The 50 Best Craft Breweries in America 2016 Slideshow
April 12, 2016
We asked you to help us find the top craft breweries in America, here’s your 2016 picks
#50 Yuengling, Pottsville, PA
It may be the oldest operating brewery in the U.S., founded in 1829, however Yuengling didn’t always brew beer. During Prohibition, the brewery turned its attention to dairy products (Yuengling’s Ice Cream is still available today). The Yuengling Black and Tan is a customer favorite with smooth dark roasted malt and caramel flavor. But trying any one of their seven beers will leave you satisfied.
#49 101 North Brewing Company, Petaluma CA
#48 Alpine Beer Company, Alpine, CA
Alpine Beer began by contracting with Alesmith (a microbrewery in San Diego)in 1999. It doesn’t just brew, but also sells growlers and bottles, and offers tastings. Alpine opened its pub in 2010, seating 180 comfortably. Stop in and try breers like their West Coast Douple IPA, it's mega hoppy taste is not for the faint of heart.
#47 MadTree Brewing, Cincinnati OH
MadTree Brewing is a repeat favorite from last year’s list and it’s easy to see why. MadTree offers limited seasonal brews along with its year-round menu. It has also ditched the bottled look for the (now trendy) can. This brewery seems to have it all for the lucky locals of Cincinnati, including family tours and rotating tap options.
#46 Dark Horse Brewing Company, Marshall, MI
What began as a small Michigan restaurant became a serious brewing operation once Aaron Morse convinced his father to turn the family eatery into a brewpub. Dark Horse Brewing Company’s ales all have natural flavor. Take, for example, the raspberry ale: It’s made with the freshest raspberries for a mild fruit flavor that doesn’t overpower like most fruit beers.
#45 Lagunitas Brewing Company, Chicago
With influences from the beer-making communities in Chicago; St. Louis; Quincy, Massachusetts; Memphis; and Walker Creek, California, the crew of Lagunitas Brewing Company came to meet in Petaluma, California, to make hoppy magic. This brewery takes signature ales and transforms them into liquid gold. Don’t believe us? Sip on the Censored Ale, which is very smooth with a “roasty, malty” finish.
#44 Hoppin' Frog Brewery, Akron, OH
It’s no surprise that Hoppin’ Frog Brewery made our list this year; it maintains high standards for such a small operation as it manages to turn out seasonal and specialty brews. Hoppin’ Frog was also rated one of the Top 100 Brewers in the world for 2015 by RateBeer.com.
#43 Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago, Ill.
This brewery was built in 1995 and has only grown since then (but not too much, as it is still considered a craft brewery). One of the main reasons to visit Goose Island Beer Company? It pioneered the use of bourbon barrels in the beer-aging process. If you’ve never had the pleasure of trying bourbon-aged beer, you are in for a treat, and there’s no better place to go for it than Goose Island.
#42 Actual Brewing Company, Columbus
The Actual Brewing Company didn’t become part of the craft brew scene until 2010. Six years later, you can find its beers in restaurants and bars throughout Ohio. This brewery seems to be more chemist than artisan, making its products some very interesting ones. An added bonus to buying any of the bottles is the unique artwork attached to them.
#41 Green Flash Brewing Company, San Diego
At Green Flash Brewing Company, brewmaster Erik Jensen produces award-winning craft ales and is constantly experimenting with new brews. This means there are always limited edition beers available to check out, some of them fashioned in an area called Cellar 3, where Green Flash plays with barrel-aging and bottle-conditioning, producing fan favorites like Silvia Stout and Flanders Drive.
#40 Anchor Brewing Company, San Francisco
Anchor Brewing Company dates all the way back to 1896 and today they are rooted in tradition. Today the beer is made with an all malt mash in a traditional copper brewhouse. Beers like their Liberty Ale are brewed according to traditional craft brewing methods and produce a distinctive dry hopped ale.
#39 Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, CA
The beer that is now brewed under the name Russian River Brewing Company was originally influenced by a winery. When Korbel Champagne Cellars decided to do away with its own beer in 2003, the company turned to its trusted brewmaster, Vinnie Cilurzo, giving him the opportunity to continue brewing the beer he made for them under the same brand. Russian River Brewing is completely different now; producing beer aged in wine barrels.Try the double India pale ale Pliny the Elder for a well-balanced and hoppy brew.
#38 Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins, CO
#37 Cascade Brewing Barrel House, Portland, OR
Readers have pushed to get Cascade on this year’s list, calling it the "House of Sour"; the brewery does indeed take pride in its sour beers, which have a distinct tart flavor balanced nicely with milder notes, like hints of the oak used to age the beer: the brewery’s blending house has over 1,400 Kentucky bourbon, French oak, and Northwestern wine barrels!
#36 Full Sail Brewing Company, Hood River, OR
#35 Elysian Brewing Company, Seattle
Elysian Brewing Company operates four pubs in Seattle. Its fans can't get enough of its year-round brews like Dragons Tooth Stout, an imperial oatmeal stout. This favorite features coffee and dark chocolate notes with a smooth finish. Unlike some stouts, this one isn't heavy, but remains immensely satisfying.
#33 Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Houston
Saint Arnold Brewing Company was named after the patron saint of brewing, Saint Arnulf of Metz. The brewery's tours, offered weekly, draw as much attention as the beers. Beers like the Saint Arnold Amber Ale are kept on the menu year round. The strong, creamy head and light body of the beer make it the perfect one to enjoy with a burger.
#31 SweetWater Brewing Company, Atlanta, GA
SweetWater was founded in 1997 and, even though its distribution is only to a few select states, the wholly unpasteurized line of beers still earned the brewery a spot on our list. Its limited of distribution also didn't stop it from taking home the Gold at the 2010 World Beer Cup for its Barrel Aged and Sour, SweetWater’s Dank Tank “The Creeper.”
#30 Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD
Now housed in a state-of-the-art facility in Maryland, this “good beer” company with its iconic labels produces 70,000 barrels annually. While the beer speaks for itself, its labels also have a fascinating history. When co-founder George Stranahan was introduced to English artist Ralph Steadman by gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson (who lived down the road from the brewery in a “fortified compound” in Aspen), he met the man who’d create his bottles’ unique look, beginning with the Road Dog Porter.
#29 Magic Hat Brewing Company, South Burlington, VA
Magic Hat Brewing Company features just four year-round brews, but don't let that small number discourage you. It also offers seasonal beers and resurrected fan favorites, as well as variety packs of its beers. The Poppy Agave Ale is among the resurrected beers; it has a crisp, clean, sweet flavor and is perfect for the warmer weather!v
#28 Sixpoint Brewery, Brooklyn
Since its founding in 2004, Sixpoint has released hundreds of beers, so it’s difficult to pick just one standout. Sweet Action, however, is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted, with a refreshing zing all its own, and the recent favorite 4Beans Imperial Porter is steeped with Madagascar vanilla beans for a rich and creamy flavor.
#27 Evil Twin Brewing, Brooklyn
Founded just five years ago in Denmark, Evil Twin has already made its mark on the beer world and now proudly calls Brooklyn its second home. The company released 40 different beers in 2012 and exports to 12 countries, making this one of the most widely distributed breweries on our list.
#26 Trillium Brewing, Boston
Trillium Brewing Company originally opened in March of 2013 and quickly made a name for itself as one of the top breweries in Massachusetts. Trillium Brewing now has two locations, but its flagship is nestled in the heart of Boston’s Seaport District, just down the road from Harpoon Brewery (see No. 23). The brewery focuses mainly on IPAs, and these hoppy brews can be found in shops throughout Massachusetts.
#25 Smuttynose Brewing Company, Hampton, N.H.
Smuttynose Brewing Company, named after the third-largest of the nine islands that form the Isles of Shoals in New Hampshire, was born. Despite being available in 12 states and Europe, these beers remain distinctly loyal to the area in which they were born. The brewery’s Really Old Brown Dog full-bodied “old ale” is a testament to just that: a malt rich brew that has a complex flavor of fruit .
#24 Maine Beer Company, Freeport, Maine
The tasting area of this brewery, is a great place to go with a group, as it is filled with community tables big enough for all of your friends to enjoy the sample flights on offer — and to enjoy views of the brewing operation through huge glass windows .
#23 Harpoon Brewery, Boston
This brewery is best known for its Harpoon IPA, which has distinct hoppy and floral qualities. But a visit to Harpoon’s flagship in Boston (there’s another location of the brewery in Windsor, Vermont) will turn you on to at least one of its many other options, from both its seasonal Unfilitered Offerings and mainstay UFOs to stout to craft cider. The line to get in can be long, but once inside patrons are rewarded with the choice of almost 20 beers on tap, as well as set flights and sourdough pretzels. Tours are $5 and sell out quickly, but beer-lovers won’t want to skip out on this one: Tour-goers can taste as many beers as they want once inside the tasting room.
#22 The Alchemist Brewery, Waterbury, Vt.
This family brewery, situated in small-town Vermont, focuses on one thing and one thing only: Heady Topper, the brewery’s famous double IPA. Luckily, all that focus pays off, resulting in a blend of six hops that hits some beautiful notes, featuring hints of citrus, pine, and spice. The Alchemist Brewery is closed to the public, but these excellent beers are worth seeking out from retailers
#21 Columbus Brewing Company, Columbus, OH
That the Columbus Brewing Company finds a place on this list could have something to do with the local ingredients sourced to make its signature beers or maybe its fan-favorite brews like the Bodhi that burst with hoppy and citrus flavor. Go try one of the year-round beers and decide for yourself.
#20 Three Floyds Brewing Company, Munster, Ind.
Three Floyds Brewing Company is well known for such popular beers as the colorfully named Zombie Dust and the Space Station Middle Finger. While both of these beers are pale ales, they have very different flavor profiles . Don't believe us? Stop in to Three Floyds and try them out for yourself.
#19 Jackie O's Pub & Brewery, Athens, OH
Ohio seems to be a hotbed for brewing activity these days and Jackie O's Pub & Brewery is our latest favorite from the area. The pub’s food cart menu is locally sourced and offers some delicious snacks to pair with the beers while you relax. The pub's 16 taps offer a brew for everyone to enjoy.
#18 Great Lakes Brewing Company, Cleveland
Great Lakes Brewing Company prides itself on its environmental conscience and sustainability practices almost as much as its beer. The brewery is committed to local, organic farming for the harvest of raw materials and exclusively uses alternative fuels in their factory. All that green power produces some truly great beer. Great Lakes’ Eliot Ness Amber Lager is a testament to that, comprising slightly toasted malts and noble hops for a smooth and light finish.
#17 Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
Firestone Walker Brewing earned a spot in our top 20 for many reasons. Using a patented fermentation process that gives the beer a distinctive oaky flavor, this brewery won the award for World Cup Champion Brewer four times, in 2004, 2006, 2010, and 2012, respectively. Firestone Walker was also the sixteenth largest craft brewery in the United States based on sales in 2014. You'll want to stop in and see what these guys are brewing.
#16 Ballast Point Brewing Company, San Diego
Ballast Point didn't stop at brewing — it is now also a distillery featuring 14 different spirits! Ballast Point Brewing was founded in 1996 and is the first micro-distillery in San Diego since Prohibition. Many of the beers are named after fishing terms, like the Pineapple Sculpin IPA and the Mango Even Keel. These brews are certainly different from your everyday craft beers.
#15 Left Hand Brewing, Longmont, CO
Left Hand Brewing may be making its debut on our list this year, but the company is certainly no stranger to the beer-loving community. Its secret to success? It’s simple, really: It is all about staying balanced. From the brewery’s lightest beers to its darkest, each offering has the perfect balance between malts and hops for a smooth and refreshing finish. Try the Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout if you’re looking for the perfect example of a beer that makes a statement while keeping a balanced flavor profile.
#14 Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR
As the Deschutes Brewery looks over the gorgeous Deschutes River, it is only fair to wonder if the secret to its delicious beer is actually in the water. A local institution, this brewery has been around since 1988, consistently pushing flavor profiles to the limit and experimenting with special small-batch brews. For a go-to beer, try the Black Butte Porter, a rich and dark beer that satisfies.
#13 Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL
The self-proclaimed "world’s best beer" may have slipped a bit from its top 10 spot on our list last year, but Cigar City, a Florida favorite, has fans from far outside the Sunshine State thanks to its unique lineup of beers. The Two Regular Joes imperial stout is anything but average, and the seasonal Puppy’s Breath not only has an aww-worthy name, it has the aroma of chocolate and coffee (said to resemble an actual puppy’s breath).
#12 Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY
Brewery Ommegang crept up on the list this year by one spot. Before Cooperstown was known for baseball, the town was the center of U.S. hop production. Situated on 136 acres of an old hop farm, Brewery Ommegang seeks to keep that tradition alive. Ommegang famously teamed up with HBO to make Game of Thrones-inspired beer, proving that tradition is always contemporary.
#11 Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, PA
Created in 1996 by best friends Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski, Victory Brewing Company is the toast of Pennsylvania, with a reach that spans the nation. The company uses German malted barley and a mix of both European and American whole-flower hops (the use of whole-flower hops is unusual; the brewers insist this creates a better flavor and aroma in the beer). Victory is well known for its Hop Devil IPA, but Belgian-style-lovers flock around any tap that is pouring the fruity and floral Golden Monkey.
#10 Tröegs, Hershey, PA
Brothers John and Chris Trogner founded Tröegs (a play on their last name) in 1996, and in 1997 they sold their first keg to a local restaurant in Harrisburg. Since then, they’ve developed 15 brews. While the Tröegenator is a year-round favorite, every Tröegs fan longs for the holiday season, when the brewery’s Christmastime beer Mad Elf arrives on shelves.
#9 Fat Head's Brewery, Cleveland
This brewery built a name for itself and not just on the beer alone. Its sandwiches are a must for many! Also known as "headwiches," these massive constructions pair wonderfully with the beers the brewery cooks up. Beers like the Bumble Berry honey blueberry ale and the Sunshine Daydream session ale are year-round favorites for many. This season check out the Hop Stalker IPA or the Shakedown Stout imperial American stout.
#8 Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, CO
In 2002, Oskar Blues Brewery was one of the first to put their craft beer in cans. They brew eight beers year round in 100- and 200-barrel batches. One of these beers is their Gubna, an imperial IPA made with three malts.
#7 New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, CO
New Belgium quickly turned from a microbrewery into one of the most respected and loved full-scale breweries in the country. While Fat Tire is the solid flagship beer of New Belgium, the brewery takes risks with its seasonal offerings. Its Pear Ginger Beer has zesty flavors and compelling aromatics.
#6 Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn
Amazingly enough, Brooklyn Brewery is making an appearance on our list this year for the first time, after fans rallied for it on the write-in portion of our survey. Located in the hipster capital of the world — Williamsburg, Brooklyn — this brewery predates the counterculture wave that sprung up around it. On the team is author and James Beard Award-winning brew master Garrett Oliver and co-founder Steve Hindy, who’s an author and beer industry commentator. These folks are just two among a team of impassioned beer advocates who bring unique seasonal flavors and year-round ales to their growing masses of fans.
#5 Toppling Goliath Brewing Co, Decorah Iowa
Toppling Goliath was started a mere seven years ago, but it is already a force to be reckoned with in the craft-beer community. Situated in a Midwest college town, this brewery drives in tourists. Offering 39 beers of varying complexity, Toppling Goliath has certainly earned its spot at No. 5 on this year’s best craft breweries.
#4 Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, CA
Established in 1979 by a couple of home brewers, Sierra Nevada Brewing has come a long way and now produces the second best-selling craft beer in the United States. The first brew ever made here was a pale ale, but the brewery now offers seasonal, year-round, and even high-altitude beers like the Bigfoot, one beast of a beer with a full body and aggressive hop flavor.
#3 Bell's Brewery, Kalamazoo, MI
With over 20 beers brewed for distribution, this Kalamazoo icon brings artful and delicious flavors to the masses. While producing quality beer is obviously the main focus (just sip on some Oarsman Ale and you’ll see), another aspect we appreciate is the emphasis they place on the sustainability and environmental impact of the beer. Bell’s Brewery’s farm in Shepherd, Michigan, follows no-till farming techniques, and it has seriously reduced its carbon footprint with recycling practices that necessitate garbage pick-up just once a week.
#2 Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, Maine
Allagash Brewing Company is known best for the Belgian influence in its beers, something founder Rob Tod thought was missing in American brewing culture. Before each beer is bottled, a fresh dose of yeast and candi sugar (a Belgian invert sugar) is added, so that when it is put in a temperature-regulated cellar it re-ferments to add a unique taste. This attention to detail and focus on quality is exactly why Allagash continues to be a fan-favorite, climbing high on our list this year to earn our No. 2 spot.
#1 Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, Del.
It is no surprise that Dogfish Head Brewery is at the top spot on our list. Since 1995, this brewery has been creating craft beer that is approachable and relatable to all tastes. Its dedication to quality is what garners the brewery such a respectable reputation in the Rehoboth Beach area and around the country. Try the year-round Belgian-style white beer Namaste, made with “dried organic orange slices, fresh-cut lemongrass, and a bit of coriander,” for a refreshing beer that will totally confirm why America thinks of Dogfish Head as the top craft brewery in the country.