Our last article was about the best beer brands of the United Kingdom. This time we will investigate the brews in the land of Uncle Sam by comparing them and setting up a sequence. More than 3000 breweries are producing beer in the United States, including industry giants, brew pubs and microbreweries.
The country produced 196 million barrels of beer in 2012. The USA is the second biggest beer drinking nation after China, but this may be due to the country’s size, since if we look on the „per capita” datas, we find out that the rank of the USA is only the fifteenth.
Beer consumption was an integral part during the colonial years, but 1919 seemed to be turning point: in this year the Eigteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution came into force, which striked the alcohol market in a high degree. All alcoholic beverage has been prohibited, and this forced nearly all American breweries to close.
After the end of prohibition the industry segmented into a small number of large companies, which have mostly merged into large international conglomerates like SABMiller or Anheuser-Busch InBey by the 21st century.
American lager is the most commonly produced beer type by the big companies, which is a form of pale lager. US people recently tend to appreciate more the individuality and character of craft beers produced by small breweries mostly founded since the 1980s. The indigenouos beer styles in the United States include amber ale, cream ale and California common.
New craft styles include American Pale ale, American IPA, India Pale Lager, Black IPA, American „Double” or „Imperial” IPA. These beers contain less preservatives and have more complex and richer flavors, which quality is due to the higher hops content. Hops is a natural preservative, so some crafts beer admirers claim that these beers have more health benefits. Local production and interesting packaging are further advantages of this style.
6. Russian River Brewing Company
The original brewery (Russian River Brewing Company, RRBC abbreviated) was founded by Korbel Champgane Cellars in Guerneville near the Russian River.
In 2003 the company offered the rights to Vinnie Cilurzo and his wife, Natalie, which meant a big change in style. They turned the company into a Brew pub and they support now charity funds and local music bands. The demand became huge, even bigger than the supply. But quality is more important than quantity for them.
Vinnie won many awards and he is the first brewer who made a Double I.P.A. commercially. The couple is together since 1990, which is a huge achievement! Natalie’s favorite quote is “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!”
Traditional aggressively hopped California style ales, Belgian inspired ales and barrel aged beers are in focus at the brewery. The beers include poetic labels as Blind Pig, Pliny the Elder, Damnation, Beatification, Supplication, Rejection, Salvation and many more.
5. Dragon River Brewing Co.
The company was founded in the mid-90’s by Bruce Greene with a proud philosophy of passion and integrity.
Dragoon is a self-distributing draft-only brewery brewing about 30 different beers trustworhily to stricts standards. Some beers are brewed annually, while others are bottled more than once in a year. Speciality Release beers are produced in single batches and are sold out quickly.
They use regional ingredients as localy grown wheat in „Ojo Blanco” and „Half Moon”, Blue Corn from New Mexico in „Saison Blue” and locally malted mesquite-smoked malt in „Scout Porter”. „Loonie” is the newest craze with beautiful golden color and bready, honey-filled aromas. The beers can be purchased in 4-pack cans, crowlers, growlers (filled in front of you, so you can know that it is fresh) and kegs.
4. Bell’s Brewery
The foundation of the brewery dates back to 1983, when Larry Bell opened a home brewing supply shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The first beer was sold in 1985.
Bell’s is engaged for robust, full-bodied crafts beers to resist against the mass production of domestic beer. He recognized the growing demand of craft beers and quickly used up the opportunity: he expanded into new markets. Actually he sells beer in 23 states, which may be considered a serious accomplishment.
The brewery puts a big emphasis on sustainability, which -according to them- means more than simple words as „green” or „environmentally conscious approach”. Modern impact reducing technologies used by Bell’s include a sedum green roof, a light colored exterior membrane and a Highway program, which means that employees pick up 50-60 bags of trash along the local highway.
Energy efficiency, recycling and the economic use of water are also important aspects of their attitude. The majority of their beers are seasonal (like Oberon Ale, Best Brown Ale and Winter White). Midwestern Pale Ale, Porter, Kalamazoo Stout, Third Coast Beer, Oarsman, Amber Ale and Two Hearted Ale are available year round.
3. Great Divide Brewing Company
The Denver based brewery was founded by Brian Dunn in 1993, after his graduation. He grew up in a family which really appreciated good food and drink.
He spent 5 years building farms in developing countries. He brews flavorful, well-balanced beers. With help from his family and friends his dream has been fulfilled in 1994, when the brewery became to function commercially in 1994. The production started in a small size, and Dunn was the only full-time employee in the beginning.
As the gorth began, the beers got character and individuality: balance, full flavors were speaking for themselves. You can get a real taste of Colorado, if you try these beverages.
The company gets bigger and bigger, growth seem to be unstoppable, the space needs to expanded again and again. Bold Character is the term which best describes the philosophy of Great Divide.
Environmetal consciousness is really important for the brewery: donation and recycling is vital part of the working process. Great Divide Beers earn 18 Great American Beer Festival Medals, 5 World Beer Cup Awards, and 14 spots on Beer Advocate’s „Top Rated Beers: Colorado” (2015).
Here are some of the beer labels they produce: Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti, Colette Farmhouse Ale, Claymore Scotch Ale, Denver Pale Ale, Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, Hercules Double IPA, Ruble IPA, Hibernation Ale, Yeti Imperial Stout and many more.
2. Toppling Goliath Brewing Company
This beer is considered as one of the best in the world. Clark and Barb Lewey founded the Goliath Brewing Company in May of 2009, after giving up hazardous experiments which were pursued in Lewey’s garage.
The nanobrewery is located in Decorah, Iowa. The 10-barrel system can not be up with the rising demand in the surrounding country. The products are circulated through NE and central Iowa, and SW Wisconsin. The beer styles produced by Toppling Goliath are California Common lager, hop forward ale, double IPA’s, barrel and wood aged beers and imperial stouts.
The beers bring home awards in various categories, so the producers can be really proud. “We’re trying to challenge flavor profiles constantly and see how that resonates with ourselves and the people who enjoy our beer,” claims brewmaster Mike Saboe, who thinks there is still a lot to do for achieving the perfect beer, if this is possible at all. Anyway, one has to strive for it constantly, and try to push the limits and improve.
1. Hill Farmstead Brewery
Hill Farmstead Brewery is the fruit of a long period of experience, insight and discovery. The brewery’s heritage has a 220 years long story in North Greensboro, Vermont.
The brewery rests upon a land which was owned by the great grandfather of the current owners, who’s name was Abner (1867-1953). They are probably the most avowed brewery in the world now, and it is definitely not easy to get a bottle of this special beverage.
Moreover, if you live outside The Green Mountain State, your chances converge to 0. But if you take the trouble and you travel to Vermont -this beautiful place with an astonishing indian summer-, you can taste this delicacy in the local beer bars in Burlington, Waterbury and Montpelier. Hill Farmstead is available in bottles and growlers at the brewery and at restaurants and bars in Vermont.
They have four beer series: Ancestral Series (Abner Imperial Pale Ale, Anna, Arthur, Biere de Norma, Clara, Dorothy, E. etc), Philosophical Series (Beyond Good and Evil, Birth of Tragedy, Civil Disobedience, Conduct of Life etc.), Single Hop Series (Amarillo Single Hop Pale Ale, Double Galaxy, Mosaic Single Hop Pale Ale etc.) and Singular Series (Juicy and Mimosa). Besides these they also have collaboration beers, and Grassroots brewed beers.
Our exciting journey in the world of American beers has ended by now. I hope you enjoyed it, and it made your mood to explore the field of wonderful Ales and Stouts of this country. Vermont seems to be a really interesting and beautiful place.
I would travel there to taste around and soak the mood of the cherry-wood forests during the indian summer. That would be a good project. So adventure now, take your boots on and try these American marvels!