The recent explosion of American microbreweries has shifted the beer industry’s attention to quality, not quantity. And
now — with Oktoberfest underway —
is the perfect time to discover a new artisanal brew.
We found the 24 coolest microbrewers making waves in the American craft beer industry, from a Latin American-style cervecería
in Chicago to a sustainable brewery in Maui that uses local Hawaiian ingredients to make its brews.
A brewery is considered a microbrewery if it produces less than 15,000 barrels per year, with 75% or more of its beer sold off-site, according to the Brewers Association.
Located: Bedford Park, Ill.
Located outside Chicago, the first Latin American-style microbrewery, or
cervecería, in the country infuses its brews with ancho chilli, piloncillo cane sugar, and other Latin flavours.
5 Rabbit was inspired by an Aztec myth, and the names of the beers all coincide in some way with the Aztec calendar.
The brewmasters believe in enjoying and savouring life, so every few weeks they publish a recipe on their website that would pair well with one of their beers.
Located: San Diego, Calif.
Amplified Aleworks isn't the only microbrewery in San Diego by a long shot, but it's one of the coolest.
Operated out of the popular California Kebab and Beer Garden, their best deal is on Sundays when you can pay $US20 for four Amplified beer samplings and some thick-cut hickory smoked bacon. It's pretty hard to go wrong with bacon and beer.
Located: Portland, Ore.
Portland's new kid on the block, Base Camp, will thrill outdoor adventurers with its 22-ounce aluminium bottles of Carabiner Cream Ale or In-Tents Indian Pale Lager.
Visit the taproom, designed with exposed timber beams, chairs woven from climbing ropes, and trail maps encased in glass countertops, and order the S'mores Stout. Your server will blowtorch a marshmallow garnish at the table.
Located: Long Island City, N.Y.
Named for the power plant between Manhattan and Queens on the East River, Big Alice has no official recipes for its beers. Instead, it makes each brew differently with fresh ingredients in unique combinations like the curry and lapsang smoked porter, or the cinnamon, rose, and bird's eye chilli abbey.
Beer lovers can buy CSA shares of Big Alice beer each season to receive a large sampling of some of their brews every month.
Located: Boulder, Colo.
Chef Ian Clark opened BRU Handbuilt Ales in February so he could have a place where he could combine his love of brewing and cooking under one roof. The food menu was created to complement the different beer offerings on site, making for one unified taste experience.
Being a trained chef gives Clark the unique ability to craft some very artful beer recipes, like an imperial stout made with Colorado peaches and bitter cocoa or an IPA brewed with fresh lemon zest and juniper.
Located: Ukiah, Calif.
Butte Creek specialises in beers that are good for the earth. Organic, all natural ingredients produced without pesticides or artificial fertilizers keep the beers' taste and aroma pure.
Lauded for its wholesome, unadulterated ingredients, Butte Creek's 22-ounce IPA was recently included in Greatist's list of 10 Healthier Beers.
Located: Cape Cod, Mass.
The Cape Cod Beer Company is a small operation with a great tasting room where visitors can sample different brews. This is especially key since they don't bottle their beers and it's hard to find their beers outside the Cape Cod area.
This brewery is all about environmental sustainability: They strive for a small carbon footprint by sourcing their hops from a local farm, keeping their beer local, and recycling everything.
Located: New York, N.Y.
Manhattan's largest microbrewery sits on Pier 59, with a pristine view of the Hudson River through the restaurant's two-story glass wall. It serves up to 25 handcrafted premium beers, including a seasonal Spicy Pumpkin Pie ale that tastes like puréed Thanksgiving-dessert magic.
Its year-round brews, seen on draft menus citywide, include New York-themed beers like the Checker Cab Blonde Ale and the New York State of Mind Wet Hop.
Location: Seattle, Wash.
Founded by 'Entourage' actor Adrian Grenier and former Nike designer Justin Hawkins, Churchkey's Pilsner-style brew brings back the original, flat-top beer can. Every six-pack comes with the necessary churchkey-style can opener to tap the vintage-inspired cans -- hence the tagline, 'It's worth the effort.' Churchkey distributes in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco.
Located: Lahaina, Hawaii
The Maui Brewing Company infuses its beers with Hawaiian flavours like Maui gold pineapple, hand-toasted coconuts, and lemongrass to create ales such as its Coconut Porter and Bikini Blonde Lager.
The Hawaiian microbrewery prizes sustainability: Its cans are designed by Maui artists, manufactured on Oahu, and packaged in a unique, recyclable plastic carrying case -- which is safer for marine life if not disposed of properly. It also donates processed grains to local ranchers for cattle feed and composting.
Located: Red Lodge, Mont.
Red Lodge Ales prides itself on being a totally sustainable brewery. Their site is home to one of the largest solar thermal arrays in Montana, which harnesses solar energy to power their operations.
The brewery also recycles their cleaning solution, reusing it on multiple brew batches to limit waste. In addition to its beers that are available year-round, the brewery releases a number of seasonal beers just for Oktoberfest.
Located: Astoria, N.Y.
SingleCut creates beers that celebrate (sometimes odd) traditions and flavours. For the unofficial Jewish tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas, for example, they brewed a crisp lager with matzah and Szechuan peppercorns. They age some other beers in original whiskey barrels that were owned by Jack Daniels.
The brewery is small right now, but they plan on doubling the number of beers they offer over the next year.
Located: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Every year Sixpoint teams up with Beer Advocate, a publication devoted to beer, to host a day-long event in Brooklyn called Beer for Beasts, where a love of beer and a love of animals comes together. Sixpoint brews single batches of unique beers only available at the event, and all proceeds go to the Humane Society of New York.
This past year the reigning favourite was called the Not-So-Thin Mint, containing 'all the elements of a Girl Scout cookie.'
Located: Jackson Hole, Wy.
Snake River bottles up the local flavours of Jackson Hole in beers brewed 'to match the scenery.' Even though they brew just 5,000 barrels a year, they have a crazy number of different beers available, and some of them can be bought online and shipped to you.
Snake River is also home to a gourmet brew pub, with truffle burgers, house-made Italian sausages, and freshly baked bread.
Location: Manhattan, Kan.
Tallgrass Brewing Company was founded by a husband-and-wife team, who pursued their dreams and quit their jobs to move to a small town in Kansas's Tallgrass Prairie and open a microbrewery.
They serve creative beers like the 8-Bit, a hop-rocketed American pale ale that actually
comes with its own 'video game,' and Buffalo Sweat, an oatmeal cream stout, in funky-looking cans.
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