The 50 Best Craft Breweries in America

You told us, we listened: the who’s who of craft beer in 2014

The 50 Best Craft Breweries in America
Great Divide
There are just so many good beers to choose among.

Last year, we rounded up the 25 Best Craft Breweries in America, and while that list remains solid in 2014 — and several of last year’s winners are featured again this year — we decided to expand and develop our list of all-star U.S. breweries. What better way to begin than by doubling the list (more of a good thing being, of course, excellent), and taking into account the year’s most interesting craft beer trends? So go ahead, crack one (or two, if they’re session beers!) open and enjoy.

The 50 Best Craft Breweries in America (Slideshow)

So what’s changed this year that we should consider when determining the best craft breweries of 2014? Well, for starters, those aforementioned sessions beers have made a major impact this year: low-alcohol brews designed for people who love to drink beer — and keep sipping it all day long with impunity. The beers are also an interesting brewing challenge: creating a beer that maintains the intensity of the main style’s flavor with a lower alcohol content is quite difficult, and we’ve been excited about the number of impressive successes that have come out in the past year.

The relatively new Citra and Mosaic hops have made a big splash, as breweries across the board have been discovering these varieties and featuring them in more and more beers, especially IPAs.

Another pleasant shift in the craft-brew zeitgeist has been a new focus on collaborations: many breweries have begun collaborating with other breweries or homebrewers, often resulting in some fantastic, specialty one-off beers. Stone Brewery, for instance, launched W00tStout 2.0 this month, a collaboration with Drew Curtis of Fark.com, Wil Wheaton, and Aisha Tyler. It doesn’t get much more fun than that.

So how does one go about actually determining which breweries are the best in the U.S.? While this is an admittedly subjective subject — and one that our readers appear have some very strong opinions on, we might add — we started the process as impartially as possible: by asking our panel of craft beer experts to nominate breweries they believed in. They chose from among new breweries that have really started to make a name for themselves, as well as older standbys that continue to brew excellent, consistent beer year after year. In the end, we tried to focus on craft breweries that offer a range of great brews, rather than those that offer one particularly stand-out beer.

Once the nominations were in (all 118 of them), we asked you, dear readers, to weigh in on which breweries deserved to be recognized. And you responded with a deluge of your well-researched opinions: we received over 13,000 votes, and many write-in opinions: Left Hand, Hailstorm, and Port City Brewing Company, for instance, all received multiple shout-outs from craft beer aficionados who felt they should have been nominated (and we listened: next year, we promise you, they’re a lock for round one).

While we’re proud of our list, and while we believe that it represents some of the best craft breweries in America, we also know that it’s truly impossible to narrow down all of the great options to the absolute best brewery in the U.S. So much depends on personal taste, regionality, and your own associations. We’re lucky that the craft beer scene has grown exponentially in recent years, and that these days, there are great local craft beers to enjoy everywhere in the United States.

#50 Devils Backbone Brewing Company — Roseland, Virginia

Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company in Roseland, Virginia

This 15,000-square-foot brewery located in the lush, mountainous heart of central Virginia should be on every beer lover’s watch list. In the six short years they’ve been in operation, the pub has won seventeen medals at the Great American Beer Festival. Their Gold Leaf Lager, a hoppy, Bavarian-style beer, is an annual favorite, bringing home three of the company’s GABF awards. Additionally, Devils Backbone was named Small Brewer of the Year for two consecutive years in 2012 and 2013.

#49 Cascade Brewing Company — Portland, Oregon

bottles from Cascade Brewing Company

Brewmaster Ron Gansberg got his start making wine in the Pacific Northwest, but his attention eventually shifted to the growing microbrew movement, particularly sour brews, which rely on yeast and barrel aging instead of hops to produce flavor. These days, Gransberg’s risk has paid off. The New York Times recently named Cascade’s Kriek the best sour beer in America. Beer Advocate also rates the beer “Outstanding,” praising the tart/sweet flavor of the red ale, which is barrel-aged eight months with fresh Bing and sour pie cherries.

Read more about The 50 Best Craft Breweries in America

Did your favorite brewery make this year's list? Tweet us @TheDailyMeal using the hashtag #craftbeer2014

Jess Novak is the Drink Editor of The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @jesstothenovak

With research and reporting from Emily Alford and Marcy Franklin


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43 Comments

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Toppling Goliath should be on the list. They have a few in the top 50 beers on Beer Advocate...

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Great basin brewing??? 20 years in Nevada and multiple gabf and world cup medals....

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Where the heck are Asheville NC brewery's - it is/was the Brew Capital of the country!!!!

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I don't see Magic Hat and very few northeast microbreweries here , when this region was one of strongest in the U.S. ie Boston Brewing Co.

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Very disappointed to not find Chicago's Goose Island on your list. You missed one.

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Another to check out is Evolution Brewery, amazing beers. Salsbury, MD

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Disappointed to not see a single Texas or Louisiana brewery on the list. And there are several in those states that are better than the ones that made the list. Honestly it seems as though the South was skipped almost completely.

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I'm not surprised nor disappointed...I grew up in New Orleans (a real drinkers town) and I now live in Denver. I assure you there are probably 50 better microbreweries in Colorado alone that are better than Texas and Louisiana combined.

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Hilarious! I'm sure there are 50 Colorado breweries that aren't as good as Texas breweries either. Don't get me wrong, there are some really great breweries in Co. I won't go down the list of Tx breweries, but just to name a few St. Arnold's, Jester King, Karbach are all damn good and at least 1 of them deserves some attention in this article.

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Where the hell is Saranac?

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Great list. Add a MAP tab!

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Wow, no St. Arnolds out of Texas? Crazy...

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Agreed. It seems they completely neglected Texas and all of the amazing breweries there.

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I just wish #48 Shorts was not on the list. Don't want to share it. Stay away from Bellaire....go home....go back to Ohio, go back to Illinois...stay the heck out of Michigan.

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What no Anderson Valley, Uinta or North Coast? Great breweries brewing great beers for many years!

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Got to get at least one from Chicago in there. Between Revolution, Half Acre, Pipeworks, Haymarket, etc, one of them has to be there.

FlintSkinny's picture

OMG, my favorite was left off! That's bullshit; DailyMeal is so stupid!

You all realize this was voted on by the readers, right? There wasn't just one guy named Johnny D. Meal sitting back picking his 50 favorites. Breweries with a bigger distribution footprint will always have an edge.

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Where are the Washington beers?

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Hard to take this list legit when you leave off 2 award winning craft breweries: Terrapin and Sweetwater.

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Amen brother

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No NINKASI?? WTF? FAIL

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While I agree with many on your list, you missed the boat by not including VooDoo Brewery in Meadville, Pa. They have a really cool hipster-style brewpub and have made several award-winning, nationally recognized beers. Their Russian Imperial Stout (Big Black Voodoo Daddy) and new IPS (Good Vibes) are some of the best I have ever had. I would put them in the top ten!

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While I agree with many on your list, you missed the boat with a small microbrewery in Meadville Pennsylvania called VooDoo Brewery. The have made some fantastic, award-winning beers (Big Black Voodoo Daddy won a silver medal as the second best Russian Imperial Stout at the Great American Beer Fest in Colorado and their Good Vibes IPA is one of the best I have ever had), and have a really cool hipster brewpub. I would put them in the top ten!

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No one will ever completely agree with someone else's top list....just enjoy the list for what it is. My personal favorite is #48.....but almost no one outside of MI has had their beers.

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Hello!

How is Rogue Brewery not on this list? There are lots of good one's here, but not Rogue? You're kidding me! Rogue beats at least 3 of the MI breweries listed here--and I live in MI.

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Be proud Michigan. All four breweries listed deserve the nod.

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Rogue sucks

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Rogue does suck

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For the most part yeah, average. But their Hazelnut Brown is an exception. Well-balanced and a solid beer.

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Schlafly, Urban Chestnut, Perennial Artisan, 4-Hands, O'Fallon......Just a few....come to one of the hottest craft beer markets in the country, ST. LOUIS......Then redo your list.. .You forgot a few.... There's a few others here in STL I didn't name.....

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