Brewery Spotlight

Most Popular Craft Breweries and Their Beers

Americans and people across the globe can never seem to get enough of the hunt for the best beers in the world. Fans will travel great distances to sample the beers they’ve heard of only in lore. Some slip by in casual conversation, and others are rung on repeat in the chatter of must-visit destinations. High-grade brewery options continue to pile up as the industry shows no signs of slowing down in the development of new breweries, and consumers show no signs of demanding less. 

With an array of options, trying to choose a brewery to visit and a beer to drink can be a more significant challenge than we bargain for. When we are looking for the best of the best, we want to know that others feel the same way too. This is a list of breweries in the United States that have commanded the most consistent praise. Starting or extending a journey through the world of microbrewing with any of these destinations would be a turn worth taking. 

Side note: Some of the country’s most well-renown breweries and beers have already been mentioned in the Massachusetts Brewery Tour Series. To bring attention to the greater variety of choices, they have been left off this list. Be sure to read all parts of the Massachusetts tour in our Brewery Spotlight

New Glarus Brewing Company

Image by jgagnon from Flickr

Dan and Deborah Carey are a formidable and well-respected team in the business of brewing. Dan gained a depth of knowledge in malting and brewing through his education in California and an apprenticeship in Germany. He gained Master Brewer status early in the ’90s and has progressed to prove his expertise with resounding certainty. 

Where Dan brews, Deborah handles the business. She was responsible for raising the start-up money for New Glarus Brewing. As founder and acting President of New Glarus, Deborah’s entrepreneurial skills have proved instrumental. The brewery that would likely not exist without her is thriving because of the work she does and the attention their beers justly deserve. Their Moon Man No Coast IPA, Serendipity Fruit Sour Ale, and Fat Squirrel English Brown Ale are a few of the products in high demand. 

Three Floyd’s Brewing Company

Three Floyd’s is a family BrewPub and Distillery in Munster, Indiana. Their devotion to being “Not Normal” has paid off, as the high quality of their anything but standard beverages have earned Three Floyd’s continuous praise and raving fans. While the distillery is a more recent addition, Nick, Simon, and their father Mike Floyd founded the brewery back in 1996. Now, with a quarter-century of brewing expertise, they have asserted themselves as some of the best in the business.

Repeatedly named as the best brewery in the state of Indiana, Three Floyd’s has almost too many upper echelon beers to choose which ones to mention. Their Alpha King, Dreadnaught, and Dark Lord consistently gain high praise, and their barrel-aged beers have earned more and more respect over the years. 

Toppling Goliath Brewing Company

While the east and west coast gain a lot of clout for their brewing prowess, the inland states have plenty of respect of their own. Toppling Goliath Brewing Company of Iowa bears a name that reflects its status climbing over many establishments of renowned brewing states like California. Founded by Clark and Barbara Lewey, this couple rotates more than 30 beers throughout the year. 

There is plenty of variety on their line of beers, including Dorothy’s New World Lager, the King Sue Double IPA, and the Mornin’ Latte Imperial Coffee Milk Stout. Those beers and more claim plenty of respect, but it was their limited release Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout that won them an award as Best Beer in the World from RateBeer in 2015. Their popularity is having a considerable impact on Decorah, Iowa, and has earned the respect of both Goliaths and regular-sized citizens around the world. 

AleSmith Brewing Company

Home to more craft breweries than any other state in the country, it is a safe bet to go to California if you want to find some quality beer. Still, some of those breweries stand out a little more than others. If you can make a name for yourself as a select choice in the state of a thousand breweries, you can make a name for yourself across the country. Alesmith Brewing Company has managed just that.

Now distributing their beer across the country, they’ve especially earned a name for themselves through their Horny Devil. The Horny Devil is a Belgian-style Golden Ale created back in 1998. Since then, Horny Devil has been flattered with awards, and AleSmith has gained a firm status from it. Horny Devil may have helped build a legacy, but do not make the mistake of believing AleSmith is a one beer house. Plenty more of their brews, especially their barrel-aged beers and specialty releases, have earned them equal acclaim.

Cigar City Brewing Company

After building its reputation in the south, it wasn’t long before this Tampa, Florida based brewery was gaining respect around the country. Since its foundation in 2007, Cigar City has earned awards and a smattering of medals at both state and national competitions. Their success has been well recognized by distributors that now have their beers in 30 states and reaching international locations. 

Cigar City’s most sought after beers include the Jai Alai IPA, Maduro Brown Ale, the Hunahpu Imperial Stout. For a unique twist, Cigar City provides a list of recipes on its website that include their beers as ingredients. The idea has undoubtedly been useful for the many who can’t get enough of drinking their beers, so they will now be able to chew them.

Russian River Brewing Company

Image by Tim Cigelski from Flickr

More than 20 years since its founding in Guerneville, California, Russian River Brewing Company has gained and maintained a strong reputation across the country and the world. One of the original brews, Pliny The Elder, is still a name that is renowned in brew circles and even echoes outside of them. This beer was one of the original Double Indian Pale Ales to enter the commercial market. It has paved the way for what has become an industry replete with IPAs, Double IPAs, and styles that have grown from it. 

Across the years, Russian River Brewing Company has earned a spoiling of praise for their Belgian Inspired and Barrel-Aged beers. If you don’t live in California, you may have some trouble acquiring a taste of Russian River without some travel. Outside of their home state, they currently only have distributors in Oregon, Colorado and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. If you can get a read on a place where you can hunt their beers down, it will be worth your travels.

Hill Farmstead Brewing

The Hill family has a history in North Greensboro, Vermont that goes back to the town’s founding. Although Hill Farmstead has only officially been in business since 2010, the tradition of beer in the family goes back to a tavern in the area more than 200 years ago. Founder, owner, and brewer Shaun E. Hill cut his teeth at the brewing craft through high school, college, and overseas in Denmark. 

Developing during the craft brewing boom of New England, Hill Farmstead Brewing has earned itself a stellar reputation for creating some of the finest beers on the planet. Brewing hundreds and hundreds of different beers throughout their existence, Hill and the crew have maintained diligence to pouring excellence in every glass. Among their most popular beers are: a Saison, Anna; a Porter, Everett; and a Pale Ale, Edward. These beers and many others have names paying homage to members of the family of this farm’s illustrious history. 

Choosing Where To Begin

Let’s be blunt about this: you can’t go wrong. The biggest mistake would be in taking an excess of time to wrestle over the possibilities of what you could visit. The breweries in this list provide a decent spread over the country, but you still may not be within a manageable distance to take a quick trip to any of them. The most notable thing about these breweries is that they’ve gained their recognition over years of work in a packed industry. This means that there is no shortage of high-class options available whether you can check these breweries off your list or not. 

With any real struggle to decide on a destination, make the job easier for yourself by looking nearby. While the featured breweries here have asserted themselves as establishments worth acclaim, there is no shortage of breweries making beer worth talking about. Some of those breweries are still quite young and are yet to gain a great deal of notoriety. 

With the vast sprawl of brewing projects that have been opened in the United States over the last ten years, it would be a challenge to find a place that you could go without having a brewery within a reasonable distance. The hunt for the up and coming brewery that will turn heads down the road may be a more worthy task in your quest for the top breweries. After all, when it does gain the recognition it deserves in your community, around the country, and maybe even the world, it wouldn’t hurt to be able to say that you were one of the original fans. 

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