Beer is an elixir made by Gods. Of course, 10 years ago I was never a big fan of it. Always preferring hard liquor, beer was nothing more than an afterthought until craft beer started to reel me in. In the past decade the popularity of craft beer has seen a huge surge. According to Brewers Association, since 2009, well over 1000 micro breweries and 400+ brewpubs have opened their doors. The choices are endless. Beer drinkers around the country seem more open to trying new kinds of beer than ever before. So whether you’re new to the world of craft beer or a seasoned brew connoisseur, here is a list of our five favorite craft breweries.
Starting off with one of the most consistent breweries on the market. Founded in Pennsylvania by childhood friends Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski, Victory brews over 10 different beers each year, not including seasonal or limited releases. Harvest Ale, Hopdevil and Golden Monkey are all great. Harvest Ale is a fall beer, so make sure you try it once it’s in season. Hopdevil is a beer for those that like a strong taste of hops (as the name obviously points out) and if you really want your money’s worth try out Golden Monkey, the strongest of the bunch, with a 9.5% ABV.
In my opinion, Colorado’s best brewery, the winner of 18 Great American Beer Festival medals, 5 World Beer Cup awards, also named 7th in Beer Advocate’s 2010 “All-Time Top Brewers.” You really can’t go wrong with any Great Divide beer but hands down the real highlight is their Yeti Imperial Stout. Easily one of the best stouts you’ll taste. Also, their seasonal and limited releases such as Orabelle and Old Ruffian (11.8% ABV!) might be harder to find (depending on your area) but don’t sleep if you do.
As a fan of IPAs it would be a crime to not mention Stone Brewing. So Cal’s largest brewery was voted by readers of Beer Advocate as the #1 “All Time Top Brewery on Planet Earth”. Stone IPA and Ruination are some of my favorite beers. Outside of IPAs, Arrogant Bastard is a strong ale that’s well worth its price. All these beers are rated “Outstanding” to “World Class” on Beer Advocate.
Honestly, I’m pretty offended this isn’t on a lot of Top 5. This brewery is borderline flawless. Ommegang has received multiple world beer cup, european beer star and great american beer fest awards. They also release the official Game of Thrones beers, four of which have been released so far, with the new Third Eye Raven to be released in April. There is no such thing as a bad Ommegang beer. Three Philosophers is an delicious quadruple ale with a 9.7% ABV and a very smooth taste. Rare Vos, Hennepin and Gnommegang are all beers I drink on the regular. The only reason Ommegang wasn’t #1 on my list is because they tend to be a bit pricey ($10-15 for a 4 pack) but you’re paying for quality.
Hands down my favorite brewery, Dogfish Head. Founded in Delaware in 1995, its undoubtedly the best brewery in America. Not only are all their beers worth sampling, but their distribution is on point, allowing you to have access to great beer in bars, liquor stores and gas stations all across the country. Dogfish has become my “go-to” beer simply because I know that I can find it almost anywhere. They’ve also put out a few limited “Music Series” beers as tribute to artists such as Pearl Jam (Faithful Ale) & Miles Davis (Bitches Brew). Everything. You see the fish logo, you have to sample it at the very least. Dogfish 60 Minute and 90 Minute are great IPAs and are pretty popular at the moment, Midas Touch is a bit sweeter than most of their products but the taste of it is unparalleled. Immort Ale, Beer To Drink Music To, Palo Santo, and Burton Baton are easily some of the best beers in the market. If you really want a strong beer, find a bottle of the rare 120 Minute. It’s not something for everybody but it’s as heavy in alcohol content as it is in price, ranging for about $20 a bottle with an ABV of 18%.