Lauren Gordon, the Managing Editor for The Daily Meal, previews some of this year's best craft breweries in America.
In the late 1500s, Virginian colonists establishing their lives in America were making some of the most important discoveries in recent history. And perhaps it is fair to say that the year 1587 saw the most important of all. Well, if you are a beer lover, anyway. That was the first year that Virginians began brewing ale with corn, creating America’s original hand-crafted beer.
We’ve evolved immensely since then, adding layers of nuance and flavor to beers in all corners of the country. Today there truly is something for everyone in the beer department.
With hundreds of American craft breweries to choose from, it feels like an impossible task to determine the best. It’s like asking folks to choose their favorite star in the sky or their favorite flower from an extravagant bouquet; each is beautifully unique and appealing in its own way. But ask we did, and, boy, did we get answers.
The journey really began with last year’s vote. We started our 2014 list of the country's best craft breweries with producers nominated by beer advocates and experts, each of whom carefully selected his or her nominations with an eye to taste and variety. What resulted was a list of over 120 establishments worthy of notice. Then we asked you, the readers of The Daily Meal, to weigh in. While the amount of votes we received was impressive, what was even more amazing was the fact that there were over 4,000 write-in submissions for breweries that weren't on our shortlist.
This year, we combined last year's write-ins with our existing list, then whittled down the choices to 585 breweries situated everywhere from the tip of Maine to the southernmost point in Texas. Then, with the help of over 2,200 beer lovers from across the nation, we narrowed down that roster to 50 top breweries for 2015. More than 20 states are represented. While California is still king of craft brews, as it was last year, we saw a rise in Michigan spots, as well as those from Ohio and Colorado. Another cool trend? Out of the five New York-based breweries, three of them call Brooklyn home.
What is a craft brewery? According to the Brewers Association, in order for a brewery to be considered craft, it must be “small, independent, and traditional.” That means that it produces no more that six million barrels per year and that outside investors or part-owners have less than 25 percent control of the brand.
From your favorites that made it last year to new and exciting breweries on the verge of brewing (pun intended) up something special, from spots in Kalamazoo to Boonville, we cannot wait to share with you the best places to enjoy craft beer in 2015!
#50 Tallgrass Brewing Company, Manhattan, Kan.
When Jeff Gill and his wife Tricia pondered the age-old question “What do you want to do with your life?” in 2006, they immediately turned their thoughts to craft beer. It is a good thing too, because in 2007 they formed Tallgrass Brewing, a copper-clad brew house that is serving fans a unique array of tasty styles. Try the Buffalo Sweat, an oatmeal cream stout that is perfectly dark and decadent.
#49 Toppling Goliath Brewing Co., Decorah, Iowa
A growing giant in the industry, Iowa's Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. began only in 2009. Today they have a four- vessel, 30-barrel system that brews incredible styles that range from bold double IPAs to barrel- and-wood aged beers. Be sure to sample the Golden Nugget India Pale Ale made from Alt and Buggest hops for a medium-rich, easy drink.