Mount Rushmore-Microbrew Edition

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107 Responses

  1. Avatar Nevermoor says:

    Dogfish and Bell’s are strong choices.

    I would add Allagash and Firestone Walker.

    Russian River is fair just because of Pliny (which really is all that), but I’m not sure how fair it is to credit them for an insanely popular insanely underproduced product.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott says:

      I live about 10 minutes south of the Firestone Walker brewery–and I’m glad I do, because my least favorite beers of theirs are the widely available Pale Ale series (Not a huge fan of bitter hops). But I love the Wooky Jack and the Porter, and I can find them both pretty easily in these parts.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        If I had that type of access, I’d be tempted do what one of my local bottle shops does and stock on on the Proprietor’s Vintage beers as they come out and then resell them once the market dried up a few months later. An immediate 50% return on your money until the government catches you selling beer without a license.

        I walked into the shop over the summer and he had a fridge with several bottles of Parabola at $35 each. I asked him how he managed to do that and he just grinned and said that he sells them about 3 months out of phase for the quick appreciation. Smart guy.Report

  2. Avatar Patrick says:

    Anchor Steam (San Francisco, CA)
    * Steam, the best all-around beer in America

    Stone Brewing Company (San Diego, CA)
    * Ruination is one of the best IPAs out there

    The Lost Abbey (San Marcos, CA)
    * If you like Belgians, you’ll love this place

    Santa Fe Brewing Company (Santa Fe, NM)
    * An actually original Pilsner, which is pretty rareReport

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      I’m not an expert on microbrews so it is hard for me to make a definitive list, but in addition to Dogfish Head, I think Stone would have to be on there.

      For me, Dogfish Head is on there as much for influence over the industry as for the quality of their brews. Their 60- and 90-Minute IPAs are phenomenal (I’ve had the 120 which ultimately proved more gimmicky than anything). Some of their other beers are top notch as well. But some are flat out bad and show a tendency to favor style-over-substance (such as their ‘Ancient Brews’ series). That said, they are a driving force in the industry and I don’t think we’d see as much creativity elsewhere were they not willing to push the envelope.

      I haven’t had Stone’s full portfolio, but everything I’ve had is good.

      I don’t know if I’d include them in my top four in part because they are very regionally limited, but Yards out of Philly is fantastic.Report

    • Patrick,

      I like Anchor Steam, too.Report

    • Avatar Will H. says:

      Anchor gets good marks.
      I like their steam beer, and they make what is probably the best of domestic porters.
      The Christmas ale is always over-spiced (it’s something of a joke among the brewing crowd), and I haven’t had the Liberty ale. I heard it was an IPA, and thought it best that I stay away from it.

      Before Jim Koch, there was Fritz Maytag.Report

  3. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    1. Two Brothers, Warrenville, IL. They make what is easily my favorite beer, Domaine Dupage.
    2. Schmoz, Grand Rapids, MI. Their Hopknocker, an Imperial IPA, has a kick that’ll sneak up on you if you’re (read I’m) not careful. Brewed somehow without the disgusting bitterness of every other IPA.
    3. Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX. Producer of the famous Shiner Bock. And after reading a bit, I discovered that this is actually the 10th largest brewer in the country. I’m leaving it on the list anyway. The first 2 are so small that my average is still micro. Plus, it’s a damn good beer.
    4. Great Lakes Brewing Co., Cleveland, OH. Try their Highlander Scottish ale. You can thank me later.

    I really wanted to add Schlitz to the list, even though it’s brewed by Pabst. Since it’s been reintroduced with the 1960s formula you can’t buy a better American lager. I invite skeptics to give it a try.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      I must admit to skepticism about Schlitz, but since you correctly identify Spoetzl as outstanding (they retain actual Bavarian flavor in their beer IMO, and I haven’t had a bad one from them yet – I even liked their White Wing, and thought I wouldn’t) and are otherwise a reliable fellow, I will try to keep an open mind.

      They weren’t always so large, obvs:

      “In the 1970s and 1980s the brewery’s Shiner Beer and Shiner Bock had less than 1 percent of the Texas market. In 1983 Spoetzl produced 60,000 barrels of beer; in 1990 only 36,000. Sales improved after Carlos Alvarez of San Antonio acquired the brewery in 1989: Production grew to 100,000 barrels in 1994, and over the next ten years, production nearly tripled. The company now has 85 employees.

      As of 2013, it was the fourth-largest craft brewery and tenth-largest overall brewery in the United States.”Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      GLBC: Eh. Try their Edmund Fitzgerald. Now that’s a writer’s beer.Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        That is one that has the nasty burned taste to it that is one of my main criticisms of domestic porters.
        Burning River is a good one.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      I had to go to Cleveland for work the week before Yom Kippur and had the pleasure of trying Great Lakes for the first time. They do make some very nice beers. I particularly enjoyed their Oktoberfeist beer.

      Mill City Tavern in Minneapolis is also a good brewery.Report

    • Avatar Will H. says:

      Domaine Dupage is a very good beer, comparable to Schlafly’s biere de garde, but better, and less expensive.Report

  4. I’m no expert, but here’s my list of favorite beers (I realize these are probably more “commercial” than microbrews, but the only rule is that it have a “reasonable” level of distribution, and I get to define “reasonable,” so here goes):

    1. Dundee Honey Brown
    2. I really like one of the Two Brothers brand, but I forget its name and when I’ve tried the other ones I haven’t liked them. So, that mystery Two Brothers brand is #2.
    3. Tabernash
    4. I like the Wynkoop brewery selections in Denver.Report

  5. Avatar Damon says:

    Not much of a beer drinker, but I will say that homebrew can be good. My dad made some decent beers, and frankly, some real dren too, but it was kinda fun.

    I like IPAs. A nice hoppy one. Dogfish has a good one. Sierra Nevada as well. But beer is more a summer thing for me, if at all.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Generally I’m not one for the IPA. Brewers seem to compete with one another to see how bitter they can make them, and the result of that arms race is not appealing to my palate. But if I must drink an IPA, let it be Pliny the Elder, the best of that variety I’ve had.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        The IPA isn’t one of my favorite styles. I’m more of a fan of lagers, pilsners, lambics, saisons, and other beers in the Belgium and German styles.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Then you and I can hoist together, when I am in New York next, @leeesq , for we are of a kind in preference. (Sadly, no business justification for such a trip is on the horizon, but I’ll keep you posted if something comes up).Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        @burt-likko , If you ever find yourself driving up the 101 through San Luis Obispo, stop at Creekside Brewing and order their Raptor IPA.

        I’m not an IPA fan, because I don’t like the bitterness of hops–But my brother (who’s the brewer at Creekside) convinced me to try this beer and it’s become one of my favorites. It’s all dry hopped–so the hops provides a lot of citrus and floral notes, but very little in the way of bitterness. Makes for a great, refreshing ale.Report

      • Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

        Yup. See above, #2.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I generally don’t like IPAs either except for a select few. I think they are popular among drinkers because they hit the general category of not too heavy but not too light. I love Porters and Stouts but those are hard to drink in the summertime and are colder-weather beers.

        I also read once that younger brewers like to make IPAs because the hoppiness hides any mistakes made usually. They are fairly easy to make as beers go. Otherwise I don’t know why they became popular in a never ending moment but I am seeing more Saisons and Farmhouse Ales now.

        Porters and Stouts seem to have a specific audience of dedicated but smaller in number drinkers.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I can drink a doppelbock anytime of year.
        Of course, I can also drink a sunny Concord wine
        (No, not Manischevitz. I drink world-class, award winning concords).Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        I’ve had the Raptor, it’s very good.

        I’m a beer ecumenicalist.Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        The Bubblejack from Rush River is one of the very few IPA’s I actually like (McEwan’s being the other).
        The difference is in the timing of the hop additions.Report

  6. Avatar Glyph says:

    Also, if anyone ever sees a bottle of Dogfish Head’s special edition “Beer Thousand”, grab it for me. Right now they are only showing it as draft on their site, but I know I saw a bottle/label design at one point, and it was supposed to come out this fall.Report

  7. Avatar James Hanley says:

    In no particular order,

    Anchor Brewing, San Francisco.

    McMenamins, Oregon. (They have multiple restaurants around the state, which sounds like reasonable distribution to me.)

    Leinenkugels, Wisconsin.

    Great Lakes, Ohio.Report

  8. Avatar Kim says:

    Eh. Dogfish may not be huge, but I have to wonder how crafty it is anymore…
    North Coast Brewing Company, out of Cali — Loving their Old Rasputin this season.
    Troeg’s out of Harrisburg — their doppelbock is better than the German’s (at least the one with the little plastic goat).

    Whelp, those are the two beers I have in my house right now. Maybe I’ll post more later.Report

  9. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Dogfish head should be excluded because of inconsitent quality. Some of their beers, I especially like their take on a Berliner Weisse beer, are spot on but their more experimental recipes can be very bad like the ones where they try to use grapes in some way like Midas Touch. Grapes and beer don’t mix well.

    My choices for best microbreweries are:

    1. Jimmy Carter, not a brewer but he is the President we have to thank for the current renaissance of beer. His administration deregulated the alcohol industry to not only allow higher alcohol content in beers but allow homebrewers to get the ingredients necessary to make beer.

    2. Spoetzel, TX. It was founded by a German immigrant before Prohibition, survived through Prohibitin by making ice, and than reverted back to a brewery quickly after Prohibition ended. Until the 1980s, they were pretty much a Texas-based microbrewery that kept good beer alive during the dark ages of beer.

    3. Brooklyn Breweries, one of the first American brewers to establish that there is a market for high quality beer in the United States. They might be big now but they are true pioneers.

    4. Kona Breweries, Hawaii. Their Island Lager, Golden Ale, and Castaway IPA are great summer beers. I’m a big lager fan and this is one of the best lagers I’ve tasted.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      “they were pretty much a Texas-based microbrewery that kept good beer alive during the dark ages of beer.”

      When I first had it I was passing through Texas on a long road trip, and I got it because it was local and I hadn’t seen it before (this was before they really started penetrating a lot of other markets) and it was hella cheap at the bar (I think only a buck or two). I learned about its history shortly after (Germans in Texas – who knew? But there are quite a few of them).

      The locals didn’t even seem to regard it that highly at the time (though I did see many of them drinking it, presumably primarily for cost); maybe just because it was so familiar to them, or because it was cheap it couldn’t be good?

      I wanted to shake people, “You know what you have here? A GOOD American beer! For cheap!”

      I was pretty happy when it started being available locally (though not as happy with the increased price, though it’s still fair enough for what you get IMO).Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        The truth is that even though there are more and more micro and craftbreweries, it is still a very small (but growing) share of the beer market overall. Lots of people still like Bud, Miller, Coors above all else for reasons unknown.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Shiner is on tap at the Austin Grill chain and Hill Country in NYC has a variety of their offerings in regular rotation.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      Kona, imo, has also gone downhill with erratic consistency when they have expanded for nationwide capacity and became partners with Redhook and WidmerReport

  10. Avatar j r says:

    Not that I am a particularly big fan of it, but you cannot tell the story of craft brewing without including Sam Adams.Report

  11. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    Part of me wants to cry foul. My favorite micro-brewery is here in town and doesn’t distribute except by keg, and then only in about a three-county area. Beer is all they serve in their 150-seat tasting room, but they have arranged with several nearby restaurants to deliver food.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      That’s the thing with microbreweries – if it’s distributed widely enough, its claim to be “micro” becomes shaky. As nice as Anchor Steam is, I don’t know I’d call it “micro” – a craft beer, sure, but a micro?Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        I think we can tolerate a degree of inexactidue in the distinction between a “craft” beer and a “micro” beer. If it isn’t barley pop made by Bud, Miller, or Coors or some close derivative thereof, I think we can at least consider it here. Also we seem to be limiting ourselves to beers made in the United States (although there are some nice brews coming out of Canada and Mexico, after you again sift out the barley pop).Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        I’m going to both concur with Burt. A micro just means small. The big breweries still control 90% of the American beer market according to the last statistics I’ve read on the subject. They are really humongous industrial organizations with hundreds or thousands of employees and complex organizations. Even the biggest of the craft breweries are organized on a much more human and simple scale than the smallest of the big league brewers.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        Heh, “Barley”.

        You’re giving them too much credit, Burt.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        The thing is, most of the micros that came of age in the 90s (and have survived) are now partnered with the legacy brewers in order to have enough production capacity to meet demand. They’re still better than Bud, but are often made by pretty much the same people. And if not, have grown, like Sam Adam’s parent company, to be pretty big shots themselves. (because Bud is now Le Bud, the Boston Beer company is apparently the largest beer company HQ’d in the US)Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        Concurring with Burt and Lee. Various states define microbreweries as being allowed to produce only up to about 20,000 barrels per a year.


        There are a lot of controversies about that in the beer market and whether a brew should be considered a microbrew once AB or the bigger conglomerates purchases it. There are also a lot of “fake” microbrews which are created by the big guys to enter the market like Shocktop and Bluemoon.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        If it isn’t barley pop made by Bud, Miller, or Coors or some close derivative thereof, I think we can at least consider it here.

        In that case… The Irish Red at the Arvada Beer Company in Arvada, CO. Quinn’s Golden Ale at the Southern Sun in Boulder, CO. Seasonal beers at either place are always worth trying. The Front Range has both: (a) a very large number of tiny craft brewers and (b) the largest single brewery in the world, the Coors plant in Golden.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Months ago, Slate had an interesting article that argued if the big breweries really wanted to compete with the craft breweries, they should focus on mass producing the styles of beer that are difficult for craft breweries because of specialized equipment needs. Styles like saisons or New Zealand Pale Ale. Like you pointed out above, IPAs are popular because they are easy to make.

        Craft beers are still a very small part of the market share. Most beers drunken are mass market things like Bud, Corona, or Coors. I’ve even overheard Blue Moon refurred to as a good beer. Clearly unseasoned drunks. They need a proper education.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I read that article. I don’t think it will happen. I think there is a bit of a culture war with microbrews. I’ve met a few old-school guys who refer to microbrews as “frou frou beers” and think real beer is Bud, Miller, Coors. Never mind that the frou frou beers have more of a punch.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        The largest factors in the beer business in the US are the state by state regulatory regimes that most often entrench incumbents that are positioned in the middle between brewers and retailers. You can make the best beer in the world (and you can usually, but not always, sell it out of your own shop if people walk up to it), but if you’re not willing to play ball with the existing distributors (like John McCain’s wife’s family), there’s no way you can get your bottles on ordinary store shelves.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @saul-degraw, there is a bit of that but I’m not sure how much. Its just that more people drink to drink and lower their inhibitions rather than pay any particular attention to the taste of alcohol. If your drinking without a particular care to quality than the big breweries are certainly cheaper than microbreweries and just as good.

        @kolohe, an outgrowth of the repeal of prohibition. Giving states a lot of leeway in regulating alcohol distribution and sales was one of the necessary trades that made repeal of prohibition possible. Very few people wanted to completely go back to the drinking culture that existed before the end of prohibition, where breweries often owned saloons and distributed directly to customers. Creating a middle man between the brewer/distiller/vinter and the retail store, bar, or restaurant was seen as necessary.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Hey! Bud uses the finest rice! It says so right on the label!Report

  12. 1. Southern Tier Brewery from just outside of Binghamton, NY. It’s available at any Wegman’s, which means that it’s available in most of the northeast, so I think it qualifies. In any event, I’ve yet to have one of their beers that I didn’t find absolutely wonderful. Their seasonal Pumking is probably my favorite pumpkin ale, and their other seasonal Warlock may be my favorite beer ever. And that says nothing about their year-round brews, which I buy pretty regularly.

    2. I’m going to get some heat for this I think, but…Saranac, and not only because of my bias in favor of all things Upstate NY. They’ve got some beers that are pretty meh, but they’ve got to be about the oldest craft brewery in the country, and I love the vast majority of their beers. Their Trail Mix had to have been one of the first variety packs in the business. What I love about their stuff is that they’ve always tried to keep things in balance – their beers had taste and hops even in the macrobrew Bad Old Days, but they never jumped on the subsequent fad in which it seems that the only thing some breweries think is needed to make good beer is to just add more hops. Also, their Black Forest is probably the closest thing I have to a lifelong friend as far as beers go – I loved it in college, and have only gotten to appreciate it more as the years have gone by.

    3. Great Lakes Brewing Co. For all the reasons others have mentioned above. The Edmund Fitzgerald is probably my favorite porter, and porter is my favorite style of beer, so……

    4. I’ll add my voice to the Anchor chorus, even though I don’t drink it nearly enough. Their stuff is indeed awesome, and it would be downright criminal if I didn’t have a West Coast brewery on this list.Report

  13. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    I shall ignore your rules.

    Mac & Jacks – Redmond, WA (not sold in stores, kegs only except at the brewery)
    The African Amber is exceptional; unfiltered, smooth, the perfect thing to end a nice warm day with

    Big Sky Brewing – Missoula, Mt
    Moose Drool is a favorite

    McMenamins – Washington & Oregon

    Leinenkugels – Chippewa Falls, WI
    Leinies Red was one of the first microbrews I learned to enjoy.Report

    • Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

      When I was in college in the Reagan years we bought cases of Leinenkugel in returnable bottles because, why else given the circumstances, it was cheap. The fact that it was good was a bonus. We also drank a lot of Huber bock for the same reason, and it was even better. Regular Huber was disgusting, which we always found strange. Huber also was the brewer for the Berghoff restaurant in Chicago, and the Berghoff dark was great. Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        I mark the onset of spring with the appearance of Leinenkugel’s Canoe Paddler in the stores and summer with the Summer Shandy. SO. FRIGGIN’. GOOD.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        It is a shame that there are very few Leinies carried in the stores out here. Same with Sprecher Root Beer. There are a few specialty suppliers who have such things, but not the Safeways or QFCs.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


        New Albanian Brewing Company here used to carry Sprecher Root Beer on tap. They recently switched to A&W. It was a sad day.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        St. Arnold’s (a Houston brewery) does an excellent root beer. I’m also quite fond of their beers in general.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        That’s just wrong.Report

    • Avatar Patrick says:

      If you’re in the MT area you need to go to Tamarack, in Lakeside (they’re finishing one up in Missoula, too).

      They routinely have a raft of 10-15 beers of every type under the sun, and every time we go there I get a sampler of ’em all if I’m not driving, and they routinely put up 8-12 in the 4-5 range on a scale of 5 and even the two “bad” ones on their list are high threes.Report

  14. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Anchor Steam, San Francisco, California — my favorite beer, bar none. Precisely the right blend of bitter, sweet, and hearty. Beer, perfected.

    Kona Pipeline Porter, Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i — rich, creamy, sweet, and intimidatingly black; it’s like Guiness, only, dare I say it, better.

    Sierra Nevada Strawberry Blonde, Chico, California — light, sweet without being too sweet, fruity without losing the essential nature of beeriness, which is the fullness of barley malt.

    Lakefront’s Riverwest Stein, Milwaukee, Wisconsin — malt front and center, great hop nose, the perfect head.

    Honorable mentions to the Edmund Fitzgerald, Lost and Found Abbey Ale, and Pliny the Elder for excellence in the craft, and to the Samuel Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts for serving as the motive engine to the American craft beer movement.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Kona Brewery is frustrating because a lot of their beers are only available in Hawaii for some reason and they make some really good beers.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        “Some reason” almost certainly being the high logistical cost of “exporting” their beer to the mainland where Haoles like us can get it.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        They have branch breweries on the mainland. The one in the North East is in Vermont. The main brewery doesn’t allow the branch ones to make the Hawaii only beers.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        @leeesq , The model of big beers everywhere, specialty beers local-only is pretty common for the macro-microbreweries. Admittedly, it’s a little bit more frustrating when there’s a Pacific Ocean in the way.

        Clearly, you should just take a trip to Hawaii. That solves all problems!Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Costco carries it, at least out here in Seattle they do.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

      On second thought, I have to upgrade Anchor Steam. You’re right. It’s easy to search for beers with hints of unicorn blood flavor or beer that was poured over moon rocks and forget that one of the best is in your backyard. Nothing else tastes quite like Anchor Steam, it has great full flavor and a wonderful finish, and as you said, it’s a lesson in perfect balance. It’s easy to forget about it just because it’s everywhere around here and I’ve been drinking it for so long.Report

  15. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    Inspired by our bold Prime Minister’s recent rah-rahing over the War of 1812 and whatnot, I’m going into a fit of annoying and unseemly Canadian nationalism, and proposing a Canadian Microbrew Monument in Windsor Ontario, right next to the Ambassador Bridge.

    Mostly though it’s because what with small breweries being small and all, we don’t get much in the way of US micros up here.

    1. Unibroue, Chambly QC – absolutely must be on the list, probably has to be the most prominent on the monument. Lovely Belgian style strong ales. Don De Dieu is my favourite, but they’re all good.

    2. Tree Brewing, Kelowna BC

    3. Great Western Brewing, Saskatoon SK – partly there because they make quite nice beers, partly because of their history – Molson shut down their Saskatoon brewery, so 16 of the workers formed a co-op and bought them out. A worker’s co-op brewery, how cool is that?

    4. Alley Kat, Edmonton ABReport

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      The latest Canadian brew I’ve had was a Fin du Monde pale, and it gave me a raging headache. But I’ve enjoyed Alley Kat and shall keep my eye out for Tree Brewing; given that it’s from BC, I’d expect that Southern California would be within their not-that-difficult distribution range. And the strong Belgian-style from Quebec sounds mighty tasty.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Maribou has explained to me that Fin du Monde is a favorite (or “favourite”) amongst hobos (or “hobeaux”).

        9% ABV, baby.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        I have found that when I’ve really managed to make a true-to-style Belgian strong ale, I get a hint of oncoming headache – I like the taste, a pint with dinner is great, maybe another pint after dessert, but it would probably be devastating to treat as a session beer. Doesn’t seem to bother my wife though.

        Unibroue’s beers have a bit of that for me, too – I can happily drink a 750 mL bottle, or split two between two of us, but I have to stop there.

        I guess some of us are sensitive to some of the esters or phenols that make up the flavour profile. I like the taste so much though, I’m not gonna stop…Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Oh, and – Fin Du Monde is one of Unibroue’s Belgian style strong beers. I like that one too. Raftsman is another nice one of theirs, which you might find less headachey – it’s only 5.5%, made with peat smoked malt.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I generally drink… maybe half a beer at a time. The idea of a session of drinking makes me feel… sick, just thinking about it.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        I would like to note that
        1) The last time I drank Fin du Monde it seemed to have changed from the other 9000 times I drank it. Wonder if there’s some reformulation going on? But it also had been in my fridge for like a year.

        2) I didn’t say what @jaybird said I said AT ALL. I said it was the preferred beer of college students because for the ABV, it was a damn cheap drink. (That’s when I first started drinking it, Montreal in the late 90s.) Sometimes I think he deliberately misquotes stuff I tell him, just to comment-troll me when he feels like I haven’t been around here enough :D.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Pish. you should see how my husband trolls me!Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        @maribou I imagine it would change on its own more than a pasteurized beer would – the lees at the bottom of the bottle are live yeast, so they’re gradually metabolizing some substances, giving off others.

        I was thinking, they even have high class hobos on Montreal – around here the popular thing seems to be forties of strong beers with names like Battle Axe, Colt 45, Crossbow, and whatnot.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        @jaybird +1 for “favourite beer of hobeaux.”Report

  16. Avatar Boegiboe says:

    Dogfish Head is definitely where I would have started, too. I’ll add Abita, in Louisiana. It’s the 15th largest “craft brewery”, which I think allows it to still barely qualify.

    The Clipper City Brewery in Baltimore distributes its Heavy Seas and other beers only on the East Coast, but its tendency toward rich, homebrew-y flavors make it definitely worth mentioning. Plus the founding brewers are really nice guys who support local brew clubs by providing free beer at several events per year.Report

  17. Avatar Chris says:

    I mostly drink Fireman’s 4 at home, so I’ll just say that.Report

  18. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I don’t drink a ton of microbrews but I have a few favorites:

    Bluegrass Brewing Company – Dark Star Porter

    Bar Harbor Brewing Company – True Blue

    New Albanian Brewing Company – Hoptimus (they also have awesome art for their beers)

    3 Floyds – Rabbid RabbitReport

  19. Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

    Russian River- Pliny & Blind Pig are some of the best IPA styles you’ll get. Damnation is magic.
    North Coast- Excellent all around with stand outs like Le Merle, Brother Thelonious, and Old Stock.
    Firestone Walker- Very good all around with standouts in the Properietor’s Reserve and Proprietor’s Vintage series, Sucaba, Parabola, Opal, Wookey Jack. After a year of aging, we just opened our second-to-last bottle of XVII and it was magic.
    Dogfish Head: 90, 60 Minute IPA are excellent. Experimental stuff can be great or OK. I kind of liked Sixty-One. Always worth trying.
    Allagash: Lots of cool stuff with an all-around high level of quality. Curieux and Odyssey are fantastic specialty beers.

    Others that came close:
    Unibroue: Skipped because I tried to stick to the US. La Fin Du Monde is tremendously good and available all over the place. In fact, for any reasonable function of quality/price/distribution, I’d probably vote it the best beer out there. Nob Hill here in CA often sells a 750ml bottle for less than $10.
    Green Flash: Interesting blending of Beligan and American style brewing. Le Freak is of particular note.
    Ommegang: Hennepin, Three Philosophers.
    Goose Island: Sofie and Matilda are both excellent and now widely available with its connection to Anheuser-Busch. Other beers are hit and miss, IMO.
    Anchor: I’m an SF Bay native. Really good, consistently high level of quality in everything they make with a characteristic flavor that’s easy to recognize. Even their saison had a little Anchor flare, which sounds odd but made for a unique and excellent beer.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Did Goose Island’s quality actually drop after their acquisition, or was that my imagination/placebo effect?


      …sorry. I was having 90’s flashbacks again.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        Not that I noticed, but I can’t say that I’ve explored their full menu as well as I have with the breweries a little closer to home. Sofie is still on my short list of really top flight beers to serve with a summer meal.

        My understanding from educated brewers is that their recipes and yeast cultures are touchy things to scale up, but whether you like Bud or not, they employ a lot of people with serious technical brewing chops who know how to make a consistent product in big volume, so it seems like they’re in good hands.

        I think that the big brewing companies have the knowhow to make really great craft beer at scale, but it’s not easy for them to build the goodwill they’d need to enter the market, so it makes more sense to buy into capable craft breweries with good reputation and work to scale them up. I’m very pleased to see Goose Island getting regular distribution as far out here as the West Coast. But we mostly get the Vintage Series out here. I don’t see as many of the regular or seasonals, and when I do, they’re fine but I don’t notice them as standouts. But they brew a lot of stuff. I’d like to see more variety out here. They’re definitely on my list of “buy a bottle if you haven’t tried it yet” breweries.Report

    • Avatar Patrick says:

      Allagash White is pretty awesome.Report

  20. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I would say that Sam Adams and Dogfish Head have to be on the mountain for their influence on the industry (which everyone should know by now I value highly). I’m not sure where I’d go from there. It would simply be a personal preference with little ability to argue any sort of objective superiority. Which won’t stop me from doing it anyway! Sierra Nevada because I thoroughly enjoy it and Brooklyn because of how much fun I have at their happy hour.Report

  21. Avatar scott the mediocre says:

    I would like to join in the love for Dogfish (the 90 min IPA) and Stone (almost everything), and I bite my thumb at you hop-haters.

    Avery Brewing (Boulder, CO) has intermittent availability at least as far away as So Cal – their Maharaja (Imperial IPA) is in the same league as Pliny the Elder for those (e.g, any person of wealth and taste) who like such things (n.b not just my opionion 🙂 people who like Pliny will very likely like Maharaja).

    Ballast Point Brewing is in San Diego – I don’t know how far their distribution goes (at least all over greater LA). Many people like their Sculpin, which is a mainstream IPA – I like their Dorado, which is most of the way toward the Imperial IPA style.

    Harpoon Brewing (Boston) – available as far west as Chicago but no farther, and not in the South (at least last time I checked). Try the Leviathan, but no driving afterward :).

    Boulevard Brewing Company (Kansas City, MO) – mostly regional, but findable in specialty shops here in SoCal at least. The Double-Wide IPA, or really any of their smokestack series.

    Lagunitas (Northern California, but they do have a taproom in Chicago; I suspect they have reasonably broad distribution).

    Deschutes (Bend, OR). Pretty wide distribution.

    Ninkasi (Eugene, OR). The aptly-named Tricerahops double IPA. A nice oatmeal stout too – reminiscent of Samuel Smith’s.

    Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale is OK-but-unremarkable, but the seasonal Double Dead Guy is very good.

    • Avatar Patrick says:

      Lagunitas is another good one.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott says:

      Ooh, Deschutes is good. Black Butte Porter is the beer that got me into drinking beer. I just had one of their Black Butte Anniversary Porters a month or two ago, and it was wonderful.Report

      • Avatar Bruce Webb says:

        Black Butte is a pretty damn fine porter. And I like porters and stouts.

        Also Big Fun to mis-pronounce when ordering. At least if the bartender and the locals know you and there are tourists to scandalize. Otherwise you just come off as a wanker.Report

  22. Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

    What’s the difference between a microbrew and Coors Light?Report

  23. Avatar Will H. says:

    Capitol Brewing
    Cathedral Square
    August Schell (or Mendocino)Report