Recently, The Daily Meal conducted a survey to determine the best 25 craft breweries in America. They started with a panel of craft beer experts (my invitation apparently got lost in the mail) to pare down the 2,500+ breweries in the United States. From that huge group, 72 breweries were nominated, and the public then voted for the best. Over 11,500 votes were cast, and from that, the top 25 emerged. Here are their Top 25 Craft Breweries in America with some commentary on each.
If you don’t want to scroll through their slideshow, here’s the list:
- Dogfish Head (Lewes, Del.)
- Stone Brewing Company (Escondido)
- Boulevard Brewing Company (Kansas City, Mo.)
- Founders Brewing Company (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
- Cigar City Brewing Company (Tampa, Fla.)
- New Belgium Brewery (Fort Collins, Colo.)
- Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, Calif.)
- Bell’s Brewery (Kalamazoo, Mich.)
- Russian River Brewing Company (Santa Rose, Calif.)
- Sierra Nevada (Chico, Calif.)
- Odell Brewing Company (Fort Collins, Colo.)
- Three Floyds Brewing (Munster, Ind.)
- Avery Brewing Company (Boulder, Colo.)
- Oskar Blues (Lyons, Colo.)
- Rogue Ales (Portland, Ore.)
- Great Divide Brewery (Denver)
- Victory Brewing Company (Downington, Pa.)
- Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown, N.Y.)
- Green Flash Brewing Company (San Diego)
- Boston Beer Company (Boston)
- Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company (Roseland, Va.)
- Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, Me.)
- New Glarus Brewing Company (New Glarus, Wis.)
- Great Lakes Brewing Company (Cleveland)
- Anchor Brewing Company (San Francisco)
While I don’t have much argument with the breweries on this list (except Rogue, who doesn’t belong on a top anything list when it comes to beer), I find the rankings a bit odd in places. There’s no way anyone can convince me that Russian River and Three Floyds are not top-5 breweries. And while Dogfish Head does a great job producing a lot of different beers, there are very few that are just top notch for their style. They are iconic however, so that had to be the push that got them to the top. I also find it hard to believe that Firestone Walker didn’t make this list. To me, they are borderline top 10 material. Brooklyn Brewery is also noticeably absent, and I think they make better beer than a few on this list (Rogue, I’m still looking at you).
You’ll notice that there’s only one brewery from the south, Tampa’s Cigar City. It just goes to show that my part of the country has a long way to go when it comes to making high quality, well respected beer. Hopefully in the future we will see more southern breweries on a list like this. I think Jester King from Austin, TX could have been on this list with Houston’s Saint Arnold not far behind.
It also shows that the top breweries by production aren’t necessarily the most well respected. Breweries like Shiner, Harpoon, and Abita are all top 15 in terms of production, but didn’t make this list, nor should they have. They make and sell a lot of beer, but they don’t make a lot of truly excellent beer.
What do you think? Did they get it right with this list? Who is on it that shouldn’t be, and who is missing that should be there? Tell me what you think in the comments.