What was once just a trend is now a full-blown, happening movement that's swept the country: craft beer. Ask just about anyone with an of-age license and taste buds, and people will have an opinion about who makes the best beer around. And despite the fact that craft beer still makes up just less than 7 percent of the total beer market in the U.S., the number of craft breweries has imploded in just the past decade: now at 2,360 operating breweries in 2012, according to the Brewer's Association.
Which is why we want to know: what is America's best craft brewery? You can narrow it down by the most medals won, or the most beers sold, but a great craft brewery is more than that. It's a commitment to quality, of course — that can't be ignored. But we at The Daily Meal think a great craft brewery "taps" into its hometown roots and delivers a beer that brings people together. Whether it's your classic lager or your favorite summer seasonal, the best craft breweries will engage both the "craft beer curious" and the connoisseurs and satiate everyone's palates.
But of course, while we have our own ideas of who the leaders are in craft brewing, we want to know who your picks are — what are the craft breweries that you'll order no matter what at the bar? We asked some of the country's top craft beer experts to share with us who they think are the craft breweries making waves. Some breweries (we won't tell you which ones) were nominated over and over again, and some breweries were hometown favorites that our panelists themselves admitted were obscure. But no matter how big (Sierra Nevada) or small (Chicago's Piece Pizzeria and Brewery) they are, these craft breweries our panelists believe should be recognized.
Over the past week, dozens of authorities in the craft beer space have assisted us in nominating the best craft breweries in the country. Now whittled down to the top 25, we are asking YOU to cast your vote and decide what, you feel, is the best craft brewery in America. You can select your five favorites among the nominees, and in one week, we will unveil who YOU chose as America’s Best Craft Brewery.
Each one of these 72 breweries, from 21 different states from coast to coast, is already a winner — and we know it's difficult to choose just one favorite. (One panelist noted that choosing a favorite American craft brewery is as hard as choosing a favorite film, or a favorite Beatles song — nearly impossible.) But we want you readers to weigh in and tell us: what is your favorite craft brewery?
Click here to take the survey and tell us which breweries deserve to be recognized (American Idol-style), because we want to recognize who we think is the best.