These breweries are producing the most award-winning beer in the world.
Long considered a gypsy brewery, Evil Twin finally put down roots in Brooklyn. Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, a Danish beer lover, started brewing beer in Copenhagen in 2006 with his twin brother, then spent time squatting in a slew of other brands’ breweries before conceptualizing his own. He still brings his show on the road to develop beers for restaurants like the NoMad and others, but it’s in Brooklyn that he creates popular brews like Sour Bikini (a sour ale) and Imperial Doughnut Break, served at his Brooklyn bar, Tørst.
Dieu du Ciel won the 2014 Best Brewery award from RateBeer, thanks in part to their Dieu du Ciel Péché Mortel, rated best beer in Quebec. The brewery has been in business since 1998, working on collaborations with Shinga Kougen in Japan (together they created an Imperial Stout/Saison hybrid), unique offerings like a dessert stout made with fair-trade cocoa and vanilla, porters with pepper and yuzu, and strong black ales aged in cabernet sauvignon barrels.
The Bruery uses a proprietary Belgian yeast strain for a majority of the beers in their portfolio. They also favor oak barrels (both bourbon and wine) for aging. Fans appreciate the experimental ales, brewed with both tradition and innovation at hand. Theor Oude Tart won the gold medal at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival and last year their golden strong ale, Mischief, won a gold at the International Beer Competition. This year, they are expanding with the addition of a new brand and tasting room.
Dogfish Head produces an impressive 175,000 barrels of beer annually and keeps growing. The brewery was featured in the documentary Beer Wars and was the focus of the Discovery Channel series Brew Masters in 2010. Collaborations with bands like the Grateful Dead and with artisan food producers and European glassware designers keep Dogfish working outside the box while still producing what they call “off-centered ales for off-centered people.” Standouts include their award-winning 90 Minute IPA and seasonal Aprihop.
This Kalamazoo-based brewery began in 1985 and currently produces over 20 small batch beers available for retail sale and for enjoyment in their Eccentric Café pub. Their seasonal Two Hearted Ale was named Best India IPA in the world in 2014. Two of the brand’s other beer — Bell’s Hopslam and Bell’s Black Note Stout — also took home honors. Fans look forward to the April release of Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) — a stout brewed with coffee, chocolate and cave-aged in bourbon barrels for a year.
Russian River Brewing Company (RRBC) was originally owned by Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guerneville, Calif. Since brew master Vinnie Cilurzo and his wife Natalie bought the rights to the brand, Russian River Brewing has created an award-winning portfolio of beers including their supremely popular annual IPA Pliny the Elder — which won the Bronze at the Great American Beer Festival last year, their German-style STS Pils, Supplication Sour Ale (rated 4.275 out of five by RateBeer experts), Pliny the Younger and more. In 2004 and 2006, the brewery itself won awards for Best Large Brew Pub at the World Beer Cup.
America’s most family-friendly state is home to Cigar City Brewing. Celebrating the strong Latin culture that is an influence in its home city of Tampa, Cigar City produces beers like their Cubano-Style Espresso Ale and Jai Ali IPA and a specialty release called Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout which is aged on cacao nibs, Madagascar vanilla beans, ancho and pasilla chiles, and cinnamon. In 2014, Cigar City Brewing founder Joey Redner was a semifinalist for the James Beard award for Outstanding Wine, Spirits or Beer Professional.
Since opening its doors in 2009, The Kernel has made an impression on London’s beer scene. Taking inspiration from U.S. craft beers, Irish-born owner Evin O'Riordain operates the brewery from an archway on Druid Street. Their Export Stout, based on a 1890 recipe from a London brewery, is their top-selling and -performing beer, having won the title of "Supreme Champion" at the International Beer Challenge and the Society of Independent Brewers' UK Championship as the top Bottled Beer in 2011. Fans love the beers and the fact that the brewery is open to the public on Saturdays and sits in a community of food and drink artisans that are working to change the landscape of London’s food scene.
Hill Farmstead produces just 60,000 gallons of beer a year, available at the brewery and at 20 or so Vermont bars. In 2012, their 14 beers made up more than 25 percent of RateBeer’s top 50 beers list. Hill Farmstead’s popularity and accolades have not stopped. It took top honors as best brewery in the world two years in a row and brewer/founder Shaun E. Hill won the New Brewer of the Year award. His philosophy is to know how to create and understand a good base before going big with flavors like marzipan, almond, and coconut in a bourbon-barrel aged beer.