Beer is more and more becoming America’s go-to food product. There are American craft breweries, micro-breweries and home-breweries popping up everywhere. With all these beer choices most Americans still only drink from the big breweries, Anheuser Busch, Miller, Coors top the lists of beer sales. When people hear “Craft Beers” most people think of Sam Adams, while New Belgium and Yuengling are also in the top brewers in America. But in the top 20 selling beers (not Breweries) in 2013 the only two that some would consider ‘craft’ are Blue Moon (Coors) and Yuengling Traditional Lager (extremely over-rated in my opinion). A lot of that has to do with price.
While most of the top 20 can be found for $6 or less for six or $10ish for a twelve pack, craft beers tend to run closer to the $8-$9 a six-pack range. That the three or four dollars for each six is worth it if you are looking for something more than just a cheap buzz from your beer.
No matter if you are a beer novice just cracking the 21 y/o age limit or an experienced beer drinker here are 12 American breweries you should check out next time you’re at the grocery store, bar or a buddies house who happens to have some (because there is nothing better than Other People’s Cold Beer or OPCB).
This list is in no particular order and I will be the first person to tell you that I left some really good breweries off this list. A quick Google search will show you a multitude of local American craft breweries, look them up, and check them out. And for the brewmasters reading this, you’ve probably had most of these, but take a look and share your favorite breweries. It isn’t only great to find better beer, it is great to support smaller, American made companies, working hard to help you get a better tasting drunk.
Deschutes Brewery – Bend, OR
A great northwest brewery, Deschutes offers a full array of styles. Their Chain Breaker White IPA is one of the best IPAs I’ve ever had. Any and all of the beers from this brewery are worth a try. Their different specialty beers also are great if you are looking for something special that might just be a bit different.
Top Beer – Mirror Pond Pale Ale – ABV 5%/IBU 40
Great Divide Brewing Co. – Denver, CO
Maybe one of the best breweries out of Colorado and that is saying something. Great Divide has one of the best taprooms I’ve ever been to where you can taste their sixteen different selections. Try all the different YETI’s, from chocolate, to oatmeal, to espresso oak aged varieties they are all flavorful and interesting, but not be for everyone. Be warned, most of Great Divide’s beers will come in at the 7+ ABV range.
Top Beer – YETI Imperial Stout – ABV 9.5%/75 IBUs
Distribution – Nationwide
Tröegs Brewing Company – Hershey, PA
A small brewery serving mostly the northeast Tröegs is a small town brewery that has spread well in the Mid-Atlantic states. They spread out their beer styles from the high 4s ABV to the low double digits. I tend to lean towards the Dead Reckoning Porter, but most of their stuff is really well done.
Top Beer – Nugget Nectur – ABV 7.5%/93ish IBUs
Distribution – PA, DE, MA, MD, NJ, NY, OH, and VA.
A small almost local brewery, 3 Floyds might not be all over the country, but they are determined to keep everyone on their toes with their “Not Normal” ales and lagers. They will pretty much try anything, and while the styles might not be for everyone the brew is never bad.
Top Beer – Jinx Proof – ABV 5.1%/35 IBUs
Distribution – IL, IN, KY, OH and WI Only
One of the most recognized breweries in America, Founders is a family run brewery that turns out some of the best and unique tasting beers out there. The Nitro Pale Ale has a sweet citrus taste that is delicious every time, but you won’t find it in the store. The Nitro is one of three Founders beers you’ll only find on tap.
Top Beer – All Day IPA – ABV 4.7%/IBUs 42
Abita Brewing is a brewery I was introduced to when I moved south, the entire brew selection is drinkable and with a wide variety of styles you can find something right in your wheel house. Turbodog and Andygator are tops of my list, but don’t pass on the Strawberry seasonal that is remarkably refreshing.
Top Beer – Purple Haze – ABV 4.2%/13 IBUs
Distribution – Nationwide
Unless you’ve been to the brewery or live in Dallas-Fort Worth you probably haven’t community. But Community is a great local up and coming brewery. Their summer seasonal Texas Pils is a fantastic medium ABV beer. They don’t have a wide selection, but the beer is worth a six-pack to try it out.
Top Beer – Public Ale – ABV 5.5%/38 IBV
Distribution – Dallas & Houston
It’s hard to stand out in the tough beer scene in the Pacific Northwest, but Sound Brewery is able to do just that. With high ABV Belgian and American style beers, Sound is making a lot of noise (see what I did there?) on the beer scene. Seattle should certainly be on your list of beer cities to visit. When you do, head across the Pugent sound and check out Sound Brewery.
Top Beer – Tripel Entendre Belgian Style Tripel – ABV 9.9%/30 IBU
Distribution – Washington State
Odell Brewing Co. – Fort Collins, Colorado
Another Colorado brewery (we could have done a list of 12 Colorado breweries you have to try, but for another day.) Odell makes some really good beers but their Cellar Series is fantastic, but a little hard to find if you aren’t in Colorado. If you spot them grab it. It’s always a unique experience. My favorite is the peach puree infused Tree Shaker.
Top Beer – 90 Shilling – 5.3 ABV%/27 IBUs
A great little brewery in the beautiful Sierra Nevada hills, if you can go to their tasting room overlooking Sonoma Lake, it’s worth it just for that. But don’t be fooled. The beers are amazing. Try any and all from Russian River and you won’t be disappointed.
Top Beer – Pliny The Elder – ABV 8.0%/High IBU (number not given)
Karbach Brewing Company – Houston, TX
One of those newer breweries that is turning to the can only six packs. Don’t be turned off by the cans and the myth that cans don’t hold flavor. Their Hopadillo packs a punch on draft or out of the can. Karbach also does bottle some specialty seasonal beers.
Top Beer – Hopadillo IPA – ABV 6.6%/65 IBUs
[Edit: during some edits I accidently deleted SingleCut's section on this list. Here it is!] I’ll be honest, I’ve only had one beer from SingleCut and it was absolutely delicious. I had their Billy 18 Watt IPA while in New York at a little place called 3 Monkeys. I was in New York for 5 days I had 16 beers, 4 of them were the Billy 18 Watt IPA. SingleCut makes the list for having at least one great beer. If any of their others are close to the 18 Watt, I’m in on them 100%
Top Beer – Billy Full Stack IIPA – ABV 8.6%/119 IBUs
Distribution – New York only
So there are some suggestions for you to try some new beers. I know I missed many, maybe your favorite. Leave your favorite in the comments and I’ll give them a try. Thanks and Prost!