Saturday, October 04, 2008

American Beers and Breweries (and a little bit of autobiography)

It is only been in the past year and a half that I have come to realize that America does have some great breweries and produces some fantastic beers. Before this, I bought into the meme that almost all American beer is shit. And the fact is that like 50% of American beer sales (by vol) is from the Anheuser-Busch company alone (though is it still an American company?) - which absolutely does produce LOTS of shit: Budweiser and its derivatives (drinkable, but not really anything good about it), Michelob, Rolling Rock, Natural Light (bad beer flavored water), and Busch varieties (we're getting into the real shit).

Unfortunately, this is what a lot of Americans like. Maybe they've bought into the advertising campaign, maybe they just haven't experienced great beer, maybe they only drink beer to get drunk, or maybe they've dulled their taste-buds to the waterry sorta-beer-flavored macro varieties. You know that someone hasn't really learned to appreciate good beer when they think that Guiness (which I actually do love), Heineken, Newcastle, or Amber Bock are high-end beers (yes, I've actually had someone tell me that Amber Bock is high-end).

Nonetheless, the above is mainly what I drank until about the beginning of 2007. Then I fell in with the right crowd of people and started drinking some really good beer. I fell hard and fast for a good IPA (which is still my favorite type of beer), then I worked my way out to various types of stouts and decent APAs. I also started paying more attention to the breweries of some of my favorite beers. Below, which is by no means complete, I've listed my favorite American breweries along with some of my favorite beers from those breweries. A more complet list of great American breweries can be found here on Beeradvocate.

Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, CA) - My favorite! For my money, consistently the best of the type of brews I like the most. Pick anything up from them!
  • Ruination IPA (DIPA) - One of my favorites. Takes Stone IPA to the next level.
  • Stone IPA (IPA) - A solid IPA. If you want a good introduction to IPAs, start here.
  • Arrogant Bastard Ale (American Strong Ale) - Check out my review here.
Rogue Ales (Ashland, Oregon) - Excellent brewer. I've yet to try a beer I didn't like from them (though I still have a lot to go).
  • Shakespeare Stout (Stout) - Smooth, dark, and balanced. I've reviewed it here.
  • Dead Guy Ale (Maibock) - Sweet and flavorful, emphasizing malt and citrus flavor.
Three Floyds Brewing LLC (Hammond, Indiana) - They have some great brews, but they also have some real doozies (at least for my tastes). Choose carefully.
  • Alpha King (APA) - Light amber, with a delicious citrus and hops flavor.
  • Gumballhead (Wheat Ale) - Citrusy (mainly orange) complemented with hops. One of my favorite wheat ales.
Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown, NY)
  • Ommegang Abbey Ale (Dubbel)
  • Hennepin Farmhouse Saison (Saison)
  • Rare Vos Amber Ale (Belgian Dark Ale)
Bells Brewery, Inc. (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
  • Hopslam (DIPA) - VERY hoppy, and high alcohol concentration. One of my favorites for sure!
  • Two Hearted Ale (IPA)
  • Oberon (Wheat Ale) - Not the best brew in the world, but considerably better than most american beer. In the same class as Samuel Adams Boston Lager.
And lets not forget...
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (APA) - I can afford to drink this often, so I do. A great session beer. I've reviewed it here.

No comments: