detail as it pertains to brewing process and technique,” Dan Suarez groups the beers into three categories: unfiltered lagers (Palatine Pils); bright and flavorful low-alcohol ales (Walk, Don’t Run, a hoppy Blonde); and “country beers,” oak-aged Saisons and farmhouse ales of mixed fermentation, utilizing locally grown grains (Triangular Nature, driven by Brettanomyces, brewed with raw buckwheat, and matured briefly in wine barrels). A visit to the charming tasting room is the surest bet to find these releases, though the brewery also self-distributes as far as Troy and New York City. [Niko Krommydas]


Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Co.
Matthew Steinberg has brewed beer across Massachusetts as a veteran of Mayflower, High Horse, and Blatant. Now, as co-founder and brewmaster at Exhibit ‘A,’ Steinberg collaborates with nearby Valley Malt to customize the grains for each brew, giving him “enormous freedom and creative control.” From what was formerly the Jack’s Abby brewery, Steinberg cranks out drinkable brews like The Cat’s Meow IPA with Citra, Mosaic, and El Dorado hops, and Goody Two Shoes, a traditional Kölsch “with a little modern twist.” Next up for Steinberg is a sour program, a whiskey barrel-aged Barleywine, and a series called the Mindset Project, in which “we explore hops and malt within the Pale Ale style.” [Matt Osgood]

Matt Osgood

Brewport Brewing Co.
A dedication to brewing history sets Brewport apart from its peers nationwide. Brewmaster Jeff Browning has been an amateur beer historian since he collected cans in the 1970s, and mixes in pre-Prohibition beer recipes along with his own new creations at this sprawling brewpub that also features brick oven pizza. Browning says the 10,000-batch sheets he’s acquired from regional breweries of yesteryear are often lovingly detailed, down to the pre-brewing room temperature. Some predate the “new” fresh-hopped New England-style IPA by more than 100 years. “The current atmosphere in craft brewing in New England is actually similar beer-wise to what was being brewed back then,” he says. “Now we get to experience history one beer at a time.” [Will Siss]

Narrow Gauge Brewing Co.

Interboro Spirits & Ales
In a former woodworking shop in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Jesse Ferguson (of New Jersey’s Carton Brewing and Brooklyn’s Other Half) and Laura Dierks have built Interboro Spirits & Ales, New York City’s first combined brewery and distillery. Both helmed by Ferguson, the 30-barrel brewing system is mere feet (or fingertips) away from the 240-gallon still. The brewery focuses on hashtag-inducing hop-forward ales, many with hip-hop-inspired names like La Dee Da Dee and The Next Episode. Ferguson hopes Interboro will “break down the arbitrary barriers that have been set up between beer and spirits.” Expect future projects like a Saison and a gin derived from the same mash and infused with identical botanicals, apéritifs flavored with different hop varieties, and a Barleywine aged in barrels that previously matured a rye whiskey. [Niko Krommydas]


Northern Germany

Industrial Arts Brewing Co.
Former Peekskill Brewery and Ithaca Beer Co. brewmaster Jeff “Chief” O’Neil branched out on his own for this spanking new Hudson Valley facility in the historic Garnerville Arts & Industrial Center. The brewery’s stunning pre-Civil War brick exterior is juxtaposed by O’Neil’s tricked-out, fully automated brewhouse—a shiny, custom-built 25-hectoliter number from Germany’s BrauKon. O’Neil uses it to make a variety of hop-forward beers including his flagship Tools of the Trade Extra Pale Ale, the sessionable Safety Glasses IPA, and the rotating-hop series State of the Art Double IPA. Industrial Arts currently distributes drafts throughout the entirety of the Empire State and will roll out 16-ounce tallboy cans of its crushable hoppy ales in the coming months. [Justin Kennedy]


Rick Bayless

Birds Fly South Ale Project
In a former cotton warehouse, brewmaster-blender Shawn Johnson and his wife Lindsay are producing remarkable sours and Saisons with an array of barrels and foeders. Handsomely built with recycled wooden beams, the tasting room features rotating taps where the creative juices are always flowing. Johnson uses mixed fermentations, incorporating wild yeast, Brettanomyces, stainless, and a variety of wooden vessels. The resulting blends, such as Rumblefish, a Pale Ale with Brett, and Brand New Eyes, a Saison fermented in red wine barrels, come from the solera method of blending over time in puncheons. The twist is adding fresh beer before tapping, and sticking with ambient temperatures year-round, which changes things up. “We are progressively old school,” says Shawn Johnson. [Jonathan Ingram]

Sarah Bennett

The Virginia Beer Co.
The Virginia Beer Co. has four flagship beers—a dry-hopped Amber Ale, an IPA, a citrus wheat, and an Oatmeal Stout—but brewmaster Jonathan Newman’s main focus is on experimentation. “Beer is a work in progress,” he says. “It’s an expression of ideas that are coming to fruition.” Newman develops a new beer each week; past creations have included a Grätzer-style smoked ale, stupendously hopped IPAs, a Bière de Garde, and a molasses wheat beer made in collaboration with the Virginia Historical Society. Formerly an auto garage, the tasting room in downtown Williamsburg near owners Chris Smith and Robby Willey’s alma mater, The College of William & Mary, has reclaimed-wood tables and stone fire pits outside, all with an unobstructed view of the latest beer under development inside. [Taylor Pilkington]


The Veil Brewing Co.
If you spot tall white clouds billowing from the roof of Richmond’s The Veil Brewing this winter, don’t be alarmed. Head brewer Matt Tarpey and partners Dustin Durrance and Dave Michelow have built a 15-barrel coolship room for spontaneous fermentation atop the building—and it gets steamy. In the wide taproom that’s stylish but spartan (poured concrete, high ceilings, movie-marquee lights), you can taste the resulting Lambic-style beers that are aged in barrels for up to four years. Although The Veil is most known for its hazy, New England-style IPAs (appropriate considering Tarpey’s background at The Alchemist and Hill Farmstead in Vermont), the brewer is quick to dispel the notion that he’s following a trend: “This is not a marketing ploy for me. I make this style of IPA because it’s what I know, and what I love.” [Taylor Pilkington]


Bond Brothers Beer Co.
The work being done at Bond Brothers Beer Co. may sound familiar: They’ve got a barrel program (64 now, set to double in 2017), make beloved IPAs that range from clear to hazy, and offer an array of rotating brews on 14 taps, from one-offs to IPA and Imperial Stout variants. But there’s more to the picture. “We’re small enough where people who like our beer can try something new every time they come in for a drink,” says brewmaster Whit Baker. Despite nearly 200 breweries in North Carolina, people pack the spacious taproom and 3,000-square-foot beer garden on weekends. While the approach may sound similar to others, Bond Brothers’ attention to detail is paying off. “Everything we do is a form of artistic expression,” says co-owner Jay Bond. [Bryan Roth]

College of William & Mary

Scofflaw Brewing Co.
At a pristine, highly functional Atlanta brewery self-installed by co-founders Matt Shirah and Travis Herman, Scofflaw launched with a series of innovative, bold, and dramatic IPAs. Yet, they are amazingly approachable. “We make what we like,” says Shirah, “and we hope others like them, too.” Herman, a microbiologist with U.C. Davis credentials and stints at top California breweries (Lost Abbey, Russian River), creates cutting-edge American IPAs with his own deft brewhouse tweaks. Whether it’s Basement (a tropical Northeast-style IPA), Westside, (classic, piney West Coast-style IPA), Double Jeopardy (a Pliny-worthy robust imperial) or small-batch Hooligan (a rich blast of hops), Herman essentially has his own style. With 7,000 barrels of annual capacity, Scofflaw has yet to catch up with demand in metro Atlanta. [Jonathan Ingram]

Kevin Teruya

Durty Bull Brewing Co.
Starting with 30 barrels and two foeders, Durty Bull Brewery is building a following in Durham by focusing on what Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus can offer local beer lovers. At a time when what’s wild is also what’s popular, head brewer Chris Davis’ kettle sours, Belgian-inspired table beers, and a Brett IPA, among others, are a way for Durty Bull to find a singular footing in the Tar Heel State. “A lot of brewers now do a kettle sour or a Gose here or there, but our goal is to fill that full niche, from intro sour beers to extreme,” says Matt Pennisi, manager at Durty Bull. “The industry is going toward more weird and funky beers, and that’s where we’re going to be known [for].” [Bryan Roth]

Midwest & Mountains


Dovetail Brewery
“We don’t do IPAs,” says Hagen Dost. Dovetail, the brewery and tasting room he co-founded with brewing school buddy (and fellow certified master brewer) Bill Wesselink, focuses on traditional brewing methods—as Dost puts it, “the kind you’d find in a family run brewery in the middle of Bavaria or Belgium.” All of the beer is cooled in Chicago’s first coolship to remove volatile compounds that can lead to unpleasant aromas. The water they use in their lager is treated using reverse osmosis to mimic the water from Pilsen, where the Pilsner style originated. Dovetail’s beers may not be showy, but each one, from the Hefeweizen to the Vienna Lager, is treated with the same careful attention to detail. “There can be beauty in subtlety,” Dost says. [Julia Thiel]

Matt Osgood

Modist Brewing
Mod•ist: ’mä-dist: a person who modifies. This is the guiding precept of Modist’s founding foursome. They are tinkerers, whether working with wood, building motorcycles, or making beer. They toss style guidelines out the window. Recipes instead are built on questions about flavor. What does 100 percent wheat taste like? Or 70 percent rye? A boatload of oats? And they built a brewhouse to accommodate their explorations. Modist is one of just a handful of small breweries in the US with a mash filter—equipment normally reserved for macros pushing massive volume. It lets them use ingredients in ways that would be difficult on a normal system and achieve grain and water use efficiencies that would be impossible. The result is beer that tinkers with drinkers’ perceptions. [Michael Agnew]

Narrow Gauge Brewing Co.

New Image Brewing
Around Colorado, the word “transplant” evokes negative feelings about Californians driving up real estate prices and Texans who can’t ski. Native Georgians Brandon Capps and Sean Fisher, the young founders of New Image Brewing in the Denver suburb of Arvada, embrace the term. “We are here to make a positive difference in the community,” says Fisher. Fittingly, the brewpub’s biggest hit is East Coast Transplant, a hazy Vermont-style Double IPA that headlines a portfolio heavy on spiced beers and American sours. New Image also stands out for its commitment to mental wellbeing. The brewpub has staged several fundraisers for local mental health organizations, and its long wooden tables are meant to bring people together—Colorado natives and transplants alike. [Eric Gorski]

Northern Germany

Boiler Brewing Co.
“There is very little left to the imagination with Tim [Thomssen’s] beers,” says taproom manager Thad Aerts. “[They] all seem to end with an exclamation point.” Twenty-four rotating taps and one or two new releases every week give drinkers lots of bold choices, from brash IPAs to Belgian styles and the massive Koo Koo for Coconut Stout. The beers have also already garnered national attention with silver and bronze medals at the US Open Beer Championship. Even The Grand Manse, the building housing the brewery, makes a big statement. The historic, Beaux Arts Neoclassical structure was built in 1904 as a federal courthouse. Boiler Brewing occupies the former boiler room. The endcaps of two truck-sized boilers now adorn the exposed brick taproom walls. [Michael Agnew]

Rick Bayless

Cruz Blanca
Inspired by the 19th-century Mexico City brewery of the same name, Cruz Blanca cerveceria and taqueria opened its doors in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. The latest addition to Rick Bayless’ small empire (along with sister restaurant Leña Brava, which opened next door at the same time) serves a wide range of styles among the 11 beers on tap: Some, like the flagship Bière de Garde, are modern twists on the classic European styles that the Frenchman who founded the original Cruz Blanca would likely have been brewing, while others are modern standards like IPAs and Porters. Head brewer Jacob Sembrano is particularly excited about the small barrel-aging program he started recently, aging fairly neutral beers in bourbon, sherry, and rum barrels to create sours. “I try to make a canvas for refermentation,” he says. [Julia Thiel]

Sarah Bennett

Narrow Gauge Brewing Co.
Named after the railroad that connected Florissant to St. Louis in the 1870s, Narrow Gauge Brewing found a home in the former banquet space of Cugino’s, a beer-focused Italian bar and restaurant in the St. Louis suburbs co-owned by brewery co-founders Ben Goldkamp and Dave Beckham. Only available on tap at Cugino’s, the selection is hop heavy (hazy favorites Hoppy Meal Pale Ale and Fallen Flag IPA sell out fast). “Our customers are asking for IPAs, and IPAs are my go-to beer,” says co-founder and brewer Jeff Hardesty. “It has to do with the fact that we brew East Coast-style IPAs, and you don’t see a ton of those around here.” To meet demands, Hardesty has already tripled fermentor capacity in his 3-barrel brewhouse. [Bill Babbitt]


Mother Stewart’s Brewing Co.
Ohio’s long-defunct Springfield Metallic Casket Company was reborn as Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company thanks to an a multimillion-dollar project helmed by Kevin and John Loftis. The city’s first craft brewery features an 8,500-square-foot taproom and a 20-barrel brewing system, producing clean, traditional beers like a Vienna lager and Belgian Blonde. But what sets it apart is its 9,000-square-foot patio and grass-covered “playground.” “We focused on our backyard, creating a fun, family friendly environment, and a true community gathering spot,” says Kevin Loftis. Named after Springfield temperance advocate Eliza Daniel “Mother” Stewart, the end result is a place for mom and dad to enjoy a great beer on the patio while watching the kids play in the backyard—Mother Stewart’s backyard, that is. [Bill Babbitt]


American Solera
Chase Healey detached from his successful Prairie Artisan Ales project to open this experimental endeavor. He’s packed the new West Tulsa space with the gamut of oak fermentors—including barrels, casks, and a flock of foeders—to focus on long-fermented, mixed-culture wild ales. He also installed a coolship inside an open-on-both-ends shipping container for spontaneous ale production. “It’s an opportunity for me to practice and perfect as a brewer,” says Healey, “to become more hands-on again.” So far, he’s released several multistage fermented beers like Foeder Cerise, a sour Golden Ale aged on tart cherries for six months in Italian oak foeders. But it’s not all wood and funk—one of the latest releases, produced in a clean cellar in a separate building, is a canned Double IPA called Terpy Citra. [Justin Kennedy]

College of William & Mary

Bierstadt Lagerhaus
If you want a taste of Bierstadt Lagerhaus’ Slow Pour Pils, you’re going to have to wait. All told, it will take about five minutes for the Northern Germany-inspired Pilsner to arrive with the perfect foamy head poking out of the special glass designed to hold it. Brewing partners Bill Eye and Ashleigh Carter like to take their time. This makes sense since Bierstadt Lagerhaus exclusively brews labor-intensive lagers on its 30-barrel, 1930s copper system imported from Bavaria. “We think the classics are the classics for a reason—that they’ve stood the test of time,” Eye says. “We are not making anything with a twist.” The brewery’s three year-round beers—the Pils, a Helles, and a Dunkel—are expertly crafted new classics worth waiting for. [Eric Gorski]

Kevin Teruya

Round Town Brewery
Less than three months after opening its doors inside a renovated industrial building called the Biltwell Event Center, Round Town Brewery has already won the taste buds of Indy beer aficionados with its flagship Vienna lager and Happy Face Pale Ale, plus rotating selections like K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simcoe, Stupid), a West Coast-style IPA with Simcoe and Crystal hops. Owner and head brewer Jerry Sutherlin “isn’t out to create the next big thing or next weird style, but rather strives for quality and consistency above all else,” says co-owner Max Schenk. According to Schenk, who manages the taproom, Sutherlin’s true-to-style creations are already so popular, Round Town plans to add additional taps to the current six. [Robert Annis]

Pacific Northwest


Great Notion Brewing
From day one Great Notion’s motto has been, “With a passion for hops and the patience for sour.” And those would be trite, hollow words if the dual brewers—James Dugan and Andy Miller—didn’t put their mash where their mouth is. They debuted with signature IPAs Juice Box, Juice, Jr., and Ripe that had hopheads beating down the door for a taste—and crowlers to trade. Great Notion is Oregon’s master of the “hazy IPA” bursting with late-addition, fruit-throwing hops seemingly plucked from orchards and citrus groves. Add to this winning GABF silver, right out of the gate, in American-style Sour Ale for Heart of Gold—a barrel-aged Saison with peaches—and Great Notion is clearly Portland’s newest shining star. [Brian Yaeger]

Matt Osgood

Cloudburst Brewing
Steve Luke, Cloudburst’s owner and brewmaster, spent years honing his craft at places like Allagash, Rogue Issaquah, and recently wrapped up a four-year stint at Elysian. Among Seattle’s beer aficionados, Cloudburst’s was the most anticipated new brewery opening in ages. “Local beer lovers rooted for us from the day I announced my intentions to leave Elysian,” says Luke. “Their enthusiasm and thirst for small, local, independent beer continues to inspire me.” The bare-bones, cozy brewery and beer-only tasting room is located just two blocks away from Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market, which is where Luke regularly shops for the ever-changing fresh ingredients he uses to enhance each batch of Market Fresh Saison, like rosemary, cranberries, sage, grapefruit, or whatever happens to look good that day. [Kendall Jones]

Narrow Gauge Brewing Co.

Perihelion Brewery
In a city with over 60 breweries, every neighborhood in Seattle has at least one, but it wasn’t until 2016 that Beacon Hill got a brewery to call its own. A table or barstool inside this friendly little brewpub is highly coveted, but a covered patio with four propane fire pits offers year-round outdoor seating for stalwart beer lovers. You’ll usually find 11 house-brewed beers on tap to accompany the food, which is every bit as impressive as Les McAuliffe’s beer. “As longtime residents, I can’t think of any other neighborhood where I’d want to have my brewery,” says McAuliffe, who co-owns Perihelion with his wife, Karin Paulsen. “There wasn’t even a place to fill a growler on Beacon Hill and the community immediately embraced our venue as their own.” [Kendall Jones]


Northern Germany

Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery
There’s “local,” and then there’s Wolves & People. From owner Christian DeBenedetti’s family run hazelnut farm in rural Oregon, DeBenedetti and co-worker Zach Farrington pump out Grisettes, Saisons, and other Belgian-inspired offerings, relying heavily on ingredients like Pacific Northwest barley and local and farm-grown produce (heirloom rhubarb, white truffle, figs, and, yes, hazelnut). They’ve released 35 beers since opening, and are set on serious diversity in the future, unveiling everything from a canned Pilsener to a Saison conditioned with rose hip yeast. “I’m most proud of taking our family’s empty, historic barn and working to turn it into a vibrant brewery against all logistical and financial odds,” says DeBenedetti. “I’m also proud of the beers that we’ve brought to life here—especially our line of “Sebastian” Saisons, named for the Bavarian pioneer who named the city of Newberg and lived on the land where our farm is now.” [Brad Japhe]

Rick Bayless

Alesong Brewing & Blending
Co-founding brewmaster Matt Van Wyk says, “We look at the beers Alesong makes not unlike a musician creating a song. Both are creative endeavors, made for the pleasure of others. [They’re] not just a single note, nor a single instrument, [but] a harmonious blend of all the pieces resonating together.” When it comes to brewing barrel-aged beers, Van Wyk is no dilettante. Before Alesong, his bourbon-aged Barleywine, Wooden Hell, earned Floosmoor Station one of its four medals in 2006. He then spent years in Eugene at Oakshire creating a lasting legacy of barrel-aged strong ales (including GABF gold for Hellshire III in 2013). If Alesong’s 2016 GABF gold medal, in Brett Beer for Touch of Brett, is any indication, Van Wyk’s new soundtrack may resemble a choir of angels. [Brian Yaeger]

California, Hawaii & Southwest

Sarah Bennett

Helio Basin Brewing Co.
The unspoken and dirty secret of the craft brewing community has been a dearth of quality control at small-scale operations. That’s definitely not a problem at Helio Basin Brewing Company in Phoenix, Ariz. The 15-barrel brewpub is the product of co-owners Mike Conley and Dustin Hazer, the latter of whom was once the head brewer at Southern Tier Brewing Company and understands the meaning of quality control. “We wanted to do a brewpub that focused on high-quality beer and food,” says Hazer, “just keep it at that.” While Hazer manages the lineup of traditional-style beers, head chef Tamara Stanger runs the award-winning kitchen. Together, the small team at Helio Basin has quickly made it a popular gathering place for the local community. [Sean Lewis]


Arts District Brewing Co.
After a December soft opening, Arts District joined downtown Los Angeles’ suddenly dense craft brewing landscape in early 2016. The 15-barrel brewpub and local hang appeals to its namesake neighborhood with eclectic drafts and a lively gathering space. Less than a year into operation, it took home hardware from GABF, securing silver for Cowboy Curtis in the increasingly competitive Smoke Beer category. It’s a balanced take on a style that can be unforgivingly one-dimensional. Director of beer operations Brian Lenzo—a longtime fixture of the local craft scene—is also particularly fond of his brewery’s Double IPA, Crazy Gideon, as well as Velveteen Rabbit, its Oatmeal Stout. Thirsty patrons come for the signature brews, and linger for the skeeball and sausages. [Brad Japhe]


Brouwerij West
For six years, Brian Mercer drove from Los Angeles to the Bay Area twice a month to contract brew, then bottle, his traditional Belgian-style beers, releasing them under the name Brouwerij West, a nod to his industry roots as America’s first importer of Belgian candy syrup. Now Mercer unleashes his creativity at Brouwerij West’s new home: 56,000-square-foot WWII-era warehouse a block from the waterfront in San Pedro. “We’ve had lots more opportunity to expand our offerings,” he says. “We’re not so rigid.” Armed with a funky house strain brought in from his homebrew days, Mercer (along with head brewer Jeremy Czuleger) is putting out everything from 100 percent Brett beers to an unfiltered German Pilsner. A mash filter bought to increase water efficiency also allows for unconventional grain bills, meaning taproom-only one-offs could be spiked with rye, wheat, or spelt. [Sarah Bennett]

College of William & Mary

Beer Lab HI
Think of Hawaii and surfing, sun, pineapples, and pork might come to mind. Soon enough, at least if Beer Lab HI has its way, you may just think about Brettanomyces-fermented beer as well. Located in Honolulu, Oahu’s newest brewery specializes in Brett beers and is taking locals and tourists alike on a new South Pacific adventure. “Our concept is constantly trying to innovate new flavors for our public,” says co-owner Kevin Teruya. “In Hawaii we’re not exposed to as many beers as the mainland. We try to introduce as many new flavors as possible.” On their 7-barrel system, Teruya and co-owners Derek Taguchi and Nicolas Wong are turning out innovative interpretations of classic styles and redefining what it means to be a Hawaiian brewery. [Sean Lewis]

Kevin Teruya

Homage Brewing
Matt Garcia and Jeremiah Bignell know about building a creative project from scratch—both spent most of their adult lives as touring musicians before launching Homage, a storefront brewery in Pomona’s Arts Colony. There they explore their mutual love of funky, sour beers thanks to Bignell’s old homebrew barrels. “It’s hard to say what’s really in there at this point,” Bignell admits of the yeast mixture, which created a Lambic-like complexity that’s made them stand out among new sour-focused breweries. But the duo aren’t only doing mixed fermentation with their 5-barrel setup. About a quarter of the taproom-only beers are clean: IPAs and Pale Ales; Belgian Strong Ales; a Stout. A merch area is stocked with shirts that riff on famous punk album covers and everything is named after favorite songs or albums (Black Ales In The Sunset, Low End Theory). “Beer fills that creative void that I no longer put into music,” Garcia says. [Sarah Bennett] Source link


Big in Japan: Stouts in the Land of the Rising Sun

There’s no doubt about it: Stouts are huge in Japan. At the World Beer Cup in Philadelphia earlier this year, Japanese breweries claimed seven medals for the style, including two golds. “They are getting more recognition, it seems like,” says Hiroyuki Fujiwara, a beer judge and president of the Japan Beer Journalists’ Association. “For craft beer brewers, it’s more enjoyable to brew beer that’s different from our national brand, a lager,” he explains. “Somethingthat is very different is this black, round beer.”

Brewers in Japan have also discovered that Stouts provide ideal canvases for Japanese flavors. In Iwate Prefecture in the northeast, Iwate Kura uses local Sanriku oyster shells to add conspicuous umami undertones to its Oyster Stout, which won bronze in the Experimental Beer category at this year’s WBC. A variation on this beer, Oyster Stout-B, earned a silver medal for Experimental Beer (Lager or Ale).

At Iwate Kura, jisan-gaisho, which roughly translates to “locally made, sold outside,” guides the approach to brewing. This concept of using local ingredients to create a distinct, regional product for consumption across the country and beyond is not unique to Iwate Kura, however. Recently, other brewers in Japan have gone beyond shiitake mushroom Stouts to experiment with ingredients as varied as green tea, yuzu, soba seeds, and Japanese figs. Such experimentation has helped spur growth and recognition at home and abroad for both Stouts as a style and Japanese craft brewing in general.

This fusion of local pride and a tinkerer’s spirit is strengthened by kodawari, a Japanese term that describes a fastidiousness or obsession in craftsmanship. And brewers can be fastidious. “In our early days, the feedback that we got was ‘You guys, your best beers are your dark beers,’ and we still hear that from a lot of big beer fans,” says Jason Koehler, founding partner of Tokyo’s DevilCraft Brewing. “So [the Arch Devil Imperial Stout] in particular was a real collaboration between Mike [Grant] and John [Chambers] and I sitting down and hammering out our vision for an Imperial Stout, and then tweaking the recipe, adding a little of this, subtracting a little of that. We weren’t really thinking World Beer Cup at the time, we were thinking, ‘How can we make a great Imperial Stout?’”

Feedback from fans, however, let them know they had a potential winner on their hands. The beer has a thick body with chocolate overtones and a warming, alcoholic edge. “We knew it was a long shot to win a medal but we thought that one had the best chance to win out of all of the beers that we entered,” Koehler says. It was a remarkable showing for a company that only got its brewing license in September 2015. “We were all pretty humbled and happy that it won the gold medal,” he adds. “You know, everybody thinks their baby is the cutest kid in the world.” That baby will soon have a sibling. A Milk Stout small beer made from the second runnings of an Arch Devil beer is currently in the works.

Iwate PrefectureDespite the recent attention from brewers and drinkers alike, however, Stouts are not a new style in the land of the rising sun. As Jeffrey W. Alexander notes in his book Brewed in Japan: The Evolution of the Japanese Beer Industry, Japan began importing Guinness as early 1868, the same year that the country’s last shogunate dissolved. Asahi has made a Stout since 1935. And Kiuchi Brewery, well known for its Hitachino Nest Beer, has picked up numerous awards for its Stouts since 2002.

Many craft brewers are now exploiting this familiarity with Stouts to attract new customers, a third element of the style’s recent revolution in Japan. “The first definitive Stout that we made was called Imperial Chocolate Stout,” says Nobuhisa Iwamoto, owner and head brewer of Sankt Gallen in Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture, 60 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. “Until then, when I had to introduce a beer I used expressions like ‘bitter, hoppy aroma’ and ‘sweet, malty aroma,’ but I learned then that these expressions didn’t communicate what I wanted to say. I realized it’s expressions such as ‘like a chocolate’ that get people’s attention.”

Sankt Gallen started selling Iwamoto’s Imperial Chocolate Stout in 2006, followed the next year by Sweet Vanilla Stout and Kokutou Sweet Stout brewed with brown sugar. This triumvirate formed the backbone of Sankt Gallen’s Sweets Beer line, a huge draw for the casual Japanese beer drinker. “In Japan, there is a popular custom for women to give men chocolate during Valentine’s,” Iwamoto explains. “So we have been brewing limited annual Stouts in time for this season: Orange Chocolate Stout, Smoke Chocolate Stout, Strawberry Chocolate Stout. Every year, we add one Stout beer to our lineup.” What valentines can men in Japan expect to receive in 2017? “We are planning on a limited Stout called Sesame Chocolate Stout, which will be released on January 7.”

At least two breweries in Japan—Shiga Kogen in Nagano and Swan Lake in Niigata—have also already tried aging Stout in Japanese whiskey barrels. Just wait until everyone else catches on. 
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New Belgium’s Brewery, Celebrating 20 Years of Sour Beers

This year marks New Belgium’s 20 th year for making sour beers, which first launched its wood beer program in 1997 with La Folie. The award-winning sour ale’s 2017 version is now available and continues the sour ale tradition thanks to the craftsmanship of New Belgium’s blending team. Every year, Eric Salazar, New Belgium’s Wood Cellar Manager, and Lauren Salazar, New Belgium’s Sour Beer Blender, coordinate a blending of various foeders (oak barrels) to make La Folie a winning interpretation of a Flanders-style sour brown ale.

“We’ve been blending and experimenting with sour wood beers for two decades and as the name La Folie implies it’s always with a touch of eccentric madness,” said New Belgium Spokesman, Bryan Simpson. “We combine multiple barrels based on continual tasting to create a combination that is just right. Once again, the crew nailed it this year.”

The 2017 La Folie is a sharp, tart sour ale full of green apple, deep cherry, dark chocolate, and tannin-like plum skin notes. It’s 7% ABV and available in both 22-oz. bombers and on draft.

To geek out even more on sours, here are some links for enjoyment and learnings:

To find New Belgium beers near you, visit the libation locator at or download New Belgium’s Beer Mode app.

About New Belgium Brewing
New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, is recognized as one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work and one of the Wall Street Journal’s Best Small Businesses. The 100% employee-owned brewery is a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business as designated by the League of American Bicyclists, and one of World Blu’s most democratic U.S. businesses, and a Certified B Corp. In addition to Fat Tire, New Belgium brews fourteen year-round beers; Citradelic Tangerine IPA, Citradelic Lime Ale, Voodoo Ranger IPA, Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA, 8 Hop Pale Ale, Dayblazer Easydrinking Ale, Tartastic Lemon Ginger Ale, Sunshine Wheat, 1554 Black Ale, Bohemian Pilsner, Abbey Belgian Ale, Trippel and a gluten-reduced line, Glutiny Pale Ale and Glutiny Golden Ale. Learn more at
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Want to taste all Craftbeer in the world?

The global pool of excellent beers is growing all day. Even for an expert it will be a mission impossible to memorize all the info to make the right choice. Imagine yourself going to buy a good beer in a liquor shop. So many brands and styles, hey that’s a new one, never tasted but shall I give it a try?

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Brewers Find Bold Beer Flavors in Barrels Beyond Bourbon


The number of craft breweries with some level of barrel aging program has risen dramatically over the past decade, with most gravitating toward used whiskey casks, particularly bourbon, to add new oaky, vanilla and boozy flavor elements to select batches. But whiskey certainly is far from being the only game in town, especially as brewers experiment with oak containers that previously held everything from brandy to Italian-style amari.

Placentia, California’s, The Bruery has been among the leading innovators in that space. In addition to bourbon, Scotch and rye whiskey barrels, the company has used rum, brandy and tequila barrels, as well as casks that were once home to fortified wines like port and Madeira.

(MORE: Coolship Fever in American Craft Brewing)

A few years back, The Bruery released Sucré, its sixth-anniversary ale, in various barrel-aged iterations, including rum and Madeira. The now-retired 16.9 percent ABV English-style Old Ale was blended using the solera method, a traditional practice in blending sherry where fractions of liquid from younger barrels are merged with small portions from older ones.

Strong, bold brews like Sucré — French for “sugar,” as “sugar” is the traditional sixth-anniversary gift — are the ones that hold up best in rum barrels.

Patrick Rue

The Bruery founder Patrick Rue experiments with aging beer in barrels like rum and Madeira. (Credit: The Bruery)

“You get some of the richness from a dark aged rum, some of that sugar cane flavor,” says The Bruery founder Patrick Rue. “Sometimes it can come off a little like airplane modeling glue, it can be super hot — it’s really dependent on the distillery. I’ve had some rum barrel beers that were really nice and some that were not really nice. A really assertive beer generates the best results.”

Rum barrels also worked quite well with The Bruery’s 19.7 percent ABV Black Tuesday imperial stout. Madeira casks were also a good match for those hefty beers, imparting a bit of a burnt raisin flavor, an unusual note for a barrel to deliver.

Port barrels, meanwhile, add hints of dried plum and other dark fruits. One year in the wood tends to be the standard for The Bruery, though its Chronology series features beer that’s been racked at six, 18 and 24 months, in addition to 12 months. “Some are best at six months, some at 12 months and some at 24 months.”

(MORE: Mind-Blowing Beers Made with Barrel-Aged Coffee Beans)

Even more out of left field was Fort Collins, Colorado, based Odell Brewing Co.’s Fernet Aged Porter, a limited release that spent some time in wood that once held Leopold Bros. Distillery’s riff on the dark, opaque herbal Italian amaro. Known for its minty, licorice-like flavor profile (in addition to hints of other botanicals like lavender, honeysuckle and ginger root), fernet brought a kind of Good ‘n’ Plenty-crossed-with-Andes-Candies dimension to the 9.8 percent ABV roasty, chocolaty porter.

While fernet, Madeira, port and rum all typically spend varying lengths of time in wood, one doesn’t traditionally think “oak-aged” when talking about gin. Most gin is unaged, but an increasing number of barrel-matured gins are on the market, combining the woody elements with the juniper-forward spirit’s mix of botanicals — which, in turn, leave their imprint on the oak. And, once those barrels are empty, many brewers have been quick to get their hands on them.

Pat Korn

Green Flash barrelmaster Pat Korn found gin paired well with their Belgian-style tripel. (Credit: Green Flash)

San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing was among them, using those erstwhile gin vessels to flavor Divine Enebro, the third in its limited-edition Cellar 3 Barrelmaster’s Reserve series. Green Flash found that the fruity esters and gum drop flavors of its Belgian-style tripel would pair well with the gin botanicals.

Barrelmaster Pat Korn found further inspiration in fellow San Diegan Old Harbor Distilling Co.’s San Miguel Southwestern Gin, which marries Southwestern flavors like cilantro and cucumber with the more traditional botanicals.

“I wanted to incorporate those flavors into the beer,” Korn says. “To do this, we added cucumber, juniper berries and coriander in a large hop sack, racked the beer onto this and kegged it off when we felt the botanicals had reached their peak in integration and flavor.”

Distillers Get a Flavor Boost from Beer Barrels

Distiller-brewer collaborations are now proving to be anything but one-way transactions. Just as craft breweries are reaching flavorful new heights aging in spirits barrel, distillers are realizing they can enhance their own products in vessels that once held beer. Across the pond, Jameson last year unveiled its Caskmates series, whose blends incorporated some of the iconic Irish whiskey matured in barrels that previously held beers brewed by some of Ireland’s craft brewers.

Closer to home, Louisville, Kentucky, based craft brandy distiller Copper & Kings recently kicked off its Cr&ftwerk project — the ampersand is a core element of the company’s branding — a series of brandies aged for a year in beer barrels.

(LEARN:’s Big Glossary of Beer Words)

Copper & Kings already had been partnering with brewers that were aging beer in its brandy barrels before the distillery launched the project to do the reverse.

Chico, California’s, Sierra Nevada, Munster, Indiana’s, 3 Floyds, Longmont, Colorado’s, Oskar Blues and Louisville’s Against the Grain Brewery are among the breweries that have supplied barrels for the Cr&ftwerk line.

The distillery released a brandy aged in wood that previously held 3 Floyds’s Dark Lord Russian imperial stout, which infused the spirit with malty, dark chocolate and coffee notes.

“The easiest to use are the imperial stouts,” notes Copper & Kings founder Joe Heron. “There’s a lot of dark chocolate and it’s very viscous, which retains really well in the barrel.”

Copper & Kings’s partnership with Sierra Nevada has so far resulted in two distinct products. One used Sierra’s Imperial Smoked Porter barrels, imparting strong vanilla and malt flavors, with hints of smoke. There’s even some noticeable hop character. Sierra’s Cherry Chocolate Stout served as the basis for another, producing a brandy with flavors of baked cherries, chocolate toffee and a nose of dried cherry and cacao nibs.

“We’ve always been inspired by craft brewers — that authenticity, that creativity, that imagination and just that ability to think differently.” Joe Heron, Cooper & Kings

Oskar Blues’s G’Knight and Deviant Dale’s brought, as you would expect, plenty of citrusy, grapefruity hop character to the brandy. Against the Grain’s Mac FannyBaw, a rauchbier that attempted to replicate the flavors of a peaty Islay Scotch whisky, brought some of that smoke to the brandy, as well as a touch of salinity.

The spirit typically enters the wood at 130 proof (65 percent ABV) to ensure maximum beer flavor extraction. It’s not chill-filtered, as that process would strip out some of the desired flavor. It’s then bottled at 111 proof (55.5 percent ABV).

“Brandy is quite a promiscuous spirit,” notes Heron. “It takes on flavor very quickly and maturation has to be managed quite carefully. If you leave it in new American oak too long, it gets very oaky.”

As the number of craft distilleries in the U.S. grows and the players within the segment diversify beyond bourbon and other whiskeys, expect to see more of these alternative barrel collaborations between small brewers and spirits makers. There’s plenty of innovation on both sides, so it would be a shame for each not to mine the talent of the other from time to time.

“We’ve always been inspired by craft brewers — that authenticity, that creativity, that imagination and just that ability to think differently and inspire people to drink differently,” says Heron. “That’s why we started the Cr&ftwerk project and started working with brewers in that way. It was more than, ‘It’ll be cool to age in craft beer barrels.’ We were much more reverential and deferential to the philosophy of great craft brewers.”

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8 Arizona Breweries You’ll Want to Explore


Beer enthusiasts around the Grand Canyon state would agree that over the last half decade, Arizona breweries have grown exponentially. Phoenix and Tucson, in particular, have exploded their numbers of craft breweries, as Arizona residents have fallen hard for beer from small and independent brewers.

In Tucson alone, seven new breweries opened up in 2016 and another one opened its doors just at the turn of 2017. However, there are lots of craft beer watering holes all throughout the state, which makes it a haven for beer lovers who love to road trip through the Southwest. Here are eight that you can put on your list for your next visit.

Oak Creek Brewery – Sedona, AZ

Sedona is recognized worldwide for its enchanting red rocks and amazing spa resorts, however even in this spiritual haven there is a spot for the beer lovers too. The Oak Creek Brewery, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is the perfect place to wind down at the end of the day with a cold pint and a breathtaking sunset over dinner. Their amber ale, pale ale and nut brown ale have all been medalists in national competitions and continue to be big hits with local and visitor drinkers alike. In addition to that, at the 22nd annual Great American Beer Fest in Colorado, Oak Creek won a gold medal for their delicious, light, German-Style hefeweizen. All of their beers have unique flavors and suggest pairings, as the brewery itself is also a highly rated restaurant in the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village.

Borderlands Brewing Co. – Tucson, AZ

Arizona Breweries

Inside the taproom at Borderlands Brewing in Tucson. (Credit: Borderlands)

The Borderlands Brewing Company is only a few years old, but have settled into downtown Tucson so nicely, they feel like an old friend that their customers have known forever. Borderlands is known for creative brews that reflect local ingredients and native flavors, such as their iconic Prickly Pear Wheat and their Horchata Cream Ale. In addition to those, their Noche Dulce Midnight Vanilla Porter uses Mexican vanilla flavoring and is said to be one of the smoothest, silkiest dark beers in the region that even appeals to those who don’t typically like that style of brew.

Mother Road Brewing Company – Flagstaff, AZ

Even in the quiet mountain town of Flagstaff, fresh brewed beer is on the menu. The Mother Road Brewing Company is tucked away in a quiet area of the city and offers beer drinkers a cozy and intimate environment to enjoy their brews. In fact, they are situated in the Milum Building which sits on a long lost portion of the old historic Route 66 highway, and after hosting several other businesses over the past decades, Mother Road Brewing Company has made it their home. On a good weather day, patrons love to sit outside with their dogs and enjoy the mountain air, but they have a nice atmosphere indoors as well. Two of their staple beers include their Kolsch-Style Ale, a golden light beer with hints of pears and apples, and the Mother Road Lost Highway, a black IPA with a whopping 8.0% ABV and hints of orange zest and bitter orange chocolate.

(MORE: 9 Weird Brewery Names and the Stories Behind Them)

SunUp Brewing Co. – Phoenix, AZ

Just north of Phoenix’s city center is a brewery that is sure to brighten your day, even with the blasting Arizona summer heat. What was once the Sonora Brewhouse has been transformed into a place with an identity of its own and has shaped the culture in the Valley of the Sun. Its cheery colorful walls give it a warm and inviting atmosphere inside SunUp, and make it the perfect place to have a pint or two any day of the week, as their creative brew selection has something for whatever mood you’re in. They also have a menu that pairs well with that they have on tap, and offer many additional bottle selections.

Dragoon Brewing Co. – Tucson, AZ

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. in Gilbert, Arizona. (Credit: Arizona Wilderness)

Dragoon Brewing Co. started out as a tiny taproom and just a handful of thoughtfully crafted beers on tap a few years ago, but have evolved into a first-class sit-down pub that can seat plenty of thirsty people. There are typically around a dozen Dragoon made beers on tap at any time, including their flagship Dragoon IPA and Stronghold Session Ale. They also have a couple very popular seasonal creations such as their Saison Blue made with New Mexico blue corn, and the Ojo Blanco which uses local wheat. Enjoy your Dragoon favorites with service from a rotating local food truck outside the brewery.

Desert Eagle Brewing Co. – Mesa, AZ

Mesa’s Desert Eagle Brewing Company has only had its doors open to the public since 2012, but has gained incredible momentum on their products since then. Main Street Blonde Ale, Golden Eagle Wheat, Red Mountain Ale and Imperial Adler IPA are just a few of their fantastic permanent beers, but they also have an incredible selection of seasonal flavors as well. While the venue isn’t huge, it’s big enough to get social and small enough to have an intimate time on an evening at the brewery with some live music entertainment. This is also one of the few brewing companies that gives patrons a menu with ways to discover new tastes by mixing their own beers on tap.

(QUIZ: Beer 101)

Barrio Brewing Co. – Tucson, AZ

The Barrio Brewing Company is a classic Tucson establishment that was one of the original breweries to kick start the craft beer movement in town. Their fabulous beer and food keep their fans coming back to this always busy establishment located in an industrial part of town. The Barrio has a fair amount of delicious seasonal craft brews that rotate on a calendar schedule, but their famous Barrio Blonde can be ordered up all year long. Their Raspberry Wheat, Nolan’s Porter, Copperhead IPA and Barrio Rojo are just a few of the local favorites that are around most of the year. Some of their seasonal beverages such as their Ruby Red Grapefruit IPA and Beach Ale are typically served during the summer and fall season. Don’t forget “Rail Pints” are a dollar off when the train passes by just outside the brewery.

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. – Gilbert, AZ

Even though Arizona is typically associated with desert scenery, one brewery in the Gilbert area strives to reflect a different kind of natural environment. The Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. will bring out your inner lumberjack as they specialize in beer and beards with a wonderful outdoorsy theme. Many of their creations on tap have a nature element to them, such as their seasonal Saddle Mountain Saison which includes local tangelos in its recipe, or their Ostreastoutus brew made with pink oyster mushrooms. However, anyone who takes a trip out to Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. should no doubt get their set of taster flights, which are served on a big tree log tray.


Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine Best in Beer 2016: Readers’ Choice & Editors’ Picks

Our first-ever Best In Beer issue kicks off with a selection of awards categories chosen by thousands of you—our readers—through an online survey of subscribers. What do you, and your beer and brewing enthusiast peers, consider to be your favorite beers, breweries, styles, and more? Read on for your top picks.

Best Beers of 2016

  1. Bell’s Brewery Two Hearted IPA
  2. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  3. Russian River Pliny the Elder IIPA
  4. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
  5. Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
  6. Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro
  7. Founders All Day IPA
  8. New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale
  9. Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont
  10. Founders Breakfast Stout
  11. Stone Enjoy By IPA
  12. 3 Floyds Zombie Dust Pale Ale
  13. Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA
  14. The Alchemist Heady Topper IPA
  15. Stone IPA
  16. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
  17. Duvel-Moortgat Duvel
  18. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
  19. Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA
  20. Lagunitas IPA
  21. Yuengling Lager
  22. Brasserie d’Orval Orval
  23. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
  24. Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin IPA
  25. Anchor Brewing Anchor Steam
  26. Verhaeghe Brewery Duchesse de Bourgogne
  27. Bell’s Brewery Hopslam IIPA
  28. Firestone Walker Pivo Pils
  29. New Holland Dragon’s Milk Stout
  30. Tree House Julius IPA
  31. Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale
  32. Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’
  33. Lawson’s Finest Sip of Sunshine IPA
  34. Allagash White
  35. Odell IPA
  36. North Coast Old Rasputin Stout
  37. Victory Golden Monkey Tripel
  38. Cigar City Jai Alai IPA
  39. Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA
  40. Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb! Stout
  41. Unibroue La Fin du Monde
  42. Deschutes Black Butte Porter
  43. Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale
  44. Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  45. Sierra Nevada Celebration IPA
  46. St. Bernardus Abt 12 Quadrupel
  47. Creature Comforts Tropicalia IPA
  48. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
  49. Jack’s Abby Hoponious Union IPL
  50. Victory Prima Pils

“Wishlist” Breweries & Beers

We asked you to tell us what breweries and what beers you haven’t had (yet) but that are tops on your list to seek out.

Wishlist Breweries

  1. Russian River (Santa Rosa, California)
  2. The Alchemist (Waterbury, Vermont)
  3. 3 Floyds (Munster, Indiana)
  4. Cantillon (Brussels, Belgium)
  5. Brouwerij de Sint-Sixtusabdij (Westvleteren, Belgium)
  6. Tree House (Monson, Massachusetts)
  7. Samuel Adams (Boston, Massachusetts)
  8. Hill Farmstead (Greensboro Bend, Vermont)
  9. Cigar City (Tampa, Florida)
  10. Maine Beer Co. (Freeport, Maine)
  11. Trillium (Canton, Massachusetts)
  12. Founders (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
  13. The Lost Abbey (San Marcos, California)
  14. Toppling Goliath (Decorah, Iowa)
  15. Brew Dog (Columbus, Ohio)

Wishlist Beers

  1. Russian River Pliny The Elder
  2. Russian River Pliny The Younger
  3. The Alchemist Heady Topper
  4. 3 Floyds Dark Lord
  5. Westvleteren XII
  6. Samuel Adams Utopias
  7. Tree House Julius IPA
  8. 3 Floyds Zombie Dust
  9. Cigar City Hunahpu’s Stout
  10. Maine Beer Co. Dinner
  11. Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout
  12. The Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze
  13. Russian River Blind Pig IPA
  14. Toppling Goliath Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout
  15. Cantillon Fou’ Foune

“Desert-Island” Beers & Breweries

That hypothetical scenario where you could drink only one beer or one brewery’s beer while stranded on a deserted island:

“If you could drink only one beer for the rest of your life…”

  1. “My Homebrew”
  2. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  3. Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale
  4. Russian River Pliny the Elder IIPA
  5. Founders All Day IPA
  6. The Alchemist Heady Topper IPA
  7. 3 Floyds Zombie Dust Pale Ale
  8. Guinness Extra Stout
  9. Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont
  10. Stone IPA
  11. Duvel-Moortgat Duvel
  12. New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale
  13. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
  14. Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin IPA
  15. Tree House Julius IPA
  16. Brasserie D’Orval Orval
  17. Cigar City Jai Alai IPA
  18. Odell IPA
  19. Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA
  20. Creature Comforts Tropicalia IPA

“If you could drink only one brewery’s beer for the rest of your life…”

  1. Stone Brewing (Escondido, California)
  2. Sierra Nevada (Chico, California)
  3. Dogfish Head (Milton, Delaware)
  4. Founders (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
  5. Russian River (Santa Rosa, California)
  6. Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, California)
  7. New Belgium (Fort Collins, Colorado)
  8. Boston Beer Co. (Boston, Massachusetts)
  9. Bell’s Brewery (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
  10. “My Homebrew”
  11. Avery Brewing (Boulder, Colorado)
  12. Lagunitas (Petaluma, California)
  13. Tree House (Monson, Massachusetts)
  14. Ballast Point (San Diego, California)
  15. Hill Farmstead (Greensboro Bend, Vermont)
  16. Odell (Fort Collins, Colorado)
  17. Deschutes (Bend, Oregon)
  18. Trillium (Canton, Massachusetts)
  19. New Glarus (New Glarus, Wisconsin)
  20. Boulevard (Kansas City, Missouri)

Your Favorite Breweries

An unabashed popularity contest—here are the breweries you listed as your favorites, categorized by their production scale in barrels brewed in 2015.

A note about our methodology: Categories are based on barrels of beer brewed in 2015. Ranking correlates with reader votes received. Readers typed in their own answers to these questions rather than selecting from a list and were allowed to type in as many as five favorites for each category. The Very Large category was shortened based on the number of breweries in the category and the drop in statistical significance of votes cast for places 5–10 in that category.

Small Breweries (fewer than 15,000 BBLs per year)

  1. Wicked Weed (Asheville, North Carolina)
  2. Hill Farmstead (Greensboro Bend, Vermont)
  3. The Bruery (Placentia, California)
  4. Tree House (Monson, Massachusetts)
  5. Trillium (Canton, Massachusetts)
  6. Tired Hands (Ardmore, Pennsylvania)
  7. Toppling Goliath (Decorah, Iowa)
  8. Breakside Brewing (Portland, Oregon)
  9. Jester King (Austin, Texas)
  10. Other Half (Brooklyn, New York)
  11. pFriem Family Brewers (Hood River, Oregon)
  12. New England Brewing (Woodbridge, Connecticut)
  13. Central Waters (Amherst, Wisconsin)
  14. Creature Comforts (Athens, Georgia)
  15. Nightshift Brewing Co. (Everett, Massachusetts)
  16. 4 Hands (St. Louis, Missouri)
  17. Neshaminy Creek (Croydon, Pennsylvania)
  18. Hardywood Park (Richmond, Virginia)
  19. Maine Beer Co. (Freeport, Maine)
  20. Marble Brewery (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
  21. Port City Brewing (Alexandria, Virginia)
  22. Fieldwork (Berkeley, California)
  23. Grimm Artisanal Ales (Brooklyn, New York)
  24. Williamsburg Alewerks (Williamsburg, Virginia)
  25. Coop Aleworks (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)

Midsize Breweries (15,000–100,000 BBLs per year)

  1. Avery Brewing (Boulder, Colorado)
  2. Russian River (Santa Rosa, California)
  3. 3 Floyds (Munster, Indiana)
  4. Cigar City (Tampa, Florida)
  5. Tröegs (Hershey, Pennsylvania)
  6. Revolution (Chicago, Illinois)
  7. Allagash (Portland, Maine)
  8. Rheingeist (Cincinnati, Ohio)
  9. Sweetwater (Atlanta, Georgia)
  10. Left Hand (Longmont, Colorado)
  11. Saint Arnold (Houston, Texas)
  12. Flying Dog (Frederick, Maryland)
  13. Foothills Brewing (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)
  14. Ommegang (Cooperstown, New York)
  15. Half Acre (Chicago, Illinois)
  16. Lakefront (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
  17. Short’s (Bellaire, Michigan)
  18. Fat Heads (Cleveland, Ohio)
  19. Karbach (Houston, Texas)
  20. Uinta Brewing (Salt Lake City, Utah)
  21. Modern Times (San Diego, California)
  22. Real Ale Brewing (Blanco, Texas)
  23. Dry Dock (Aurora, Colorado)
  24. Green Flash (San Diego, California)
  25. Captain Lawrence (Elmsford, New York)

Large Breweries (100,000–500,000 BBLs per year)

  1. Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, California)
  2. Founders (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
  3. Dogfish Head (Milton, Delaware)
  4. Bell’s (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
  5. Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, California)
  6. Deschutes (Bend, Oregon)
  7. Ballast Point (San Diego, California)
  8. Odell (Fort Collins, Colorado)
  9. Victory (Downingtown, Pennsylvania)
  10. Boulevard (Kansas City, Missouri)
  11. Oskar Blues (Longmont, Colorado)
  12. Great Lakes (Cleveland, Ohio)
  13. Surly (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  14. New Glarus (New Glarus, Wisconsin)
  15. Southern Tier (Lakewood, New York)
  16. Harpoon (Boston, Massachusetts)
  17. Anchor Brewing (San Francisco, California)
  18. Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, New York)
  19. Ninkasi (Eugene, Oregon)
  20. Rogue (Newport, Oregon)
  21. 21st Amendment (San Leandro, California)
  22. Saranac (Utica, New York)
  23. Summit (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  24. Alaskan Brewing (Juneau, Alaska)
  25. Abita (Abita Springs, Louisiana)

Very Large Breweries (500,000+ BBLs per year)

  1. Sierra Nevada (Chico, California)
  2. Boston Beer Co. (Boston, Massachusetts)
  3. New Belgium (Fort Collins, Colorado)
  4. Lagunitas (Petaluma, California)
  5. Yuengling (Pottsville, Pennsylvania)

Who Brews It Best?

Since any general “top breweries” list will inevitably be dominated by breweries who make IPAs, we asked about your favorite beers and brewers in these seven specific styles.

Favorite Saison Brewer

  1. Brasserie Dupont
  2. Boulevard
  3. Ommegang
  4. Hill Farmstead
  5. Funkwerks
  6. Allagash
  7. Goose Island
  8. Dogfish Head
  9. Jester King
  10. Tired Hands
  11. Brooklyn Brewery
  12. Blackberry Farms
  13. Jolly Pumpkin
  14. New Belgium
  15. Great Divide
  16. Logsdon Farmhouse Ales
  17. Prairie Artisan Ales
  18. Stone
  19. Crooked Stave
  20. Brewery Vivant

Favorite Stout or Porter Brewer

  1. Founders
  2. Guinness
  3. Left Hand
  4. Goose Island
  5. Deschutes
  6. Samuel Smith
  7. North Coast
  8. Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, California)
  9. Firestone Walker
  10. Bell’s
  11. Great Divide
  12. Alesmith
  13. Prairie Artisan Ales
  14. New Holland
  15. Avery Brewing
  16. Sierra Nevada
  17. Oskar Blues
  18. Rogue
  19. Southern Tier
  20. 3 Floyds

Favorite Belgian (or Belgian-Style Brewer)

  1. Ommegang
  2. Chimay
  3. Allagash
  4. New Belgium
  5. Westvleteren
  6. Rochefort
  7. St. Bernardus
  8. Duvel
  9. Westmalle
  10. Unibroue
  11. Brewery Vivant
  12. Avery Brewing
  13. Bosteels
  14. Boulevard
  15. Lost Abbey
  16. Orval
  17. Hughye
  18. Weyerbacher
  19. Sierra Nevada
  20. Monkish

Favorite Pale Ale Brewer

  1. Sierra Nevada
  2. Oskar Blues
  3. 3 Floyds
  4. Deschutes
  5. Firestone Walker
  6. Trillum
  7. Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, California)
  8. Founders
  9. Lagunitas
  10. Bell’s
  11. Odell
  12. Ballast Point
  13. Oskar Blues
  14. Toppling Goliath
  15. Hill Farmstead
  16. Samuel Adams
  17. Boulevard
  18. Half Acre
  19. New Belgium
  20. Maine Beer Co. (Freeport, Maine)

Favorite IPA Brewer

  1. Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, California)
  2. Russian River
  3. Dogfish Head
  4. Bell’s
  5. Ballast Point
  6. The Alchemist
  7. Tree House
  8. Lagunitas
  9. Firestone Walker
  10. 3 Floyds
  11. Sierra Nevada
  12. Trillium
  13. Odell
  14. Founders
  15. Deschutes
  16. Lawson’s Finest Liquids
  17. Cigar City
  18. Fat Heads (Cleveland, Ohio)
  19. Green Flash/Alpine
  20. New Belgium

Favorite Sour or Wild Ale Brewer

  1. Cantillon
  2. Wicked Weed
  3. Russian River
  4. Cascade
  5. Jolly Pumpkin
  6. Crooked Stave
  7. The Bruery
  8. New Belgium
  9. The Rare Barrel
  10. Jester King
  11. Rodenbach
  12. Almanac
  13. New Glarus
  14. Avery Brewing
  15. Side Project
  16. Lost Abbey
  17. Anderson Valley
  18. Allagash
  19. Prairie Artisan Ales
  20. Upland

Favorite Lager Brewer

  1. Samuel Adams
  2. Jack’s Abby
  3. Yuengling
  4. Brooklyn Brewery
  5. Great Lakes
  6. Victory
  7. Pilsner Urquell
  8. Firestone Walker
  9. Sierra Nevada
  10. Weihenstephaner
  11. Bell’s
  12. Metropolitan
  13. Devils Backbone
  14. Spaten
  15. Anheuser Busch
  16. Ayinger
  17. New Glarus
  18. Paulaner
  19. Prost
  20. Anchor Brewing

Favorite Beer Event

Festivals abound in the beer world, but it takes a truly special event to rise above the fray. It’s no surprise, then, that you voted the world’s largest beer festival, the Great American Beer Festival, into the top spot for 2016.

  1. Great American Beer Festival (Denver, Colorado)
  2. HomebrewCon (Baltimore, Maryland)
  3. Craft Brewers Conference (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  4. Firestone Walker Invitational (Paso Robles, California)

Editors Picks web 1

We’ve tasted through hundreds of beers with our blind panel, writers, and editors, then compared notes, argued amongst ourselves, and finally pulled together our top sixteen beers for the year 2016.

Sudwerk Brewing Fünke Hop Farm

We’ve been enamored with many of the Sudwerk beers we’ve had of late—their Northern Pilsner could have just as easily been a contender for this same honor—but Fünke Hop Farm, a dry-hopped sour beer, was both a departure for this respected lager brewer and a logical extension of their focus on traditional brewing techniques. Our blind panel were huge fans of Fünke Hop Farm—in a special tasting, it stood head and shoulders over every other sour beer they tasted, despite a field packed with heavyweights. They noted the incredibly bright, fresh, and engaging hops aroma with notes of grapefruit, lemon, papaya, mango, and even a touch of blueberry. A sweaty funk balances out the fruit, but those deep fruit notes take precedence over the barnyard underpinnings. It’s rich and complex, with satisfying deep hops notes and a perfectly balanced acidity. It’s not surprising that GABF judges awarded it a gold medal in 2016—our panel reached the same conclusion a few weeks before that award was announced—but it is surprising that a brewery so singularly focused on lagers has surprised the beer world with a masterful hoppy sour beer. Let’s hope they keep making more.

Trillium Brewing Cutting Tiles Double IPA

Our editors and writers taste quite a few IPAs over the course of a year—a few hundred, typically—so standing out in that deep field is a real challenge. However, Trillium’s double IPA selection for our editors’ pick was unanimous. We first tasted it (under its previous name, Artaic) for the Feb-Mar 2016 issue of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®, where our blind review panel blessed it with a score of 99. We’ve since had the pleasure of drinking more than a case worth, thanks to East Coast trips, checked luggage filled with cans, and sympathetic friends. But what makes it so compelling? We have yet to find a better canvas for showcasing what’s possible with deliciously fruity New School hops than this beer. The fluffy and bright mouthfeel complements the low bitterness late-addition hops, but the intensely articulated fruity hops notes are the standout—there’s a presence and clarity to the presentation of hops that takes this beer well past its contemporaries. The wildflower honey addition is an unexpected master stroke, adding alcohol and a touch of earthiness while helping keep the beer dry.

More recently, we enjoyed the Citra-hopped edition, and it was just as delicious as we expected it might be.

3 Floyds French Vanilla Militia

Every barrel-aged Three Floyds Dark Lord variant possesses a signature mouthfeel that makes it impossible to confuse with any other beer. That motor oil viscosity certainly makes us wonder just how long they boil it (12 hours? 18? 24?). We had the pleasure of tasting two of the barrel-aged variants this year—Dwarven Power Bottom (Muscat barrels) as a surprise addition to the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival plus French Vanilla Militia (Armagnac barrels with vanilla, cocoa nibs, and coffee), and both experiences were exquisite. But the nod for “best” clearly belongs to French Vanilla Militia. Clichés such as “silky” and “smooth” hardly do it justice—for those well experienced with imperial stouts, the body of this beer borders on something else entirely. It’s rich, decadent, and viscous like a Mexican drinking chocolate but with an only slight residual sweetness to balance out the alcohol heat of the barrel treatment. The vanilla and cacao-nib additions are masterfully balanced, and the resulting beer racks up points in every category, from mouthfeel to aroma to flavor. It’s rich, decadent, over the top, bombastic, and a perfect example of 3 Floyds’ iconoclastic approach to flavor and brewing.

Melvin Brewing 2×4

For Melvin, 2016 was a breakout year, as their production brewery in Alpine, Wyoming, started pumping out their Wu Tang–inspired hops bombs at a large enough volume to supply the Mountain West and Pacific Northwest. The accolades that 2×4 double IPA has garnered over the years are impressive—multiple Alpha King wins, gold at the World Beer Cup, gold at GABF—but before this year it was almost fruitless (at least as a national beer magazine) to recommend it because there was only so much beer they could push out of the tiny 3bbl brewhouse inside of a Jackson Hole Thai restaurant. Today, the story is different. A gleaming 20,000-square-foot 30bbl production brewhouse on acres of property 45 minutes down the road from über-expensive Jackson makes enough 2×4 to keep their expanded market fed with cans and draft. The beer itself? More West Coast than East in its crispness, with hops notes that range from citrus fruit to a bit of PNW-style dank. A stronger-than-expected residual sweetness keeps the bitterness from overpowering, and accentuates the citrus notes.

Melvin came out of the gate at an incredible pace in 2016, an we’re excited to see where they go from here.

Side Project Brewing Bière du Pays

We’ve been fans of Side Project Founder Cory King since the very first issue of this magazine (see “The Janitor,” Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®, Spring 2014), and the work he’s released under his Side Project brand has continued to impress us ever since. We had the pleasure of enjoying about a dozen different Side Project beers over the past year—everything from Tête De Cuvée to Smooth to Derivation 5—and yet, our nod has to go to simple clarity of Bière du Pays. This 4 percent ABV mixed-fermentation wine barrel–aged farmhouse ale does so much with so little, and as Steve Jobs once said, “Simple can be harder than complex.” It’s one thing to load a beer with pounds and pounds of fruit and hops to build flavor, but it’s another challenge entirely to coax that flavor out of finicky yeast and bacteria while adding only the most modest amount of hops. But that’s what King has done with Bière du Pays—built a weightless yet creamy body with bright tropical fruit notes, a subtle barnyard funk, a bit of lemon zest acidity, refreshing effervescence, and a fastidious presentation that makes it appear effortless. It’s a special beer, as are most that King brews, but don’t let the lack of “rarity” steer you away—this one is phenomenal.

Blackberry Farm Summer Saison

It was a year of tragic lows and soaring highs for Blackberry Farm Brewery, who suffered the loss of proprietor Sam Beall in an accident in February and later scored gold and silver medals at World Beer Cup and GABF for their creative farmhouse-inspired beers. One thing has remained true through the turmoil and the celebration—a commitment to excellence, creative experimentation, and a refined and (dare we say) sophisticated approach to flavor.

In 2016 the brewery expand their line of beers to include a broader range of Belgian abbey styles as well as a line of “Native” beers brewed with a wild yeast they isolated on the property, but our favorite this year remains their Summer Saison. The mix of classic farmhouse yeast esters and phenolics on a simple malt base supports gorgeous tropical hops flavors—orange, mango, strawberry, grapefruit—and the result is what we might call the “New England–Style IPA of Saisons.”

Editors Picks web 2

WeldWerks Brewing DDH Juicy Bits

Our review panel tasted this DDH Juicy Bits while reviewing New England–style IPAs for this issue, and made comments like “Beer will never get better than this,” “One of the best beers I’ve ever had,” and “As close to perfect as we’ve tasted.” Calling it a fruit-forward IPA is a massive understatement—the orangesicle, cantaloupe, guava, and mango notes are turned up to 11 in this special version of Juicy Bits, with just enough herbal and dank notes for balance. A touch of bitterness on the finish keeps it clean and drinkable but is dialed down significantly from typical IPA levels.

The panel, without knowing the brewery or beer, named it to our best of the year—a step we took to avoid conflict of interest, as WeldWerks Cofounder and Head Brewer Neil Fisher has been a friend and member of our review panel since Issue #1 of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® (long before the brewery even existed). He’s written and presented on a number of topics for us in the past, from adding adjuncts to stouts to barrel-aging beer. That our friend, collaborator, and drinking buddy has made a beer so significant is a matter of particular pride.

Perennial Artisan Ales Barrel-Aged Abraxas

Let’s not mince words—this barrel-aged iteration of Perennial’s Mexican chocolate-spiced Abraxas stout is one of the best beers we’ve ever had the pleasure to taste. The immaculately constructed beer is, at its core, a culinary achievement—the silky body and touch of sweetness balancing a restrained bitterness and acidity from the roasted malt; the spicing regimen of vanilla beans, cacao nibs, cinnamon, and chiles very subtly yet confidently adding natural highlights; and a smooth, never sharp rye barrel presence that softens any rough edges into a cohesive whole. The real masterwork of the beer is just how well defined each of those flavors is, despite the long ingredient list and extended aging—we’ll chalk that up to an intense focus on individual ingredient sourcing, prodigious brewers, and a test-and-improve process mindset that never rests on its laurels. After finishing this bottle with a group of professional brewer friends, the only question that remained for everyone in the room (brewers who have a collective few dozen GABF and World Beer Cup medals to their name) was “how can we get more?”

Fremont Brewing The Rusty Nail

As unabashed Fremont fans, the only real challenge was to decide which of their very qualified beers of 2016 deserved the most recognition. We’ve reviewed four of their beers in the past year, and the scores would be the envy of most breweries. Bourbon Barrel Dark Star imperial stout scored a 95, the coffee edition of the same scored a 97, and Bourbon Barrel Aged Abominable barrel-aged winter ale scored a world class 99. On top of that, their brilliant Cowiche Canyon fresh hop beers define the style for us. So when bottles of The Rusty Nail arrived, we couldn’t wait to see how this big barrel-aged oatmeal stout with brewer’s licorice stacked up. It led with dark fruit notes of plum and dates, and a notable whiskey and coconut in the aroma. On the sip, a touch of spice emerged with molasses, raisin, dark cherry, and just enough roast to keep the sweeter notes from cloying. Thankfully, that sweetness is velvety smooth, and while the sip races through a litany of discernable flavor notes at a pace that would make Usain Bolt jealous, the strong vanilla note at the end pulls the entire thing together into a gorgeous whole. This one is special.

Russian River & Firestone Walker STiVO Pils

When we first heard that two of our favorite brewers, Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker and Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River, were brewing a collaboration Pilsner that borrowed equally from Firestone’s Pivo Pils and Russian River’s STS Pils, we couldn’t have been more excited. We’ve become self-described “Pilsnerds,” so tasting the collaboration (at the world class Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival in June, no less) was a special treat at a festival filled with incredible beer.

The slightly higher gravity added a touch of sweetness over the two foundation beers, but (as expected) the beer finished very dry and provided a delicious canvas for the New School German hops that both brewers embrace. While some were surely disappointed that the collaboration wasn’t some Franken-Pliny, we were thrilled to find that the most sought-after beer at the fest was this Pilsner and were even more excited to see the breweries re-brew it and share draft with their wider networks. It’s about time a Pilsner drove some hype.

Live Oak Hefeweizen

Live Oak Hef and Pilz have long been favorites of fellow Texas brewers, but until 2016 it wasn’t packaged—if you were lucky enough to get some on draft or at the tap room, you understood. With the opening of their new Austin brewery in February came the addition of canning, allowing more people to enjoy these beers where they should be enjoyed—which is pretty much anywhere. The Hef deserves particular note as it achieves an elusive balance of yeast fruitiness (hello, banana) and a perception of malt sweetness that heightens and complements that fruity note, yet the beer still finishes dry and drinkable. For beer nerds who love to dissect their beers, there’s plenty here to explore, but it’s equally appealing to those without a beer PhD.

Scratch Brewing Single Tree Hickory

We could have named any of the Scratch Brewing beers we tasted this year to our list—Oyster Weiss was particular intriguing—because the reason for their inclusion has less to do with the individual flavors of a single beer and more to do with their philosophy, process, grounded artistry, and dogged experimentation reflected in everything they brew. For those not familiar, Scratch focuses on foraged ingredients, and Single Tree Hickory was brewed without hops, using elements of a hickory tree on their property—leaves, nuts, toasted bark—for bittering and flavor. The results, of course, are weird, oddly compelling, and remarkably contemporary—while their methods are quite “back to the earth,” this beer and others in the family taste more “today” than “throwback.” More Alinea than hippy vegan café. They’re the synthesis of a deep and broad understanding of flavor and a determination to get there through more interesting, and more local, means. We will continue to see more brewers pursue this approach in their brewing, and one day, we’ll look back at Scratch Brewing as visionaries who helped pave the way.

The Rare Barrel Forces Unseen

You may notice a common theme in our 2016 list—we’re very, very partial to beers without fruit. That’s not an accident, and it’s not for a lack of enjoyment of beers with fruit—we certainly drink plenty of them and love quite a few—but there’s something about beers that push their beer-ness forward and create a certain artistic balance with core beer ingredients that we gravitate to the most. The Rare Barrel produces plenty of fruit-forward sour beers from their Berkeley, California, blending and aging warehouse, and we’ve tasted many of them—sixteen different beers this year alone. Our favorite remains their basic golden sour, Forces Unseen. Its simplicity, balanced acidity, perfectly dialed sweetness, and brilliantly clear citrus-fruit flavor notes make it the first bottle we grab from the cellar when choosing a sour beer for pairing with a meal, and there’s nothing like it on a warm summer evening, watching the sun set over the mountains.

Editors Picks web 3

Creature Comforts Epicurious

In every issue of the magazine, we tap our chef friends to create dishes made with beer and develop our own beer pairing suggestions for those dishes because beer deserves a place at the fine dining table. Creature Comforts has taken this idea from the other direction, working with their chef friends to develop Epicurious, a beer designed specifically to pair well with a wide variety of cuisine. The resulting table beer tastes instantly familiar yet distinct—a touch Pilsner-esque, but with a slightly softer body and not as much bite. A touch more tooth than a Helles. Less tang than a Kölsch. But in our experience of the beer, it’s perfectly suited for the task the brewers set out to achieve.

That goal is the real reason for the selection. We’ve enjoyed numerous beers from Creature Comforts this year—Tropicália IPA, See the Stars barrel-aged stout, Tritonia Gose, Athena Paradiso Berliner weisse, Transmission, Mutualism, and more—and have loved every sip. But we couldn’t help celebrate this bold pursuit of the culinary world.

Allagash Brewing Coolship Resurgam

We toured Allagash Brewing’s Portland, Maine, brewery in July, and it was one of our high points of the year. In their sour-beer building, we ran across Brewmaster Jason Perkins hand-filling a wooden barrel with berries (he later racked in some three-year-old Coolship wort from another barrel, and let us sample the leftover unblended, uncarbed wort that was displaced by the fruit—amazing). Later, we drank a bottle of Coolship Resurgam in their coolship room behind the brewery—an experience we won’t soon forget. And so, as we’ve said many times in the past, the experience of drinking a beer in a specific time and place with people we like has indelibly impacted our perception of a beer. We loved Coolship Resurgam before the trip—it is, in our humble opinion, the best blended spontaneously fermented beer brewed in the United States—and it’s on par with the Belgian beers that inspired it. The bright lemony tartness, the touch of sweetness, the earthy funk, and the mild minerality are all perfectly placed, and the process—fermenting the beer with only naturally occurring airborne yeast and microflora—made drinking the beer at the source all the more meaningful and memorable.

Cantillon Vigneronne

Naming any Cantillon beer to our “best of” is a bit like announcing Mother Teresa’s sainthood—it’s something so obvious that it almost seems trite. But we don’t want to overlook the classics just because some newer, flashier, and more hyped beers continue to appear on the market. No, the reason we’ve included Vigneronne this year is because it too often is overlooked in the Cantillon canon in favor of the Lou Pepe beers (aged in wine barrels with extra fruit additions), Fou’ Foune (aged on apricots), or Blåbær (aged on European bilberries). We’ve had all of these this past year, and our far and away favorite remains Vigneronne.

The beauty of the best Belgian lambic beers is the residual sweetness and controlled acidity that most don’t notice as they concentrate on the funk (and often conflate that funk with “sourness.”) Vigneronne rides that line with that subtle sweetness serving as the perfect foil for the deep depths of funk, fruit, and acidity. Balancing each of these very strong elements is no small task, and that task is made even harder by the fact that the beer is produced through traditional spontaneous fermentation—no yeast or bacteria added other than what’s in the air as they cool the wort. But Jean Van Roy, Cantillon’s brewer and blender, has a masterful touch, and we think Vigneronne is one of the very best of his achievements.


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An Interview With Saint Benjamin Brewing


Succeeding in a big beer city like Philadelphia can’t be easy. This is a town that sits alongside Portland, San Diego, and Asheville as one of the great beer Meccas in the United States, after all. While that means it’s packed with beer lovers, it also means there is a lot of competition. How do you rise above the pack and get noticed in a city that is already swimming in a sea of amazing beer?

For the brewers at Saint Benjamin Brewing Company, it has been a combination of hard work, smart business, and tapping into the lessons they learned as homebrewers.

Located in the historic Kensington section of Philly, Saint Benjamin is named after the city’s most famous denizen, Benjamin Franklin. Good ol’ Ben was known for many things, and one of them was brewing. Ben Franklin was an avid homebrewer who never actually said the beer quote famously attributed to him – “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” – but who did brew an excellent spruce ale that some modern breweries have recreated.

For the folks at Saint Benjamin, Ben Franklin was more than just a local hero who helped provide a good brewery name, though. His spirit of piling innovation atop tradition helped inspire them to create offbeat beers like their coffee kolsch and India cream ale. And those experiments, of course, began in a familiar place for Homebrew Talk readers: in homebrewing.

We recently had a chance to talk with owner and brewer Tim Patton and brewer Andrew Foss, who gave us insights into how the worlds of homebrewing and professional brewing can sometimes collide.

saint benjamin brewing company feature

How Did Saint Benjamin Brewing Get Started?

Tim Patton (owner/brewer): I founded the brewery in 2010 but didn’t open it until 2014. Finding a site and getting through construction took a while. We are located in a neighborhood called South Kensington, it is located near a few hip neighborhoods and is an old industrial area that is on the rise. We are in a three-story former carriage house of the Theo Finkenauer Lager Beer Company that opened in the 1870s and went under during Prohibition. I really love the history of the building and the neighborhood, as well as where I see things going.

We opened our brewpub on-site in May of this year. We have a 12 taps and a hand pump, a full kitchen plus wine, cider, mead and spirits that are all made in Pennsylvania.

Andrew Foss (brewer): I Started at Saint Benjamin Late in 2014, after leaving a volunteer/apprenticeship position at a local brewpub.

What Did Your Time as A Homebrewer Teach You That Became Invaluable Once You Became A Professional Brewer?

Andrew: Stay organized and clean as you go. I never got that part right as a homebrewer, but there’s nothing worse than getting to the end of a long day and having to take care of all the stuff you could have done while brewing.

Tim: I agree about staying organized. Also, since brewing takes a while and there is always so much to do, finding small time savers that don’t affect the quality of the beer is important.

How Soon After You Started Homebrewing Did You Begin Going Off-Style and Creating Your Own Twists On Things?

Andrew: Once I got to a point in home brewing where I knew my process was pretty good, and I could get beer in the glass that was pretty close to what I was trying to do, I started experimenting a little. I am a four ingredient beer guy, mostly. I did some beer/cider hybrids, and a lot of wild yeast harvesting. One of the strains I harvested then is in use now at Saint Benjamin, in our Yardarm Saison.

Tim: I did about three kit brews then immediately went all grain and started creating my own original recipes. Most of what I made trended towards either the English or the Belgian side of things. I knew pretty early on that I wanted to do something in this field, so a lot of my ideas were things that I wanted to drink that I also thought others might want to buy.

What Was Most Surprising About the Transition From Brewing as A Serious Hobby to Brewing as A Business?

Tim: I do really appreciate the precision and consistency in a pro environment. Having things built into the equipment like sight glasses, sample ports and the cones on the fermenters makes it much easier to make the kinds of quality checks that were a pain at home or used up too much of a little five-gallon batch. Also, being able to get really fresh yeast was a huge change.

A lot of the beer I made at home was pretty traditional, so I wasn’t as limited coming into a professional setting by having to dial back on a bunch of expensive recipes.

Andrew: For me, it’s that in some respect, it is way easier to make kick ass beer at home. You have no constraints on scheduling, ingredient cost or availability, ‘marketability’ or anything like that. Brewing professionally is a bit different in that regard. It can be tough to get the hops you want, or to justify buying a pitch of yeast and only getting two or three generations out of it. At the same time, brewing on high quality equipment allows you a level of control and precision that most homebrew setups lack, and you can usually trade for or buy hops, or snag a pitch of yeast from another brewery in a pinch.

saint benjamin brewing company Tim

Brewing Professionally is A Whole Different World From Homebrewing, but Does Homebrewing Still Play A Role in What You Do?

Tim: I haven’t brewed a five-gallon batch since a few months before the brewery opened in 2014. We have been doing some experiments in barrels and I am sure we will re-use my homebrew carboys for some test sours soon.

Andrew: We did a beer at Saint Benjamin where we did not want to treat the mash/sparge water at all – it was a collaboration with our local water department – so I did a scaled down “mini mash” before we actually brewed the beer to make sure that the pH would fall around where we like it. It also is not uncommon for us to pull off five gallons or so into a carboy to ferment with a different yeast, or fill a growler and condition on fruit or oak.

A Significant Percentage of Homebrewers Daydream About Brewing Professionally, and Many of Them Genuinely Want to Explore A Career in Beer. Is There Still Room for New Brewers to Enter the Marketplace?

Andrew: Of course! I don’t know how long the market can keep up with the pace of places opening and that kind of thing, but for someone who wants to brew beer, there are jobs out there. It’s tough to get your foot in the door, and you may have to work for free for a while, but if you get that opportunity and make the most of it, you won’t have trouble finding a job. Making the most of it is key. I didn’t have much trouble finding a job after a long volunteer stint, but the only reason anyone even considered me was because I had a strong recommendation from my boss Scott. Without that I would probably still be tending bar.

Tim: I think there is still room for new breweries, though the distribution game is getting tight. People love their local brew pub, and since for a lot of people it can be your local pub, there is almost always a market. As for brewers, we are seeing our brewer friends move up and around the industry. If you are willing to relocate for an opportunity, then there is a lot out there.

For Homebrewers Reading This With A Glint in Their Eye, Hoping to Open A Brewery of Their Own One Day, What Do They NEED to Know That is Often Overlooked?

Andrew: I don’t even know where to begin on this one. My biggest piece of advice is to work in the field for a while before you decide that you are ready to open a brewery, because you aren’t ready. I can’t speak to the financial investment because I have never opened a place, but you can be the best brewer in the world and fail if you don’t know how to run a business.

Tim: Research is key. I also wish I had more hands on experience before I opened the brewery. I was really going blind in so many areas. It wasn’t even the brewing, it was legal issues, taxes, permits, delivering beer. I tell people often that if you want to brew beer, become a brewer; if you want to run a brewery then start a brewery. Most brewery owners don’t get to brew.

Finally, What’s One Tip, Technique or Idea Homebrewers Should Try That You Don’t See in All the Usual Guides to Homebrewing?

Andrew: I don’t know that I have any great secret to share, but if you are a homebrewer who wants to make better beer you need two things: a PH meter, and temp control for your fermentor.

Tim: My beers became so much better when I started controlling the temperature of my fermentations. I also think if I had a source of fresh yeast during my home brew days, my beer would have been even better.

saint benjamin brewing company logo

Saint Benjamin Brewing Company is located at:
1710 N. 5th Street, Philadelphia.
Find out more about their beers here.

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Beercation: Seattle

“It’s like household, however with higher beer!” The person on the bar laughs as he tosses me a solution to my query, “Why do you come right here daily?” His standing as an everyday was cemented when Geaux Brewing moved in down the road and began serving him the perfect beer he’d ever had. “Household, however with higher beer” is a summation of many of the beer tradition within the Pacific Northwest. Good-natured one-upmanship coupled with the lion’s share of the world’s finest hops fields is a mix leading to world-class beer and the first-rate folks to associate with it.

Navigating this stunning Pacific Northwest metropolis may be geographically difficult, because of the clear bisection Lake Washington supplies to the Seattle Metro space. Simply two bridges, a kind of being a toll highway, provide the one technique of crossing the enormous lake that lives proper within the heart of the world.

The up-and-over methodology of getting across the lake will take you far north of town, and going round it on the opposite finish will take you far south. Each choices additionally provide a smattering of improbable breweries, a little bit of a cultural apology for the inconvenience. The abundance of beer, brewers, and hops on this space leaves you no scarcity of haunts to hit, whatever the area of Seattle you’ve landed in.


The undisputed king of the Seattle beer scene, the charming Ballard/Freemont part of Seattle boasts probably the most breweries and beer bars per sq. mile within the state. A lot of the locations are inside strolling distance of one another, however chances are you’ll want greater than at some point to hit all of them. When you select only one space of Seattle to go to, this may more than likely be your finest guess.

First cease: Fremont Brewing. One of many quickest rising breweries within the state, it’s grow to be a favourite of locals and is continually packed to the rafters with patrons. Freemont is well-known for its modern and scrumptious combos poured by the 2 Randalls which can be in frequent rotation. Simply down the road, Brouwer’s Café is a must-visit for beer followers. With sixty-four faucets, a rare 300-bottle checklist, and a full schedule of beer occasions, it is a vacation spot for native (and visiting) craft-beer followers.

Lower than a mile away is the spectacular Reuben’s Brews, a brewery so nicely beloved by Seattle beer followers that they brewed the official beer for this yr’s Seattle Beer Week. With a Randall program simply as spectacular as Fremont’s, in addition to a number of GABF awards underneath its brewing belt, Reuben’s is a beer expertise that you just shouldn’t miss.

Steps away lives one other energetic taproom that has earned its mark as a go-to vacation spot. When biologist and cicerone Robyn Schumacher teamed up together with her equally science-and-beer-obsessed mates Lara Zahaba and Brad Benson, the union shaped Stoup Brewing, one of the spectacular beer spots in Seattle. Equal components taste explosion and beer-science innovation, Stoup is a brewery to look at.

With a taproom that’s straightforward to get comfy in, an everyday rotation of meals vehicles on weekends, and a pair Washington Beer medals to its identify, Populuxe Brewing is rising in reputation and is a pressure to be reckoned with within the Ballard beer scene. Simply down the highway, Hilliard’s Beer affords one of many largest and shiniest taprooms within the space. With common occasions, persistently nice beer, and loads of cans to take dwelling with you, this is a wonderful place to finish your Freemont-Ballard beer crawl.

Capitol Hill/Downtown/Queen Anne

Journey south of Freemont and also you’ll end up within the Queen Anne neighborhood, a small however stylish group with upscale properties and a rising beer scene.

Cease in for a pint at Holy Mountain Brewing, the present cool child on the Seattle brewery block. When Holy Mountain decides to host a beer-pairing dinner, it sells out in minutes. Be certain that to seize a sought-after bottle whilst you’re there, as they’re arduous to return by. A couple of miles away is The Pike Brewing Firm. When you’re the kind who needs to cease into Pike’s Place Market and watch the skilled fish throwers, then pop in subsequent door for a pint. Pike’s has been serving beer to Seattle locals and vacationers because the 1980s and has earned a comfortable spot within the craft-beer-loving hearts of Washingtonians ever since.


When you’re courageous sufficient to struggle Seattle visitors, head over to The Pine Field (above), which was established by the founding father of Seattle Beer Week and the previous bar supervisor of Brouwer’s Cafe. The Pine Field is housed in a former mortuary (therefore the identify), and pours a well-curated beer checklist from its thirty faucets. The Pine Field additionally hosts beer occasions often, so preserve an eye fixed out.

Subsequent, it’s time to inventory your beer fridge at one of the well-trafficked and well-stocked bottle retailers on the town. With common meals vehicles, a taproom, and a crowd of beer geeks in attendance, Chuck’s Hop Store (pictured at high) is greater than your common bottle store. Search for bottles you possibly can’t discover wherever else within the metropolis, order a flight, and seize a chunk on the meals truck parked exterior.

Eastside and North Aspect: Lake Metropolis/Woodinville/Redmond/Bellevue

Whereas the west facet of Lake Washington is finest identified for its beer scene, the opposite facet of the lake is not any slouch.


Touring north of town, and excessive of the lake, the primary spot you’ll hit is Hellbent Brewing Firm (above). Based by a collective powerhouse of GABF award winners, long-time bar managers, and beer geeks, it is a place that has a soul a lot older than its beautiful, newly opened taproom. Particularly on sunny days, the patio itself is definitely worth the drive north.

Subsequent cease: Woodinville. Simply northeast of the highest of the lake sits what locals consider as “Washington’s Napa.” With an enormous provide of wineries, distilleries, and breweries, it is a booze lover’s paradise. Try Triple Horn Brewing Co. and B-Aspect Brewing within the industrial district, Soiled Bucket Brewing Co. down the highway, after which on to Foggy Noggin Brewing.

When you get weary and hungry, head over to The Collective On Faucet for some scrumptious barbeque and a well-stocked faucet checklist. Monday nights are brewer’s night time, that includes a brand new brewery each week and a Q&A with the brewer.

Journey farther south and also you’ll hit Redmond, had been the locals will insist you cease at Black Raven Brewing Co., a brewery with fast progress on account of a catalog of persistently good beer, in addition to an everyday rotation of latest and modern brews.

From there, head all the way down to Bellevue and take a look at the small hidden gem of a brewery referred to as Geaux Brewing. With every thing from an impressively scrumptious summer time ale to a smoked ghost chili porter, it is a place that may please even the pickiest of beer snobs. Be certain that to take a few of that beer dwelling in a crowler—they are going to seal one for you proper on the spot.


SoDo is how the locals say “South Downtown,” and it’s additionally dwelling to quite a lot of nice breweries.

Two Beers Brewing Co. has been an ever-expanding brewery making waves within the SoDo beer scene since 2007. Sure, there are extra than simply two beers, however their motto is “Life is just a bit extra trustworthy after two beers.” Can’t argue with that.

For a correct meal and a fantastic pint, cease into Mollusk Brewing for the perfect of each worlds. Mollusk rose from the ashes of Epic Ales, a favourite brewery round city that closed far too quickly. Mollusk opened to a sigh of reduction from the locals and supplied the identical fantastically bizarre beer that they’d gotten used to.

End up your tour of the southern finish by heading to the beloved Georgetown Brewing Co. for a pint of Seattle’s personal Lucille IPA, a sentimental favourite of those that minimize their craft-beer tooth within the Pacific Northwest. Georgetown doesn’t bottle and the keg distribution is proscribed, so this can be your solely probability to pattern a real Seattle brew.

Hop Over to Japanese Washington

The Washington beer scene is a kind of you’ll-never-see-it-all-the-first-time-around varieties of experiences; nonetheless, when you have final management over the timing of your go to, the absolute best determination you can make is to plan it across the annual hops harvest. In any case, Washington State is accountable for virtually 80 % of the nation’s hops yield.

Both plan on a day-trip to the Yakima hops fields to get pleasure from the great thing about contemporary hops being harvested proper from the bine or come a couple of weeks later, when the fresh-hopped beers take over the native taprooms. The Yakima Hop Harvest Competition is one-of-a-kind and options fresh-hops beers which can be not like any you possibly can pattern elsewhere.

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Breakout Brewer: El Segundo Brewing

In a sleepy beach town less than twenty miles from downtown Los Angeles, a five-year-old craft brewery is on a mission to change how people see—and taste—hoppy beer. El Segundo Brewing Company has quickly evolved from a favorite of local beer geeks to a destination in L.A.’s thriving South Bay craft-beer scene. And now, the hops-obsessed brewery is gaining national attention for a unique collaboration with an iconoclastic entertainer. At the end of 2015, El Segundo Brewing (ESBC) partnered with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin—legendary professional wrestler turned reality TV star and podcaster—to craft Austin’s ideal IPA. The result was Broken Skull IPA, and it’s more than just an off-the-shelf IPA adorned with a celebrity name. The beer, which ESBC Founder and Brewmaster Rob Croxall calls a “hybrid of old-school and new-school IPAs,” was designed from the ground up to appeal to Austin’s tastes, and it has become a massive crossover hit with a whole new demographic.

“He’s got a pretty good palate,” Croxall says. “He knows what he likes, and he’ll tell you if he doesn’t like something.” The ESBC team got to know Austin’s preferences, which tend toward the classic California craft flavors of C-hops, and Croxall wrote a recipe that combined the iconic character of Cascade and Chinook hops in the kettle with a Citra-heavy dry hop. Showcasing a bold mid-palate hops flavor and more subdued bitterness and aromatics than the typical ESBC IPA, Broken Skull strikes the balance of quaffable and striking that Austin was looking for. “I may be biased,” Austin told the assembled throng of wrestling fans (who greatly outnumbered craft-beer fans) during the Broken Skull release party at the brewery, “but it’s a damn good beer!”

Broken Skull, with its emphasis on hops flavor over aromatics, is a departure for ESBC, even among the brewery’s more than two dozen other IPAs. When the brewery launched in 2011, they brewed a flagship IPA that showcased Simcoe hops and a wheat-heavy and Nelson Sauvin-hopped IPA called White Dog. They soon added a double IPA to the mix, and as Croxall got more comfortable in the production brewhouse, more new IPA recipes found their way onto the brewing schedule.

Co-owner and Director of Sales and Marketing Thomas Kelley helped push his partner further into his hops obsession. “We didn’t set out to be the IPA brewery,” Kelley says, “but when we were entering the market in that first year, there was no [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][other brewery] in L.A. saying ‘we make hoppy beer; that’s what we do,’ so I told Rob that we needed to typecast ourselves.”

“I wanted to brew the stuff that I love to drink, and I love hoppy beers,” Croxall adds. “It’s always been where my heart is.” His goal is to show off the incredible diversity that hops offer, and he has a knack for mixing and matching hops varieties to create a layered and distinctive flavor profile. Even after a couple of dozen different hoppy beers—from the crowd-favorite Mayberry IPA that’s rich with the tropical dankness of Mosaic hops to the diesel-oil punch of Nelson Sauvin hops that defines Hop Tanker DIPA to a pair of wins at the prestigious Bistro Double IPA Festival during San Francisco Beer Week in 2014 and 2015—Croxall doesn’t see any end to his focus on the hoppy side of beer. “It isn’t so much about making the next new IPA; it’s about finding these great ingredients and learning how to use them,” he says. “There’s always a new oddball hops variety to play with. I haven’t had a chance to use the Idaho 7 hops yet….” His voice trails off, and it’s clear that his mind is already working on an idea to showcase the hype-heavy new variety.

Croxall has the deep tan and laid-back demeanor that you expect from a SoCal native, but he also has a ceaselessly analytical mind. Before opening the brewery, he worked in the aerospace industry, but in finance rather than engineering. A decade plus of crunching numbers has left him well-tuned to evaluate the economics of his brewing operations. The brewery’s growth has been fast, but it’s been very controlled, as Croxall has added trucks and cooperage and more staff to support all the expansion of production capacity.

Building the business on the strength of IPA sales poses a unique set of challenges for the small brewery that produced about 4,500 barrels of beer in 2015. “Freshness is of paramount importance,” the brewer says. “It’s part of our identity.” This obsession with freshness led to what the brewery calls its “Day One” program. Each month, one of the brewery’s hoppy brands is bottled and sent to retailers across California. “It’s in drinkers’ hands literally hours after we bottled it,” Croxall says—no small feat for a self-distributing brewery. Croxall believes that controlling quality and keeping fresh beer on the shelves is too important to leave up to wholesalers. Day One events started as a way to educate consumers about the importance of freshness, and hops-conscious drinkers in Los Angeles are savvier to the importance of cold storage and bottled-on dates than ever before.

“It’s incumbent on the breweries to make quality beer, to have quality beer on the shelf. We have to make sure when drinkers try craft beer for the first time that it’s a good experience; otherwise you could scare those people away forever. It’s not just attracting customers to the craft segment; it’s about retaining them.”

The freshness awareness campaign propagated through social media and won many new fans for the brewery, which quadrupled the size of its tasting room in 2015 and added more cellar capacity. “We’re pretty much maxed out in this facility,” the brewer says with a hint of wonder in his voice. “Now we’re focused on improving processes and becoming more efficient.”

“I grew up in El Segundo, and this is where I want my business to be. Los Angeles has such a huge, diverse population, and we’re just scratching the surface.”

“Where’s the ceiling for IPA?” Kelley asks rhetorically. “Do you see a ceiling? We’re still not there. We keep adding tanks, and we keep blowing the ceiling off. So I guess we’ll just keep making IPA.”

In the fall of 2015, the brewery organized “Wet Hop Weekend”—a days-long celebration of the hops harvest that featured a lineup of specialty brews cooked up with the bounty of freshly harvested hops that Croxall had secured. The brewery’s fans lined the street before the doors opened and crowded around the bar three or four deep to get a taste of the unique offerings.

Croxall sees no sign of the fervor for hops diminishing. “The sky’s the limit for IPA,” Croxall answers. “People new to craft beer sometimes think that all IPAs taste the same, but what sets our hoppy beers apart is that you can taste the difference. You can always taste the hops we’re using, and that’s something that we’ve always stuck to.”

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Get Your Pumpkin On: Our Favorite Pumpkin Beers of 2016 (so far)

 If you’ve been to the beer store lately, surely you’ve noticed that it’s the time of year where we have pumpkin beer up to our tonsils. Some of us put on our Charlie Brown T-shirts and cheerfully fill up one or two make-your-own six-packs, while others throw garlic and holy water at the cooler (the latter group might want to avert their eyes for the rest of this article).

For the former group, get out your #2 pencils, and let’s make a shopping list!


Wicked Weed Brewing (Asheville, North Carolina)

Xibalba is an imperial pumpkin ale with an intriguing blend of spices and additions. Cacao nibs, fall spices, and ancho, serrano, and habanero chiles make this an unforgettable selection.

Punk’in Drublic

Coronado Brewing Company (San Diego, California)

For those craving Grandma’s pumpkin pie, Punk’in Drublic is going to be a treat. Coronado brews the beer with locally sourced pumpkin, then adds a secret mix of pumpkin spices.

Vanilla Pumpkin

O’Fallon Brewery (St. Louis, Missouri)

O’Fallon brews the amber ale base beer for their Vanilla Pumpkin, then adds pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. But the locally produced Madascar Bourbon Vanilla that’s added lends a “pumpkin pie with ice cream” type of flavor.

Pumpkin Ale

Schlafly Beer (St. Louis, Missouri)

Brewed with pumpkin and all the right spices to go with it, this pumpkin ale rocks an 8 percent ABV, and is full-bodied, sweet, and flavorful.


Avery Brewing Company (Boulder, Colorado)

The pumpkins for Rumpkin were harvested from a local farm. The beer was spiced with aromatic pumpkin pie spices and ginger, then left to ferment in rum barrels, which added oak and sweet molasses to the beer’s overall character.

Scratch 79 – Pumpkin Ale

Tröegs Independent Brewing (Hershey, Pennsylvania)

After harvesting pumpkins from nearby Strites Orchard, Tröegs roasted them, added autumnal spices, then sweetened things up with sugar, honey, and vanilla. Finally, they fermented Scratch 79 – Pumpkin Ale with French saison yeast, and the finished beer has an 8.4 percent ABV.


Southern Tier Brewing Company (Lakewood, New York)

If an imperial stout is more to your liking, Warlock is blacker than night and clocks in at 10 percent ABV. It’s brewed with pumpkin and spices, and has a lovely roasted malt character.

Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale

Elysian Brewing (Seattle, Washington)

When a pumpkin latte isn’t enough, Punkuccino has you covered. Stumpton coffee and coffee malt add roastiness to the beer, with cinnamon and nutmeg for spice, and lactose for sweetness. And you get pumpkin to the third power—it’s added to the mash, the kettle, and the fermentor.

Dark Pumpkin Sour

Almanac Beer Company (San Francisco, California)

A dark sour ale with a roasty flavor, Dark Pumpkin Sour is brewed with heirloom pumpkins and spices, then it’s aged in red wine barrels for a year. It’s fermented with wild Belgian and American yeast strains, as well as a San Francisco sourdough starter, all of which create a complex flavor profile.

Rum Pumpkin

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (Richmond, Virginia)

Warm up with this imperial ale, which is brewed with pumpkins, brown sugar, spiced rum, blackstrap molasses, and pumpkin pie spice. Rum Pumpkin is then aged in Caribbean dark rum barrels and bottled when it’s perfect.

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Breakout Brewer: Melvin Brewing

World Beer Cup gold. A number of GABF golds. Again-to-back wins within the Alpha King Problem. Small Brewpub of the 12 months. Up till just a few months in the past, Melvin Brewing may need been probably the most adorned Three BBL brewhouse within the nation. And the one motive they’re not now’s the addition of a gleaming new 30 BBL brewhouse, manufacturing facility, and canning line in Alpine, Wyoming. These self-professed Kung Fu and hip hop fanatics, with beers named in honor of the Wu-Tang Clan, are on the march to take their model of unrepentant hops-forward beers to beer followers all through the Rockies and PNW. Can something cease them?

What began as a tiny 20-gallon brewery tucked at the back of an eccentric Thai meals restaurant in downtown Jackson, Wyoming, has change into a manufacturing facility with a 30-barrel brewhouse in Alpine, Wyoming, and can change into a brand new faucet home in Bellingham, Washington, later this 12 months in addition.Meet Jeremy Tofte (heart), the ski bum who opened Thai Me Up in vacationer city Jackson in 2000. “On the restaurant, we’ve got two TVs. They each play Kung Fu,” he says. “We solely hearken to hip hop. We now have secret issues on the menu that vacationers don’t find out about as a result of we’ve acquired to deal with the locals.”

“Everybody who works at Melvin has a chip on their shoulder,” provides Tofte of his offbeat companies. “I’ve this principle that it’s us in opposition to the world.”

In 2010, Tofte put in a 20-gallon system at the back of Thai Me Up. The subsequent 12 months Tofte put in the Three-barrel system that’s at present in place and referred to as on Melvin Cofounder and present Head Brewer Kirk McHale (far left) to assist him develop recipes. McHale flew to Jackson and posted up on the bar with Tofte. The consequence was 2×4 Double IPA and Melvin IPA.

All good beer recipes begin on a serviette, Tofte says. “It sounds tacky, however that’s precisely what occurred… effectively, extra like a scratch piece of paper as a substitute of a serviette. Kirk and I sat down on the bar at Thai Me Up and wrote recipes for 2×4 and Melvin IPA, simply taking part in round with concepts and flavors and ideas. We brewed these two beers virtually completely for the following six months, other than a few porters and a powerful ale.”

That is the most effective rattling DIPA on the planet,” explains the beer description for 2×4. This beer, a delicate beast with citrus and floral, is deceiving—it doesn’t drink like its 10 p.c ABV. Then there’s Melvin IPA, an intense, fruit-forward IPA centered on aroma as a substitute of bitterness. Melvin IPA weighs in at 7.5 p.c ABV. “These beers acquired higher and higher each time we brewed them,” Tofte remembers of these early days. “We’d roll in each morning and drink espresso, hearken to some hip hop, and simply make shit up as we went.”

Arguably, Thai Me Up is chargeable for Jackson’s greatest beer record. It has twenty faucets, ten devoted to Melvin beers and ten for the most effective beers that may be present in that a part of the nation, says Tofte. “What we will get in Wyoming isn’t too in depth,” he admits, “however we get the perfect beer on faucet that we probably can.”

Thai Me Up’s curated beer record was good for each morale and beer high quality when Melvin acquired began. “Individuals tasted our beers facet by facet with different breweries’ that they knew; the beer record confirmed that we weren’t afraid to be up there with everybody else. We’re happy with our beer.”

Thai Me Up was gradual for the primary few years (after Tofte took it again over after promoting it on eBay and browsing in unique locations around the globe for 2 years), and there have been even just a few occasions that Tofte thought the corporate may exit of enterprise. “We virtually went out of enterprise pursuing the dream,” he says, “however we appeared to at all times have these last-second heroic saves that helped us get excessive. Promoting my 1978 Mercedes Wagon to purchase the preliminary brew system was one in every of them… after which there have been all of the medals.”

In 2012, Melvin’s 2×4 and Melvin IPA took house gold medals from the Nice American Beer Pageant; their Chchchch-Cherry Bomb fruit beer took house the GABF silver. In 2014, 2×4 gained the World Beer Cup gold medal whereas Chchchch-Cherry Bomb gained a bronze. Then in 2015, Chchchch-Cherry Bomb gained a GABF gold and Melvin IPA gained a GABF bronze within the Moist Hops class. As well as, Melvin was awarded the celebrated Small Brewpub of the 12 months Award from the Brewers Affiliation.

“We’ve needed to brew quite a lot of these beers much more after [the awards],” Tofte says, regaling me with tales of brewing contract batches of 2X4 and Melvin IPA on the 30-barrel system at close by Grand Teton Brewing Firm to satisfy the demand. “We’ve at all times experimented and had enjoyable, but when we didn’t have it on [tap], folks can be like, ‘Dude the place’s Melvin IPA?’”

Melvin Brewing Alpine

Enlargement was inevitable for Melvin. It took form within the type of the brewery’s present manufacturing facility in Alpine, Wyoming (pictured above), the place Melvin flagships Melvin IPA, 2×4 DIPA, Hubert (what the brewery calls a Melvin pale ale and others name an IPA), Killer Bees (American blond ale), and Clinic ISA (session IPA) are brewed. The elevated manufacturing of those beers permits Tofte to make use of the brewhouse at Thai Me As much as preserve the beer record rotating with one-offs and experimental batches. Included on this lineup are copious double IPAs that come out of Melvin’s RIIPA, the Rotational Imperial India Pale Ale sequence.

Melvin may be centered on a hoppy beer record that sports activities 5 Double IPAs, however “we’re not one-trick ponies,” says Tofte. “We’re at all times taking part in round with totally different hops and their timings. We make Belgians, imperial porters, espresso porters.” The record goes on to incorporate Jungle Juice, a purple raspberry ale and Heyzeus! (a Mexican lager) amongst many others. The brewery can also be growing a sour-beer program that can launch subsequent 12 months and shortly will debut the Handbook Launch Sequence, named after its guide bottler than can fill about fifteen circumstances of beer every hour. Handbook Launch shall be an experimental sequence that focuses on barrel growing old in addition to totally different grains and yeast strains.

“Mainly, we’re going to maintain leaking out loopy beers to folks,” Tofte says. “We’re at all times going for it. At all times placing the cart earlier than the horse. It’s at all times labored. The intestine is aware of.

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10 Breweries With Bang-Up Barrel Blending Programs

Blending beers combines different batches of sour beers to create not only interesting and nuanced flavors, but to ensure that the sourness of each beer is on point. The beers typically rest in oak barrels held in brewers’ cellars for months—or even year—before they’re brought out for the public’s consumption. Each batch can undergo multiple tastings and tweaks before it’s ready. Not every brewery has the time or resources to go through this type of process, which is why these programs are so rare and the bottles so coveted. Here, we’ve highlighted ten brewers who blend.

Casey Brewing & Blending

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Earlier this year Serious Eats posted an article about Casey Brewing & Blending with the headline “The Hottest Brewer in America Doesn’t Even Brew.” It’s true—owner Troy Casey purchases wort from other craft breweries, and then ferments and ages it in oak barrels. He then blends those barrels together to create well-rounded, nuanced sours that his cult-like following can’t seem to get enough of. Connoisseurs can expect to wait in long lines at the Glenwood Springs brewery on release days.

The Bruery

Placentia, California*

The robust barrel program at The Bruery only continues to grow, and they’re coming out with oak-aged, wild yeast and bacteria-fermented, tart and funky beers under the Bruery Terreux brand. Included in this series are Gypsy Tart, a Flanders-style brown ale, and The Flanders Giant, a whiskey barrel-aged Flanders red ale.

New Belgium Brewing

Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewing sports a massive foeder cellar known fondly as the Foeder Forest where Lauren Salazar, one of the first professional beer blenders in the country, blends her masterpieces that often end up in the Lips of Faith Series.

Allagash Brewing Co.

Portland, Maine

Beers that employ mixed-microbe fermentations are unpredictable to say the least, especially if those microbes are airborne via spontaneous fermentation. Allagash Brewing Co. is one of the first and only breweries in the country to install a coolship to facilitate spontaneous fermentation. These beers are then wood-aged and blended to round out the huge variety of flavors and aromas that are produced in each individual barrel.

Alesong Brewing & Blending

Eugene, Oregon

This new brewery is paying homage to old-world lambic beer brewers with its blending program. These farmhouse-style ales age in retired wine barrels, with mixed cultures of Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces, and lactic acid bacteria, and sometimes fresh fruits and herbs to add further depth.

Wicked Weed Brewing Co.

Asheville, North Carolina

At Wicked Weed, blending is a critical part of the sour beer process. “Black Angel—a black sour aged in bourbon-barrels with tart cherries—might come out one time with really heavy cherry esters, the next might have more barnyard funk,” says Walt Dickinson of Wicked Weed. “You’re trying to make beer as consistent as possible—that’s where blending comes in.”

Hill Farmstead Brewery

Greensboro, Vermont

The many batches of Hill Farmstead’s Civil Disobedience series all represent unexpected blends of the brewery’s beers—some are barrel-aged, some are not. Civil Disobedience #3 is a blend of two of Hill Farmstead’s beers, Arthur and Vera Mae, which were barrel-aged. Civil Disobedience #15 is a blend of many barrels ranging from sixteen to thirty months, then aged further on mangos.

Beachwood BBQ Blendery

*Long Beach, California *

In 2015, the award winning Beachwood BBQ opened the Beachwood Blendery, dedicated to what they call American-style lambics—both fruited and unfruited sour beers created with mixed fermentations in steel and oak barrels. These beers age anywhere from nine months to three years before they are blended. In its first year, the blendery crafted the “Propagation Series,” which includes a foeder-aged Brown Ale, a Berliner Weisse, and a Saison, to experiment with different yeasts and bacteria in an effort to compile its signature lambics.

The Rare Barrel

Berkeley, California

All of The Rare Barrel’s beers are blended, whether barrels within the same batch or barrels from many different batches, which allows them to dial in variables such as acidity and balance to produce beer that they love. The Rare Barrel is a dedicated sour beer brewery focused on wood-aged, mixed fermentations.

Avery Brewing Co.

Boulder, Colorado

Andy Parker, who runs one of the country’s most complex and developed barrel-aging programs at Avery, says that the result of blending is a beer greater than the sum of its parts. Anything goes when it comes to Avery’s Barrel-Aged Series, which includes beers such as Opuntia, a sour ale with a dose of prickly pears that matured in tequila barrels.

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Where to Drink in Boulder, Colorado

While most of the nation gave up on Prohibition in 1933, the town of Boulder was stuck with so-called “non intoxicating” beer of 3.2 percent ABV and below until 1967, when voters finally repealed their own version of an alcohol ban. Perhaps it was pent-up thirst that resulted in Boulder becoming one of the cradles of the modern brewing industry.

It was here that Charlie Papazian created the American Homebrewers Association just 11 years later, and then in 1979 the organization that would become the Brewers Association, the industry’s primary trade association and host of the Great American Beer Festival. And it was also here that two University of Colorado professors secured the 43rd brewing license in the nation in 1979 and started brewing and selling beer out of a former goat shed. That brewery, Boulder Beer Company, still exists, although it has long since matured, along with the city’s beer culture as a whole.

Over the years, Boulder Beer was joined by Twisted Pine, Mountain Sun, which now has five breweries and restaurants, and Avery Brewing, which continues to challenge palates with beers like its 18 percent ABV rum-barrel-aged pumpkin bomb, Rumpkin, and its tart, passionfruit Witbier, Liliko’i Kepolo. Founded in 1993, Avery is now among Colorado’s biggest breweries. In 2015, the brewery moved from its longtime home to a $30 million, 5.6-acre campus with a showplace restaurant.

But Avery isn’t the only one pushing boundaries. Roughly 15 breweries have opened in the past eight years within the city limits, including Upslope, which now has two locations and is building a larger taproom with a full-service restaurant. Some of these breweries are located downtown and along the Pearl Street Mall, Boulder’s famed and funky main street, where you can find potheads mingling with elite athletes and college kids, and street musicians hustling alongside aspiring tech entrepreneurs. But most are in business parks, which provide a relatively cheap and spacious breeding ground for creativity. Many of Boulder’s scientists, chefs, and entrepreneurs got their start in tiny rooms in business parks as well.

Other towns in Boulder County, like Lafayette, Louisville, and Longmont (home to brewing superstars Oskar Blues and Left Hand), have also staked their claims as some of the most vital beer destinations in Colorado, but Boulder itself can’t be overlooked. So, rent a bike, grab your GPS, and immerse yourself in some of the best beer that Colorado has to offer.


Many people start their exploration of Boulder at the historic Pearl Street Mall, if just for the people watching alone. Anchoring the east side of this pedestrian mall is Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery, which, like the People’s Republic of Boulder itself, has always done things its own way: this mellow institution doesn’t take credit cards, doesn’t have TVs, and tends to tap new beers at 4:20 p.m. But the beers here are anything but spaced out. Known for hoppy brews like Colorado Kind Amber Ale and FYIPA, don’t miss Mountain Sun’s Stouts, like Old School Irish Stout, best sampled during its annual Stout Month in February.

On the west side of the mall, you’ll find two very different restaurants known for their beer selections. The first is The Kitchen Upstairs, part of a string of elegant restaurants in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins. The draft list here is small but thoughtful, featuring local, national, and international treats to pair with a seasonal menu of charcuterie and rustic sharing plates, like vegetable paella and prosciutto flatbread. The expansive bottle list offers everything from rare Firestone Walker oddities and difficult-to-find Belgians to local vintage specialties.

For a different vibe, head down the street to the West End Tavern, an unpretentious party spot. There are 25 taps here of mostly local craft (think Telluride Fishwater Double IPA and Upslope Craft Lager) split between bars on the main floor and upstairs. But it’s the second level where you want to set your glass down at a table on the rooftop patio and enjoy some pit-smoked barbecue on a Colorado evening.

Just off the Pearl Street Mall is Rueben’s Burger Bistro, which looks like a ’50s-era diner, but operates at the forefront of beer culture. Its 42 taps feature the best of both Belgium and Colorado, along with some out-of-state specialties. Try a Funkwerks Tropic King Imperial Saison with the Mont Ventoux burger, topped with a layer of fries, bacon, cheddar cheese, and a fried egg on a pretzel bun.

Boulder’s largest tap list—packed with some of the most sought-after brews in the nation and the world—is at Backcountry Pizza & Taphouse. Owner John Fayman has cultivated contacts and allegiances that often make him one of the only spots in Colorado to land rare beers, like La Vermontoise, a collaboration between Brasserie Blaugies and Hill Farmstead, to the newest Double IPAs and barrel-aged Stouts from tiny craft darlings

The Sink, a classic Boulder college hangout that’s been around since the 1920s, has attracted guests from Robert Redford to President Obama with its famous burgers, like the Grass-Fed Garlic Burger with garlic chips, garlic aioli, and garlic sautéed spinach. One of New Belgium’s first Boulder accounts in the early ’90s, its 18 taps include locals like Asher Brewing Tree Hugger Organic Amber and brews by its sister restaurant, West Flanders Brewing on the Pearl Street Mall.

Brewery taprooms are popular local hangouts, too, and a few of the new crop stand out. Among them is Sanitas Brewing, which makes high-quality beers that run the gamut from Session Pales to barrel-aged wild ales. The place also boasts a killer patio, with a view of its namesake, Mount Sanitas. Local tip: look for beer specials when a train rumbles by on the tracks a few feet behind the patio. Close by is Bru Handbuilt Ales & Eats. Founded in a garage by Boulder chef Ian Clark, Bru makes each beer as if it were a dish on his upscale food menu, combining unusual ingredients for unusual flavors, like pizza with IPA tomato sauce or spent-grain cookies paired with Citrum IPA, made with lemon zest and juniper.

Boulder is also home to the state’s first certified all-organic brewery, Asher Brewing. Don’t let the organic label fool you though: their beers are still packed with flavor, like the dank, 60 IBU Greenade Organic Double IPA.

And at father-and-son brewery Finkel & Garf Brewing, a massive snack wall frames the taps behind the bar, with cubbies for chips, pretzels, beef jerky, Twinkies, and Spam. It comes in handy after enjoying a few pints of Rye Saison or Imperial Red.

Most of these breweries sell beer to go, but for one-shop stopping, there’s a pair of independent liquor store powerhouses in Hazel’s Beverage World and Boulder Liquor Mart. The latter is a cavernous space featuring just about every packaged beer made in the state, along with all of the out-of-state breweries that currently distribute in Colorado. 

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Reuben’s Brews: Brewing “Bloody Good” Beer in Ballard

We’ve all heard the previous adage about educating a person to fish. With a slight twist, it usually rings true within the beer business, too: Purchase a person a beer and he’ll drink for an hour, however give him a homebrew equipment and he’ll stop his day job and open a brewery. One thing like that.

When Grace Kim Robbings purchased her husband, Adam, a homebrew equipment just some weeks after their first little one was born, she by no means imagined that the brand new passion would flip into an obsession and utterly alter the course of the younger household’s life. In simply a few years, her husband matriculated from homebrewing beginner to brewmaster and co-owner of certainly one of Seattle’s most ballyhooed breweries: Reuben’s Brews, which was named after the couple’s by-then-toddling son, Reuben.

“Wanting again, I suppose I ought to have seen the warning indicators,” says Grace Robbings. “Adam is a little bit of a foodie, has at all times loved beer, and was attending to the state the place he would pattern a beer and take into consideration methods he would modify it to go well with his tastes. He acquired hooked on brewing instantly, and he began absorbing all the things he probably may about it—from books, buddies, boards, golf equipment, brew faculty, and plenty of market analysis.”

“Bloody Good” Beer
It seems that Adam Robbings has a knack for brewing—maybe a genealogical phenomenon associated to his British roots. The 42-year-old native Londoner moved to the US in 2004 and began homebrewing in 2010, which is when his Roasted Rye IPA gained first place within the Individuals’s Selection Awards on the PNA Winter Beer Style, certainly one of Seattle’s longest-running annual beer occasions.

In 2011, Adam enrolled within the Intensive Brewing Science program on the College of California, Davis to find out about business brewing. The subsequent yr, he opened Reuben’s Brews in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.

Reuben’s Brews gained 5 medals on the inaugural Washington Beer Awards in 2013 and instantly grabbed the eye of native beer lovers. In simply 4 years the brewery has earned over 100 medals, together with a gold medal for its Gose and a bronze medal for its Dry Stout on the 2015 Nice American Beer Competition, and extra lately, one other gold medal on the 2016 World Beer Cup. That’s only the start of the medal depend; throughout Reuben’s Brews’ four-year reign as Seattle’s beer champion, none of Washington State’s 300-plus breweries has amassed extra from nationwide and worldwide beer competitions.

“Adam is a bit reserved, however he’s additionally extremely tenacious,” explains Grace. “He takes the strategy that good isn’t ok, so he strives for bloody good beer in each single glass. He seeks out beer competitions to not up the medal depend, however as a approach to affirm that he’s doing the suitable issues for the beer.”

Adam Robbings | Photo by Jared Moossy

Adam Robbings | Photograph by Jared Moossy

Fan Favorites
The unique brewery was a small 7-barrel system in a tiny house the couple transformed right into a taproom on the weekends. In Might 2015, just a few months shy of its third anniversary, Reuben’s Brews opened a brand new, bigger brewery and taproom simply two blocks from the unique spot, utilizing the previous location as a small-batch facility. In 2015 the brewery produced 2,800 barrels and is heading in the right direction to provide 5,500 barrels this yr, which is at the moment its most annual capability.

A bigger brewing system now feeds the thirsty crowds that pack the taproom. It additionally helps Reuben’s Brews to maintain tempo with wholesale demand for its beer, which it had beforehand managed to self-distribute out of the trunk of Adam’s automotive. As soon as native distributors caught wind of growth plans they started to court docket the younger brewery.

Larry Rock, a former Seattle brewer who now works for Click on Distributing, noticed early promise. “I truly acquired to style samples of Adam’s beers in 2012 simply earlier than they opened the brewery. I used to be blown away and instantly noticed nice issues taking place together with his beer,” he says. “I loved courting Adam and Grace—it was an excuse to drink their beer, in fact. Even earlier than they had been a part of our portfolio I used to be telling folks that they’re top-of-the-line breweries within the nation. And I’d say that even when they’d determined to signal with another person. Up and down the lineup, all the things they brew is excellent.”

Ballard and Past
Living proof: When a brewery creates a beer brewed completely for an area restaurant or pub, the outcome might be unremarkable, designed to enchantment to the widest viewers and the bottom widespread denominator. Not so with Reuben’s Brews. Hop Tropic IPA, which the brewery created for Washington pizza chain Zeek’s Pizza, gained a silver medal on the 2015 North American Beer Awards.

The beer firm was additionally chosen to brew the home IPA for Seattle’s nationally acclaimed, beer-focused bar Brouwer’s Café and its two sister pubs, Burgundian and Bottleworks.

Triumvirate IPA, our home IPA, gained a gold medal on the World Beer Cup,” says Nat Pellman, basic supervisor at Brouwer’s Café. “It’s an thrilling achievement to be part of. Adam is meticulous and it exhibits within the merchandise that he delivers. We’re proud to name him a pal.”

Final month, Reuben’s Brews started packaging its wildly well-liked Crikey IPA in 12-ounce cans, a lot to the delight of Seattle beer fanatics. This month, it celebrates the brewery’s fourth anniversary with an array of small-batch beers to commemorate the event.

It’s laborious to imagine brewery may accomplish a lot in such a short while. To not point out, for Seattle’s hundreds of beer lovers, it seems like Reuben’s Brews has at all times been there.

Predominant brewery:

15-barrel brewhouse
7 30-barrel fermentors
1 60-barrel fermentor
1 30-barrel vivid tank

Small-batch brewery:
7-barrel brewhouse
three 10-barrel fermentors
2 20-barrel fermentors
1 10-barrel vivid tank

On Faucet
Gose: A GABF gold-medal winner, this crushable Gose is clean, barely fruity, and purposely void of any bitterness. four.three% ABV

American Rye Ale: A clear, crisp and refreshing rye-based ale that’s hazy and lightweight in shade, with aromas of tangerine and different citrus fruits. 5.four% ABV

Robust Porter: Roasted malt and caramel dominate the advanced layers of taste on this medium bodied, easy-drinking Porter. 5.9% ABV

Crikey IPA: Assertively hopped, with a number of tropical and piney character, however with a big malt spine to stability the fruitiness. 6.eight% ABV

Imperial Rye IPA: Easy and wealthy, with citrus notes main the best way, a little bit of spiciness from the rye, and bitterness within the end. eight.four% ABV

Imperial IPA: Surprisingly dry for a beer of this model, medium-bodied and really quaffable with distinguished notes of ardour fruit, grapefruit, and pine. 9.four% ABV
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The place to Drink in Tucson, Arizona


In an Arizona desert local weather, the place common excessive temperatures exceed 90 levels from Could to September, Tucson wants its beer. Town’s first brewing firm, the aptly-named Pioneer Brewery, was opened in 1864 by Prussian-born immigrant Alexander Levin. This was simply 11 years after the Gadsden Buy, when the US acquired practically 30,000 sq. miles of present-day Arizona (together with Tucson) and New Mexico from Mexico.

Lower than a decade later, Levin opened a second firm, the Park Brewery, regardless of the area’s difficult atmosphere for beer-making. No hops grew domestically, transportation was sluggish, restricted entry to ice made chilly storage tough, there was little information of pasteurization, yeast was arduous to return by, and so too have been the elements the industrious entrepreneur wanted for his breweries, which he constructed himself.

Levin’s brewing enterprise closed in 1886, by which era the railroad had arrived in Tucson, bringing with it cheaper and extra constantly dependable beers from Europe and elsewhere within the US.

Then issues went quiet for 100 years or so, with not a single brewery showing in Tucson till the Southwest Brewing Firm opened in 1988. Sadly the town’s first microbrewery closed two years later. Not lengthy after, a couple of different pioneering breweries opened that stay in operation at this time: Gentle Ben’s, Nimbus Brewery and Thunder Canyon Brewery.

The truth is, Thunder Canyon now has two places, every with a couple of dozen beers on faucet, together with different Arizona visitor brews. Home choices vary from thirst-quenching European-style Pilsners to extra uncommon however equally refreshing fruit beers (assume apricot, blueberry, raspberry, and plum) and specialty ales like Quad the Impaler, a Belgian-Fashion Quadrupel.

When Nimbus opened in 1996, it produced a mere 200 barrels in its first yr. Regular progress adopted, nevertheless, and in 2001 the brewery opened its present facility hidden away on an industrial property in south Tucson. In the present day, Nimbus is the largest brewery within the state, with a capability of 22,500 barrels a yr. Strive Outdated Monkeyshine, a well-liked English-style Robust Ale that’s dangerously drinkable at eight.2 p.c ABV.

Though Barrio Brewing Company opened in 2007, its roots hint again to 1991, when house owners Dennis and Tauna Arnold began making beer for his or her restaurant, Light Ben’s. As their beer grew in reputation, the Arnolds constructed a devoted brewery in a warehouse in Tucson’s Barrio district. At Barrio’s taproom and restaurant, patrons pair Southwestern consolation meals with home brews like Barrio Blonde and Santa Rita Jefeweizen.

Prior to now 5 years, a wave of recent breweries have opened in Tucson, together with Iron John’s, Dragoon, Ten Fifty-Five, Pueblo Vida, 1912, Borderlands, Sentinel Peak, and Public Brewhouse. Since 2010 the variety of breweries in Tucson has tripled, and issues present no indicators of letting up—six extra plan to open this yr.

Named a UNESCO World Metropolis of Gastronomy in 2014, Tucson has culinary chops, so it’s not stunning to discover a thriving eating scene the place native breweries play their half. Any city space can boast positive eating, and Tucson has its share—particularly within the golf and spa resorts that encompass the town. However it’s the breadth of high quality meals, proper all the way down to road degree, which made Tucson the primary metropolis within the US and solely the 18th on the planet to earn the excellence.

115Destinations2By specializing in two easy issues, pizza and beer joint 1702 is ready to do each supremely nicely. Situated on the College of Arizona’s campus, the spot’s 46 faucets hail from across the state and internationally. Tons of extra by the bottle supply additional temptation. Strive a slice of Mexicali pie (chorizo and inexperienced chile) with a pint of the home Pale Ale, 170(2) Simcoe. For extra beer and pizza, head 5 minutes west to No Anchovies!, the place a extra modest draft record consists of Tucson’s Dragoon alongside different Phoenix-area brews.

The B Line, an off-the-cuff bistro-style restaurant with Mexican-influenced dishes, has 13 brews on faucet, from Arizona and past. You will get a basic deli sandwich together with your draft beer at Bison Witches, however locals come right here for one of many largest bottled beer collections within the metropolis, which is especially sturdy in its illustration of Tucson breweries like Nimbus and Barrio.

For simpler looking, Tucson has a number of bottle outlets that additionally embody bars, just like the Tucson Hop Shop. Situated northeast of downtown, close to the Catalina Foothills within the Metallic Arts Village, this emporium-cum-watering gap is surrounded by artwork, yoga, and tattoo studios. Right here you’ll be greeted by native faucet choices like Borderlands Citrana Wild Ale, plus a bottle choice that runs into the lots of, an outside beer backyard, homebrewing gear, beer seminars, dwell music, and meals vehicles.

Count on an identical setup nearer to downtown at Tap and Bottle, which opened in 2013. Its 21 drafts embody regional gamers like Chandler’s SanTan Brewing and Scottsdale’s McFate Brewing. The hundreds-strong bottle record is backed by dwell music, instructional tastings, and meals vehicles like Tacos el Velvet Elvis, beloved for its carne asada road taco.

Joyful hour followers ought to head to Ermanos Craft Beer and Wine Bar, the place drafts from the entrance bar and tasting room are $1 off till 6 p.m. You’ll discover alternatives from native heroes Dragoon, Sentinel Peak, and Ten Fifty-5, plus over 30 others hailing from Belgium to Utah.

Reverse the historic Lodge Congress and subsequent to the Rialto Theater, Good Oak Bar shares area with Diablo Burger (a Southwestern cult favourite), and it’s the type of busy, pleasant bar you hope to search out wherever you journey. It at all times has a number of Tucson brews on faucet (like Borderlands Calamondin Lime Gose or Dragoon Stronghold Session Ale) together with beer from elsewhere in Arizona and some breweries additional afield. Additionally they carry native wines and spirits to pattern with their inventive tacos and different pub fare.

Six miles to the east on Speedway Boulevard is Rj’s Replays, a sports activities bar that pays as a lot consideration to its beers as its high-def screens. There are 29 HDTVs, plus a collection of 140 beers, 32 of them on faucet. They embody Barrio and Dragoon from Tucson, a wholesome quantity from the remainder of Arizona, and acquainted manufacturers from in all places from Michigan to Mexico. Strive Kilt Lifter, a Scottish-style Ale made by 4 Peaks Brewing in Tempe, or Piehole Porter, which Flagstaff’s Historic Brewing Co. brews with recent cherries and vanilla beans.
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Cruising By way of Cascadia: Important Pacific Northwest Beer Experiences

Each beer geek has their comfortable place. A favourite bar stool inside sniffing distance of fermenting wort or an inviting spot to speak with a pleasant bartender. Maybe it’s someplace to journey to often, or a brewpub with a transcendent menu and an environment to match. Lately, beer tourism has turn into a significant calling, with 1000’s of individuals making annual cross-country and even worldwide treks for uncommon beer releases, brewery excursions, and festivals. Whether or not it’s to Denver for the Nice American Beer Fest or to Germany for beer gardens and Bavarian Weizen, the choices are quite a few. However the Pacific Northwest is one vacation spot that deserves to be on the radar of any decided beercationer seeking to pack in all kinds of experiences.

The Pacific Northwest, or Cascadia as many hardcore locals wish to name it, is a inexperienced, lush place that prides itself on high quality of life and the standard of its water—two enticing virtues for thirsty guests. From Portland, Ore., as an illustration, a traveler can drive three hours north to board a cruise ship visiting state parks, wildlife refuges, and breweries or 4 hours south to Central Oregon to remain at a boutique resort with common brewers’ dinners and day journeys like a mountain biking and brew tour. Or, in case your thought of the proper trip is rest, then spend a day soaking in a scorching bathtub of malt and hops and getting a therapeutic massage at America’s first beer spa.

Mattress & Beer
McMenamins, a family-owned brewery and hospitality chain with 54 areas, has created a Pacific Northwest legacy constructed on beer that extends to restoring historic properties. Whenever you discuss of beer getaways within the area, these lodges and pubs (25 with on-­web site brewing amenities) are central to the dialog. And so they aren’t simply locations to tip again a pint; Edgefield in Troutdale, Ore., for instance, has a resort, a golf course, and a distillery and hosts nationwide touring acts that play summer season live shows on the garden.

Launched in 1974 by brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin, the corporate’s founders have been instrumental in getting a 1985 legislation handed in Oregon that allowed breweries to function their very own retail area. “When McMenamins first began, we have been an organization of neighborhood pubs and breweries,” says brewery normal supervisor Rob Vallance. “As we’ve grown and opened vacation spot properties, we’ve tried to remain true to our origins. Having all kinds of freshly made beers has at all times been of paramount significance to our philosophy.”

The corporate just lately opened a brand new property in Bothell, Wash., (East of Seattle throughout Lake Washington), refurbishing the Anderson School into its newest crown jewel. This restored junior highschool has six bars together with The North Shore Lagoon, a tiki-­impressed area with a bar prime comprised of the Balinese monkey pod tree and a full-sized swimming pool lined with tropical Hawaiian flora. And McMenamins exemplifies Cascadia’s DIY artisan spirit, not solely making its personal beer but in addition roasting espresso and producing wine and spirits, all whereas preserving the area’s previous in new consuming establishments.

In downtown Bend, Ore., McMenamins operates the Old St. Francis School, simply blocks from the unique Deschutes Public House and Boneyard Beer’s tasting room. The Bohemian­-style resort was beforehand a Catholic schoolhouse. Immediately, its former lecture rooms comprise visitor rooms, a movie show, a restaurant, a basement brewery, and even a mosaic-tiled soaking pool. This summer season, it added 41 rooms. Subsequent up, McMenamins is restoring the historic Elks Lodge Temple in Tacoma, Wash., for a 2017 opening.

Additionally in Bend, Tetherow Resort is the realm’s finest boutique resort and an incredible base camp for all the outside actions within the Deschutes River Valley. With seasonal brewers’ pairing dinners at The Row, its pub, and rotating native drafts devoted to the realm’s craft breweries within the fall and winter, there are few higher locations to flee. Plus, in July Tetherow debuts a brand new indoor-outdoor pool with scorching tubs, cabanas, and fireplace pits along with one of many nation’s most anticipated golf programs.

Two hours north, the Columbia River Gorge separating Oregon and Washington is outstanding sufficient for it’s beautiful views, climbing and biking trails, and fishing alternatives. It’s additionally house to greater than half a dozen breweries. For a little bit selection, find time for the “fruit loop,” a 35-­mile self guided tour full of farm stands, wineries, cideries, and a pair of breweries (Solera and Logsdon) all providing tastings throughout the summer season season. The views of Mt. Hood aren’t unhealthy, both. The Skamania Lodge on the Washington aspect of the gorge—a five-minute drive from Walking Man Brewing—must be your base of operations, particularly if you may make it in September for his or her annual Celebration of Beer Competition. Organizers invite a few of the finest brewers from the gorge and larger Portland for beer-tasting courses, pairing dinners, and a mini competition with outside grilling and stay music on the lodge’s entrance garden, full with its lovely views of the gorge.

Cog Wild leads Bike & Brew tours around Bend, Ore.

Cog Wild leads Bike & Brew excursions round Bend, Ore. | Picture courtesy of Cog Wild

A Little Train
Within the Pacific Northwest, having fun with good beer isn’t restricted to public homes, taprooms, and competition grounds. Central Oregon is world­-class mountain biking territory with a community of lots of of miles of trails. When Cog Wild Mountain Bike Excursions in Bend, Ore., added a beer and biking combo to its choice of normal mountain biking journeys, the corporate wasn’t certain anybody would join them. Now they’re so common the journeys from Bend and the Columbia River Gorge promote out nicely prematurely. There may be nothing fairly like rewarding your self after an incredible journey or easing the ache of a scraped knee with an ice chilly can of GoodLife Brewing Candy As! Pacific Ale.

Russ Risdon has been main Cog Wild Bike & Brew excursions for the previous six years and considers them amongst his private favorites. In keeping with Russ, the thought of mixing excursions was apparent. “Most mountain bike rides finish with just a few trailhead barley sodas shared amongst mates,” he says. “With all the good breweries in Bend… it appeared pure to mix our bike excursions with brewery excursions.”

Total, Bend could be the perfect little beer city within the US. Along with dozens of craft breweries each small and huge, it’s nicely located for a spread of out of doors actions. And why not combine some cardio in with the carbohydrates? “Bend is an ideal vacation spot for beer journey,” says Ryan Sharp, a accomplice in Central Oregon Beer Week and the Better of Craft Beer Awards. “Along with 28 breweries within the area, Central Oregon has a few of the most lovely climbing, biking, snowboarding, and floating within the nation. The breadth and depth of Central Oregon’s outside actions is matched solely by its breweries.”

After which there’s whitewater rafting—as exhilarating as a curler coaster journey and as refreshing as a swim within the lake. Add beer into the combination and it’s exhausting to beat. This mix in all probability explains the recognition of the beer holidays supplied by journey clothing store O.A.R.S. The corporate’s Craft Beer Tasting Journeys on Oregon’s Rogue River provide company three days of rafting, tenting, and connoisseur meals. After ramping up your coronary heart price with swift currents and large waves, loosen up on the seashore with a beer pairing dinner whereas reminiscing concerning the day’s pleasure.

Generally an adrenaline-pumping day of out of doors exercise requires a recharge. If you wish to spend a day being pampered or simply aren’t the sporty sort, it’s exhausting to prime the newly opened Hop within the Spa in Sisters, Ore. Billing itself as America’s first beer spa, proprietor Sally Champa has teamed up with Deschutes Brewery to work beer or its components into your complete spa package deal. Begin off with a cleaning beer and hops sugar scrub whereas your toes soak in heat beer, hops, and barley. Afterward, replenish your pores and skin with a hop oil therapeutic massage or an natural hop steam. Alternatively, can e-book a Microbrew Soak & Therapeutic massage package deal that features time in a cedar tub stuffed with scorching water, hops, barley, and minerals accompanied by a pint of your favourite Deschutes beer.

Different occasions, although, you don’t need to be within the water however on it. Based mostly in Washington, the tall ship Schooner Zodiac gives a novel West Coast weekend getaway for the beer lover. Assuming you don’t get seasick, this sailboat cruise leaves from Bellingham close to the Canadian border and visits the breweries of the San Juan Islands. Passengers will hit a number of Puget Sound brewpubs and hopefully see dolphins, sea lions, and whales whereas exploring the hidden coves and quiet inlets of this pristine maritime panorama. Over 4 busy days you’ll be taught to homebrew, pair beer and meals, and find out how to function a crusing vessel. You may meet a brewmaster from The Pike or Port Townsend, too.

Canada Calling
Northwest of Seattle, throughout the Strait of Juan de Fuca and past the whale watching within the San Juan Islands, is Canada’s authentic craft beer metropolis: Victoria, British Columbia. Accessible solely by constitution boat or ferry, Victoria is the capital of the province and has roots as a British colony. The English affect interprets strongly at this time with Victorian structure, formal gardens, even a palatial 19th century mansion referred to as Craigdarroch Citadel. It additionally has a penchant for cask conditioned beers. “Victoria is BC’s ‘craft beer capital,’ house to Canada’s first brewpub, Spinnakers, which opened in 1984 and remains to be going robust at this time, together with one other dozen various breweries and brewpubs,” says Joe Wiebe, a longtime Victoria resident, famous beer creator, and founding father of Victoria Beer Week. “[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][It’s] best for a craft beer pilgrimage.”

Want extra motivation? Town’s two authentic brewpubs—Spinnakers and Swans—each provide comfy lodging for out-of-­city guests. At Spinnakers, company can select between bungalows, suites, or a Victorian guesthouse. And the pub and restaurant serve farm-to-table fare with malt vinegars, baked items, and candies made in home. Every day cask specials and three completely different consuming settings together with a hearth, a second flooring taproom, and a coated waterfront patio have made this spot a perennial favourite. Simply throughout the Johnson Avenue Bridge, Swans has additionally constructed a robust fame. Its Beer Lovers’ Retreat package deal covers lodging, bottled beer upon arrival, and dinner for 2.

In keeping with Wiebe, although, BC’s “best beer­-soaked street journey” is the Sunshine Coast­ Vancouver Island Circle Route, a street journey that may take as little as three days or as a lot as per week. The journey begins in Victoria and heads north via Vancouver Island alongside a few of the most beautiful shoreline in North America. En route, cease in cities like Duncan, Chemainus, and Nanaimo, and permit time to take pleasure in lovely Rathtrevor Seaside in Parksville earlier than hitting the street once more. About an hour additional north is the Comox Valley, the place three new breweries have opened previously two years.

From right here, leap on the Comox Ferry and cross the Strait of Georgia to the Sunshine Coast. Within the city of Powell River, drop by Townsite Brewing, a hidden gem the place the Belgian-born Cédric Dauchot instructions the kettles. Then, for those who can pull your self away, cease at Gibsons on the way in which south and take a look at Persephone Brewing. Lastly, take one final ferry to Horseshoe Bay, the late house of BC’s first microbrewery. “Increase a pint of Bay Ale on the Troller Ale Home simply throughout from the marina earlier than you drive into Vancouver, or catch a ferry again to Vancouver Island,” says Wiebe.

One Meal To not Miss
Nice eating places abound within the Pacific Northwest, however any prolonged journey to the area ought to embody a cease at an modern newcomer in Seattle. At Mollusk, brewer Cody Morris of the notoriously experimental Epic Ales continues his ongoing collaborations with chef Travis Kukull. Earlier than its first birthday, Mollusk rapidly turned one of many premiere venues for exploring the intersection of beer and meals and concentrates on unconventional dishes with a robust revisionist tackle Asian delicacies. At first look, menu gadgets like fish and chips may appear acquainted, till you discover artistic accents like kimchee and curry aioli. Ditto for the seafood waffle topped with octopus, kewpie, bonito flakes, and seasonal pickles.

To pair with such unusual however delightfully difficult dishes, Morris is brewing with components like nettles, oysters, and squid ink. He insists it’s not experimental for its personal sake, however merely a much less limiting method. “[Our beers are] nearer to what beer was for the primary 5,950 years [of] brewing.”

In truth, the menu is so experimental for the South Lake Union neighborhood that native diners have approached Mollusk’s meals with some trepidation. So whereas foodies and critics embraced Kukull’s innovation, space residents haven’t. “We simply need to present that beer is just not so simple as individuals understand,” says Kukull, who stepped down as head chef in late June. “Asian flavors and merchandise have a tendency to boost the complexity of beer, it opens individuals as much as considering outdoors the field, and it awakens their senses, kick-starts the mind into serious about the meals and drinks they’re consuming.”

With meals gross sales failing to maintain tempo with the beer, Morris will adapt Mollusk’s menu to draw a wider viewers whereas preserving the essence of the idea. “The meals program is simplifying… however with a continued deal with high-quality components,” he says. “We even have launched a significant vinegar program and are making mustards and scorching sauces with the vinegar we’re producing in home.” Beer pairing favorites just like the in-house charcuterie program and teaming up with native cheesemakers for beer-washed cheeses will proceed, nevertheless. And Morris nonetheless plans on “doing occasions centered round beer releases with meals that pair with that beer, coursed beer-paired dinners, and themed mini-festivals.”
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Three Heads Brewing: 5 Necessities

In line with the idiom, two heads are higher than one. As for 3 heads, nicely, the jury’s nonetheless out on that one. Though for a trio of mates dwelling in upstate New York however enamored with West Coast ales, Three Heads went from homebrewers’ dream to actuality in 2010. Combining a cool angle with a beneficiant dose of IBU, Three Heads steadily gained over drinkers, rising its manufacturing of beers like The Kind IPA and Rochestafarian Wee Heavy Ale to three,400 barrels in 2015. Earlier this summer time, Three Heads opened its personal $four million facility with a 30-barrel brewhouse on Atlantic Avenue in Rochester, transitioning from contract brewing at CB Craft Brewers in Honeoye Falls. Now that the ribbon has been minimize, listed here are the 5 issues that companions Dan Nothnagle, Todd Dirrigl, Geoff Dale and Brian Johnson (who joined the corporate later) say they’ll’t stay with out.

1. Dwell Music
“Music has at all times been on the core of what we do,” says Dale, himself a guitarist. “Early on, we made it a degree to incorporate stay unique music in any main occasion we do. It creates vitality and takes a tasting and makes it an occasion you can not miss. Every thing is extra enjoyable when music is concerned and consuming beer is not any totally different.” Practically each weekend the brand new brewery hosts performances from native acts like Large Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad, Moho Collective, and Subsoil.

Three Heads Brewing2. Label Paintings 
With colourful packaging that includes carefree hippies, laid-back yetis and rampaging pandas, Three Heads stands out on the shelf. In line with Dale, it’s all a part of the plan. “Advertising issues,” he says. “You have to give individuals a motive to choose up your bottle while you’re not there to speak in regards to the beer. Our artist, Allen Firlit, captures our essence in his paintings. It has been an enormous a part of serving to to unfold our model.”

115FiveEssentials2three. The Metropolis of Rochester
Once they determined it was time to open a brick and mortar brewery, the companions knew precisely the place to construct. “We’re all proud youngsters of this metropolis,” explains Dale. “It’s and at all times will likely be our dwelling. We’ve got named many beers after native landmarks or individuals from [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Rochester]. For a very long time after we grew up, there was a sure degree of disdain towards the town by its residents. Lately, that has modified, and we’re proud to be a small a part of the native satisfaction that’s rising right here.”

Three Heads Brewingfour. A Distribution Accomplice
Whereas contract brewing at CB Craft Brewers, Three Heads lacked the flexibility to promote its beer on to customers. This made discovering the correct distributor much more necessary. “Lake Beverage has been an unimaginable accomplice in our metropolis,” Dale insists, including that the 2 corporations have labored collectively since January 2014. “From the second we signed with them, we’ve got created an incredible partnership. We’ve got nice communication and have been in a position to modify our brewing schedule continuously to assist meet their wants.”

Three Heads Brewing5. Our Followers
Greater than half a decade within the beer enterprise has given Dale quite a bit to replicate on. However the very first thing that involves thoughts is gratitude. “Our followers are what actually makes this brewery,” he insists. “The extent of help we obtain from the group is overwhelming and it comes from all walks of life. They’ve at all times gone out of their technique to get our beer into institutions [and] they unfold the phrase throughout the nation. They’re the explanation we’ve got been in a position to go from a basement to a 20,000-square-foot facility in underneath six years. We’d be nothing with out them.”
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Pedals and Pints: Bike Path Breweries Enchantment to Cyclists

For a lot of cyclists, having fun with a chilly beer is now not only a reward for ending a difficult journey, it’s the aim of the journey itself.

“Craft beer appeals to cyclists’ sense of independence and journey,” says Invoice Watts, an skilled bike owner who has accomplished long-distance rides all around the nation. “These are individuals who get locations on their very own, they usually recognize a product that’s made with out synthetic enhancements and shortcuts.”

He has a degree. Good beer has lengthy been the popular gasoline for cyclists and now, from Ashburn, Va., to Sebastpool, Calif., breweries are popping up alongside the nation’s bike trails, interesting to riders and reaping the advantages. Actually, various brewery founders—Sierra Nevada’s Ken Grossman and Cycle Brewing’s Doug Dozark each come to thoughts—are themselves advocates for two-wheeled transportation. Plus, lately, cities have added bike lanes and bike sharing techniques virtually as quick as new beer corporations have appeared. The argument might be made that America’s brewing renaissance has developed alongside a renewed curiosity in biking.

“Within the early days of brewpubs and native breweries, I might deal with them as a vacation spot, and journey out to them,” Watts says. “I’ve ridden a number of occasions to Lafayette Brewing Company [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][in Lafayette, Ind.], which out and again makes for a pleasant 100-mile journey.”

Arcadia Canal Path | OHSO
On a stunning weekend afternoon, it’s common to see as many as 200 bikes locked up alongside the Arcadia Canal Path that runs behind the Outrageous Homebrewers Social Outpost (OHSO), says supervisor Summer time Wright. So, it’s no shock that bikes are a prevailing theme within the thriving Phoenix nanobrewery’s décor. A lot of OHSO’s faucet handles are repurposed bike pedals and a row of bikes atop the again fence with followers for wheels cool patio patrons. And, not solely does the brewery’s again patio have a lot of lockable racks, riders can make the most of a built-in restore station to tighten a number of bolts or pump some air into their tires, too.

On the faucet listing, which incorporates quite a few choices from different Arizona breweries, the lighter Handlebar Hefe is a favourite amongst riders. Twice a 12 months, OHSO hosts a bike-in beer competition, that includes reside music, meals vans, and many visitor faucets.

Little Miami Scenic Path | Fifty West
Few breweries are as related to their native biking group as Fifty West Brewing in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Little Miami Scenic Path, a 78.1-mile route, hyperlinks with the car parking zone, and advertising director Tommy Hemmer estimates a 3rd or extra of their prospects arrive on two wheels. So many, in truth, that Fifty West is presently putting in much more bike racks to fulfill demand. The wedding has been so profitable that they even opened a full-service high-end bike store on the property and have been designated a gold-level Bike-Pleasant Vacation spot by the Queen Metropolis Bike group.

“Our complete model is constructed across the thought of a highway journey from coast to coast utilizing Route 50, so we attempt to convey a message of journey and self-exploration,” says Hemmer. A number of organized weekly rides additionally begin and end on the brewery, together with a girls’s journey and one other primarily for workers.

Pisgah Nationwide Park | Oskar Blues
At Oskar Blues Brewing Company, biking and beers have been intertwined since Dale Katechis based the enterprise in 1997; it additionally could be the solely brewery with its personal in-house bike model, REEB Cycles. So when the Colorado-based firm determined to develop, it selected Brevard, N.C., the undisputed Shangri-La of East Coast singletrack mountain biking. Practically on daily basis, tons of of thirsty riders journey the dust and cinder trails that lead from downtown Brevard and the favored Davidson Campground in Pisgah Nationwide Park to the brewery.

After conquering Pisgah’s rocky and difficult terrain, weary riders usually cool off with pints of Dale’s Pale Ale and Pinner Session IPA and refill on Oskar Blues-branded bike jerseys, socks, and different bike gear. (Professional tip: Make certain the brewery’s ChubBurger meals truck is open earlier than you end up three pints in.)

Strolling into Oskar Blues is “the very best affirmation you survived Pisgah,” says Tim O’Donnell, an avid mountain biker who builds customized metal bikes underneath the Shamrock Cycles moniker. “The brewery completely captures the vibe of the paths and the city of Brevard. Stopping there after a journey seems like having an superior trailside beer together with your buddies, however you’ve got a waitress to convey you extra.”

Photo by Robert Annis

Photograph by Robert Annis

W&OD Rail Path | Outdated Ox
When the founders of Old Ox Brewery determined to launch their 30-barrel brewery, they instantly honed in on a spot in Ashburn, Va., simply off the 45-mile Washington & Outdated Dominion (W&OD) Rail Path.

“We acknowledged the chance that the path provided,” says president Chris Burns. “There wasn’t a lot for riders alongside this stretch of the path. From day one, we made certain we had signage on the path, a transparent view of the brewery from the path and a pleasant path to our door. It’s really simpler to search out Outdated Ox from the bike path than it’s from the highway.”

Burns knew attracting cyclists can be paramount to the success of his brewery, so he added bike racks, pumps, and fundamental instruments for purchasers arriving on two wheels. Outdated Ox even presents chilly water and restrooms for path riders when the brewery is closed. Phrase shortly unfold among the many biking group, who now account for 40 % of enterprise on weekends.

And the 2-year-old, family-run firm has extra cycle-centric plans for the longer term, together with a refreshing bike-themed Radler that ought to debut this summer time. It’s additionally organizing a brewery-to-brewery social journey with Caboose Brewing Co. 13 miles away in Vienna, Va., with proceeds benefiting the native path group.

Photo by Tim Bottchen

Photograph by Tim Bottchen

Katy Path | Augusta Brew Haus
One current weekday in Augusta, Mo., Augusta Brew Haus co-owner Terry Heisler seen solely two automobiles within the car parking zone, however counted greater than 30 bikes parked exterior within the racks. In the meantime, he says, 80 % of weekend prospects arrive by the Katy Path simply exterior the brewery’s again door. The 225-mile pathway stretching from Sedalia to St. Charles brings in vacationers from all throughout the nation, in addition to native patrons who hold coming again for draft choices like the favored Espresso Porter, which mixes two passions shared by many avid cyclists: beer and occasional. Heisler says enterprise is so good that he tripled Augusta’s brewing capability since taking up possession six years in the past.

The pet-friendly Brew Haus can be nicely served by partnerships with two bike retailers on the town. Pop A Wheelie subsequent door providers bikes, nevertheless it takes care of riders with a candy tooth too, doubling as an ice cream parlor. Heisler runs a joint particular with Katy Path Bicycle Rental 7 miles down the path, providing a flight of 4 beers with each bike rental receipt.

Monon Rail Path | Broad Ripple
With greater than 200 miles of greenways and bike lanes crisscrossing metro Indianapolis, it’s extremely simple to discover a brewery inside a number of pedal strokes of a path. The oldest of the bunch is Broad Ripple Brewpub, which really predates the Monon Rail Path positioned throughout the road. However for the reason that 18.1-mile path was constructed within the late 1990s, it’s had a big affect on enterprise—supervisor Jessica Beutien estimates that a couple of in 5 patrons arrive by bike.

“A number of the workers know bikes fairly nicely and journey into work,” Beutien says. “[And] lots of our bike owner prospects like with the ability to have a pint (of our signature Lawnmower Pale Ale) and geek out on bike components with somebody.”

The brewpub is a frequent cease on the favored Thirsty Thursday City Trip Downtown (TTURD) that leaves from the Bike Line, a full-service bike store positioned simply two doorways down on Cornell Avenue. It’s additionally common for store workers to assist brewery prospects with their downside autos free of charge.

“I like stopping there once I’m using on the Monon,” says Kevin Whited, a bike owner and government director of the IndyCog bicycle advocacy group. “John Hill, the proprietor, actually helps biking, ensuring early on there was loads of bike parking for all of the riders. However most significantly, they’ve actually good beer.”

Joe Rodota Path | HopMonk
Situated initially of California’s eight.5-mile Joe Rodota Path, HopMonk in Sebastopol presents a fantastic launching level for a motorcycle tour of a few of Sonoma County’s hottest breweries, together with Russian River in Santa Rosa and, additional afield, Bear Republic in Healdsburg. Common supervisor Invoice DeCarli estimates that about 10 % of the clientele journey to the brewpub, with many pedaling immediately into the expansive out of doors beer backyard that has loads of area for locking up bikes. With 14 faucets, together with 4 home beers, there’s normally one thing for everyone, however the HopMonk IPA, with a hoppy, citrusy taste, a average ABV, and simply the correct amount of chunk, is a well-liked selection amongst riders.

Randy Johnson runs Getaway Adventures, a bike-touring firm in Santa Rosa that focuses on wine- and beer-tasting rides. He presently visits HopMonk about twice per week, however expects that to extend together with the variety of microbreweries within the space. “The benefit of attending to HopMonk through the bike path is nice for individuals searching for extra of a stress-free journey,” Johnson says. Shoppers “love the low-key surroundings. The workers usually take the time to show new beer drinkers about their choices, telling them what they will count on to style and why.”

TART Path | Proper Mind
Only a block off the TART path that winds by way of downtown Traverse Metropolis, Mich., Right Brain Brewery is already a well-liked vacation spot for vacationers and native endurance athletes. However it may change into much more crowded when a proposed growth of the 10.5-mile paved hall round Boardman Lake brings joggers, walkers, and cyclists to the brewery’s again door throughout the subsequent two years.

“As an endurance athlete myself, I like having fun with a 10 % Bourbon Barrel Stout understanding I really earned it,” says manufacturing supervisor Jeff Houser. “We [at the brewery] all like to swap warfare tales and be social. Sitting round with a superb beer, that’s what it’s all about.”

Proper Mind additionally sponsors groups like Hagerty Biking, who usually use the brewery as a post-ride gathering place.
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Beercation: “Brew” Central New York

100 years in the past, the hills of central New York—from Syracuse to Cooperstown and past—had been lined in hops farms. For a big time within the American historical past of brewing, it was the place to develop the bines that produce these bitter little cones. These had been the times earlier than wire trellises, when hops farms would practice the bines to climb round picket posts planted within the floor, and it took guide labor to strip the cones from the bines.

Then one thing horrible occurred—an outbreak of downy mildew decimated the 1909 crop, and an infestation of aphids in 1914 was sufficient to persuade a lot of the main farms to shift gears. By the point Prohibition rolled round, the hops farms had been largely gone, and hops manufacturing shifted to the Pacific Northwest. Farmers planted different crops or switched to dairy, as refrigeration made it doable to ship their items right down to the burgeoning inhabitants of New York Metropolis. Hops turned a footnote of New York state historical past, buried beneath layers of soil now fertilized by gents’s farms.

However hops, you understand, are a hardy plant. They could die again within the winter, however they sprout once more within the spring. In dry years, the bines may die off however the root rhizome conserves its power to reside one other yr. They’re hardy and exhausting to kill. And should you can’t see the place this metaphor goes, then let me simply clarify it to you—New York’s homespun beer heritage may need gone dormant for some time, nevertheless it was simply biding its time for extra favorable situations.

At this time, by means of the exhausting work of politically lively brewers, civic-minded legislators, a forward-thinking governor who seems to be out for small enterprise and unbiased entrepreneurs, and new legal guidelines constructed to help the brewing trade all through the state, New York is reclaiming its beer heritage, and the center of that reclamation effort beats within the middle of the state, in an space they’ve not too long ago dubbed “Brew Central New York.”

Political Will

The factor that units New York aside from different facilities of beer tradition across the nation is the legislative exercise of the brewers’ guild and the relationships they’ve inbuilt Albany, the state capital. In 2016 alone, 4 new legal guidelines benefitting craft brewers went into impact, cleansing up tough guidelines and laws from prior laws and making it simpler to construct and develop a craft brewery. Brewers in most states are completely satisfied to get one new regulation handed each few years. However not in New York.

In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Farm Brewery invoice—a sweeping piece of laws aimed not simply at selling the expansion of brewing within the state, however all of the attendant industries as properly—agricultural manufacturing of hops and barley, malting, and many others. Below provisions of the regulation, it’s very straightforward and streamlined to get a farmhouse brewery license, with the caveat that by 2024, 90 p.c of the hops and malt utilized by the breweries have to be grown in New York State.

Whereas this may sound like a pie-in-the-sky ultimate, the true world penalties are phenomenal. In 2013, hops acreage in New York State was so small as to not be tracked by the Hop Growers of America annual statistical report. Then in 2014, that acreage grew to a reported 150 acres. In 2015, that acreage grew once more to 250 acres. Whereas this can be a drop within the bucket in comparison with the PNW powerhouse states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, contemplate what number of acres had been planted within the neighboring states of Vermont (45 acres), Pennsylvania (5.5 acres), and New Jersey (1 acre). In 2015, New York State accounted for 20 p.c of all U.S. hops grown outdoors of the PNW. As a state, it’s fifth in manufacturing general behind the massive three plus Michigan.

On the malt aspect, craft maltster Pioneer Malting in Rochester works with New York’s barley farmers to develop barley for malting to their specs. And bigger industrial maltsters are shifting into the state so as to provide NY-malted grains to fulfill these necessities.

The laws has kickstarted nothing in need of a top-to-bottom provide chain revolution, however with that primary premise in place, let’s get to the meat of the matter—the beer (and locations to drink it).


It’s exhausting to get extra central than Syracuse, smack dab in the midst of the state. This faculty city is likely to be finest recognized for its dominant basketball program, nevertheless it’s all the time had a cool, countercultural streak as properly. The nineties’ metalcore legends Earth Disaster referred to as Syracuse residence, and extra not too long ago downtown Syracuse has been experiencing a artistic revival with companies and residents profiting from the cool, historic, cheap industrial actual property.

Empire Brewpub's Hops Sculpture

The Empire brewpub’s sculptural tackle hops.

Downtown, begin at Empire. This subterranean brewpub has been a staple since 1994, with a full menu and an intensive lineup of their very own beers, together with the award-winning Skinny Atlas Mild blonde ale and Black Magic Stout. Order a Kobe Burger with their American “Wagyu” beef for causes you’ll quickly perceive.

Throughout the road from Empire, pop in to Blue Tusk, a pub that’s flown the flag for craft beer in Syracuse since 1995. Proprietor Mike Yorton is kind of a personality, and that persona and fervour are mirrored in his beer choice and repair. Whether or not you seize a seat on the bar or tuck into one of many extra non-public cubicles within the again, it’s a basic and cozy place to down a pint of Different Half IPA or the most recent draft-only launch from Brewery Ommegang.

The Blue Tusk

Blue Tusk Proprietor Mike Yorton is aware of his beer and pulls in the most effective from the area and all over the world.

If you happen to’re up for heftier fare, swing over to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que—the (now) chain bought its begin in Syracuse, and that is restaurant #1. Then pop into Middle Ages Brewing for a style of their English-inspired ales. Brewing geeks will need to try their direct-fire mash tun and open fermentors—they embrace historic methods in addition to kinds.

Skaneateles and Camillus

The various small cities of Central New York make it good for exploring, and the relative proximity of the assorted cities means you’ll by no means be within the automotive uncomfortably lengthy. Make your first cease at Local 315. When the time period “farmhouse brewery” is thrown round within the beer world, it will probably imply something from a brewery and taproom in downtown Boston to a concrete warehouse within the mountains of Colorado, however when Native 315 makes use of the time period, they actually imply farmhouse. Their chickens, goats, and donkey are fenced right into a pen that adjoins the brewhouse and taproom, and so they develop their very own hops on just a few trellises proper there on the property. Within the area behind the brewery, they’ve planted pumpkins as a fall attraction.


Native 315 raises sheep, goats, chickens, and a donkey within the shadow of their brewhouse.

Local 315's pink tractor

Native 315’s pink tractor.

Then head to Skaneateles for a go to to Finger Lakes On Tap. Their sixty faucets are stuffed primarily with native New York breweries, making it an awesome place to pattern a spread of the area’s most interesting.

From there, head east into apple nation and don’t miss the tasting room at 1911 Spirits. A fifth-generation household enterprise, this large orchard (they estimate they’ve greater than 350,000 apple bushes!) has diversified as of late into exhausting cider and distilled spirits, and so they have the bushes to do it. Whereas different cider makers wrestle to seek out flavorful cider apples, this household has been rising culinary varieties from the beginning that add layer and depth to their cider. And if you need one thing more durable, the apple vodka and gin are wonderful.

1911 Hard Cider

1911 Spirit’s tasting room is superbly perched overlooking the household’s orchard.


Southeast of Syracuse, within the small city of Cazenovia, Empire Brewing not too long ago realized their imaginative and prescient and opened their farmhouse manufacturing brewery. This attractive new facility is thoughtfully designed to assist the brewery work with the surroundings round them, from the acre or two of hops trellises they’ve planted in entrance of the brewery to their spent grain transport system. Whereas most breweries should truck their grain out to farmers to be used as feed, Empire’s brewery is situated precisely throughout the road from the farm the place the American Wagyu beef they serve is raised. A pipe attracts the used grain from the mash tun the place it’s deposited in a hopper connected to a tractor that drives it throughout the road when full, tightening the circle of reuse and sustainability. All the pieces from the beer to the meals to the décor is properly thought out, and the dual turntables within the taproom connected to regionally made McIntosh tube amps are a contact that any audiophile will respect.

Empire's New Brewhouse

Empire believes in native, and their brand-new brewhouse was constructed by an area producer.

Empire's Building BW

Empire’s constructing is designed to seem like a standard hops home.

Empire Founder David Katleski's record collection

Empire Brewing’s new manufacturing brewery in Cazenovia showcases Founder David Katleski’s report assortment and consists of classic tube amps made in Binghamton, New York, by McIntosh Labs.

For an informal lunch, cease by the historic Lincklaen House and head to the basement pub for a step again in time. If exhausting spirits are your factor, locals Life of Reilly distilling provides some in style flavored vodkas.

Hops Heritage

Farther east in Munnsville, cease by Foothills Hops Farm the place Larry (pictured at high) and Kate Fisher put their first hops within the floor again in 2001. If you happen to’re a fan of business engineering, ask to see Fisher’s selfmade wolf picker and hops separator—his day job operating an engine restore enterprise ready him properly for the problem of constructing his personal equipment for hops harvesting and processing. Fisher now boasts a number of acres of hops and is opening a brewery and taproom along with the homebrew store on the farm.

Foothills Hops Farm

A area at Foothill Hops Farm.

Foothills Hops Farm wolf picker

Larry Fisher of Foothills Hops couldn’t discover a wolf picker for harvesting hops that match his finances, so he constructed his personal.

Simply to the south, Mosher Farms provides comparable fields of hops trellises together with a farmstand with seasonal contemporary veggies.


Persevering with south, you’ll quickly hit Hamilton, residence of Colgate College and extra small-town New York that can take you again in time. The gorgeously appointed Colgate Inn is the place to remain—the not too long ago renovated rooms are trendy, however the true promoting level is the primary ground pub with expertly crafted meals and a beer record that can ground you. I ordered a Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) that I savored like dessert.

Colgate Inn

The Colgate Inn in Hamilton.

Throughout the road, you’ll discover the taproom for Good Nature Farm Brewery & Taproom. They’re within the technique of constructing a brand new brewery and tasting room nearer to the Colgate campus, however within the meantime they’ve arrange store within the small downtown with a comfy taproom that includes a variety of their beers.


From Hamilton, push east to Baseball Metropolis, USA, and be part of the quarter million vacationers who go to this hamlet yearly. Regardless of the site visitors, Cooperstown is a wonderful city, perched on the southern finish of Otsego Lake. For the most effective dinner views, put up up on the again patio of the Otesaga Resort Resort on the Fireplace Bar or Hawkeye Bar & Grill and revel in a glass of native beer whereas the solar units.

Otsego Lake

The view over Otsego Lake from the Otesaga Resort Resort.

Cooperstown Beverage Exchange

The Cooperstown Beverage Alternate showcases native producers.

For extra native taste, courageous the crowds on Foremost Road and cease by the Cooperstown Beverage Alternate. Owned by the Cooperstown Distillery, this outpost completely focuses on native beer, wine, and spirits. The Baseball Corridor of Fame is just a few blocks away—a must-see should you’re a fan of the sport. And should you’re touring with children, a go to to the Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard is all the time enjoyable. Their water-driven apple press could be very cool to see in motion, and their exhausting cider and apple wine received’t disappoint.

Simply up the highway, you’ll discover extra proof of hops resurgence in Brew Central NY. Hollyhock Farm has simply planted a area of hops this season they’ve dubbed “Hollyhops,” and some minutes from there you’ll discover the Hager Hops farm. The Hager household are descendants of Adolphus Busch (sure, of that Busch household), and the elder Hager owns the area’s Northern Eagle beer distributor in addition to Cooperstown Brewing. A few years in the past, the youthful technology of Hagers determined to get again into farming hops on their household land and trellised and planted 11 acres. The farm is non-public property with no actions on web site, nevertheless it’s a shocking sight to behold hops rising once more on these rolling hills that had been as soon as lined with them.

Hager Hops

Beer is a multigenerational household affair for Hager Hops.

South of Cooperstown, set again from a small nation highway in a pocket of foothills, you’ll discover the now iconic Brewery Ommegang. It’s no exaggeration to say that Ommegang has performed a formative position in popularizing Belgian-style beer in the USA, and the brewery itself is modeled after a Belgian farmhouse. It’s a bucolic and stress-free place to spend the afternoon, ingesting scrumptious beers on the again patio with views of their hops trellises on the far aspect of the property throughout the grassy meadow. You received’t need to go away.

Beercation New York Main

Brewery Ommegang’s campus is nestled within the idyllic foothills south of Cooperstown.


Newcomers Woodland Hop Farm & Fermentation launched with grand goals of rising and brewing, however on account of zoning points have needed to accept simply brewing as of late. Fortunately, their barrel-aged beers (some aged in barrels from the brand new Adirondack Barrel Cooperage) are well worth the go to, and their Down N Dandy saison with dandelions is very really helpful.

Woodland Hop Farm and Fermentation

Woodland Hop Farm & Fermentation has taken root simply north of downtown Utica.

Situated in Utica’s brewing district subsequent door to their gigantic neighbors, Nail Creek Pub & Brewery has been extra “pub” than “brewery” as of late, however plans are within the works to start out brewing once more in late 2016. However, their visitor faucet traces function the widest vary of beer conceivable, from the basic Utica Membership Pilsner (they declare to promote extra of it than every other bar, anyplace) to the Hill Farmstead and Blaugies collaboration saison, La Vermontoise. The meals is superb, and the beer is even higher.


Nail Creek Pub Proprietor Chris Talgo pours a pint of Utica Membership.

Your last cease on a tour of “Brew” Central New York needs to be the largest—F.X. Matt Brewing/Saranac. This legendary brewery remained unbiased and family-owned by means of many years of brewery consolidation, and as we speak is likely one of the largest craft brewers in existence. Brewing fanatics will love the tour that takes you thru their large brewhouse—the 500 bbl kettle and big mash filter are technical marvels. However in a nod to the occasions, they’ve begun filling barrels with beer and getting old these barrels subsequent to their lagering tanks. It’s a shocking juxtaposition—1,600 bbl lager tanks with picket barrels racked six-high behind them. Over one million folks have taken the Matt Brewery tour over time, making it one of the crucial visited breweries anyplace. And stick round within the taproom afterward—their experimental beers with artistic hops profiles are fairly good and are pushing the corporate in a brand new and thrilling route.

FX Matt Brewing bottle archives

F.X. Matt Brewing was brewing IPAs lengthy earlier than any of their contemporaries—this bottle (middle) of their archives dates to 1910.

Nick Matt of FX Matt-Saranac

F.X. Matt Brewing/Saranac CEO Nick Matt pours a pint of New College IPA of their decidedly Outdated College tasting room.

Irrespective of the place you go in Central New York, you’ll discover one factor that makes it stand out—the proximity of the agriculture that helps brewing (hops, malt, apple bushes, and extra) and the brewing course of itself. That tight loop and shut interplay between the growers of the components and the makers of the tip merchandise, is what earns them the “Brew” in “Brew Central New York.”

For Extra Data

We visited Central New York on the invitation of Brew Central NY, an initiative funded partially by New York State and operated in partnership with brewing, distilling, cider making, and tourism advocates all through the area. It’s a unbelievable clearinghouse for details about breweries and alternatives within the area—study extra at

By Jamie Bogner