Microbreweries are also called craft breweries and all that means is that the company is producing small quantities of beer versus the production line beer brands that used to be the most popular.
Microbrews are now giving “those guys” a run for their money and we can see why after researching a list of hundreds of successful microbreweries across the country. It has become a trend and beer lovers across the nation are enthralled with this new and ever-changing industry. From chocolate beers to fruit-flavored, we are never sure what the beer meisters might think up next.
Take a peek at our list of ten of the most super popular microbreweries in the country. We didn’t add Samuel Adams or Sierra Nevada, although they started out as many of these did – small. We’d rather give you a taste of some of the regional brews that are starting to sweep the country.
10. Rogue – Oregon
Rogue recently won the Distillery of the Year Award at the World Beverage Competition in Geneva, Switzerland, which certainly says something about this brewery’s quality. The company has created over 40 beers, ranging from Juniper Pale Ale and Mocha Porter to some pretty wild combinations such as: Voodoo Doughnut Pretzel Raspberry & Chocolate Ale, Rogue Farms Marionberry Braggot and the popular Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale.
The company proudly promotes their “ground to glass” operation, which means they are self-contained and in control of everything with the exception of Mother Nature. Yes, that means they have their own farms and “grow, pick, sort, kiln, cool and bale” their own hops.
A couple of notes: Rogue was the first U.S. micro brewery to sell beer to Japan. Founder Jack Joyce, who remained committed to his goal through Rogue’s history, passed on earlier this year.
9. Deschutes Brewery – Oregon
Deschutes Brewery was founded in 1988 in Bend, Oregon and distributes its most popular beers in over 20 states. Gary Fish started the company by opening Deschutes Brewery & Public House and grew so quickly that by its fifth year they moved to a 16,000-square-foot facility to meet the constant demand.
Currently, they brew over 20 flavors including favorites like Black Butte Porter, Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Inversion IPA, all of which are made all year round. Every great brewery has its seasonal ales, and Deschutes certainly has theirs with the Red Chair NWPA, Twilight Summer Ale and Jubelale. The brewery still operates a couple of brew pubs in Bend and Portland so enthusiasts can enjoy the on-premise experience.
8. Left Hand Brewing Co. – Colorado
In 1993, Dick Doore began his love for brewing beer after trying a home-brew kit gift from his brother. A year later, Doore and college friend Eric Wallace opened their own company after purchasing what was a meat-packing plant a bit outside Longmont, Colorado.
Sawtooth Ale was one of the company’s forerunners and is still on the top of the popularity list for this brand. After merging with Tabermash Brewing, the company doubled in size. The brewery continues to grow so quickly it is constantly expanding its capability to meet demand. Currently, Left Hand brews over 30 flavors, which includes seasonal and limited brews. Their more popular year-rounds include 400 Pound Monkey IPA, Black Jack Porter and Milk Stout Nitro. If you live in one of the 26 states in which Left Hand is distributed, you’re in for a treat.
7. Flying Dog Brewery – Maryland
The story started when a group of friends decided to climb the second highest mountain in the world and had a series of problems on this treacherous journey. When the perilous journey ended, they rejoiced while drinking and noticed a large painting of a dog that looked like it was flying. Thus the name.
Frederick, Maryland is the location of the current Flying Dog, although it was founded in 1990, in Aspen, Colorado when George Stranahan opened the Flying Dog Brewpub. After about a decade, the company merged with the Frederick Brewing Company that was making the Wild Goose brand, and moved the bulk of the operations to the Maryland location.
Currently the company brews over 20 beers, including their year-round Blood Orange Ale, The Truth Imperial IPA, Raging Bitch Belgian-style IPA and Flying Dog Ale.
6. Ballast Point Brewing Co. – California
Jack White and Yuseff Cherney started this distillery in San Diego, California in 1996. It was started in the back of a home brew retail store and grew very quickly. It’s currently in the top 50 micro brewed beers in the country and also the only brewery that is also a microdistillery. It also produces gin, rum, vodka and whiskey, so its business model is somewhat unique to the industry.
With over 20 beers on the market, the most unique line is the Homework Series, which offers a hoppy red ale, Belgian style double India pale ale and a English-style India pale ale. The company also provides a date-stamp guide which helps enthusiasts buy the freshest beers available.
5. Harpoon Brewery – Massachusetts & Vermont
Founded in 1986 as the Mass Bay Brewing Co. by Rich Doyle, who had put together the business plan while going to Harvard. Doyle was inspired by the variety of available beers in Europe and partnered with Dan Kenary and George Ligeti, who shared the same dream. Harpoon got into the picture well before small, local breweries started becoming the popular industry it is today. So by 1996, the company went from brewing 7,200 barrels to over 55,000.
In 2003, the company purchased a new brewhouse made in Germany and once assembled in the Boston facility began producing an even higher quality product. Well past the 100,000 barrel count, the company is now 28 years old and is one of the largest craft breweries in the country. Harpoon’s most popular product is India Pale Ale, although they brew 13 year-round flavors, UFOs and seasonal brews.
4. Stone Brewing Co. – California
Stone Brewery was founded in 1996 in southern California by Steve Wagner and Greg Koch. By 2012 it was the 10th largest craft brewery in the country and 17 largest brewery overall. Currently Stone enjoys its “world class” rating, which was given by two of the largest niche ezines, RateBeer and BeerAdvocate.
The company continues to remain popular and grow quickly. Stone brewed over 200,000 barrels in 2013 and opened a second Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, a 23,500 square foot facility that can seat up to 700, in San Diego. At the end of last year a small beer bistro was opened in one of the terminals at the San Diego International Airport. The company has also opened stores in the local southern California vicinity.
One of the things that beer lovers like about this brand is that many of its brews have a higher alcohol content (4.4% to 13%), than the industry standard. Stone Pale Ale was its first product and as many flagship products, it continues to be a big seller. There are eight other year-round beers, six special releases, an anniversary and Vertical Epic ale series.
3. Bell’s Brewery – Michigan
Kalamazoo, Michigan is the home of this popular brewery. It could have something to do with the fact that the city is the home of three different colleges. Talk about a captive audience. Bell’s Brewery was founded in 1983 by Larry Bell, who incorporated the business in the name of The Kalamazoo Brewing Company, Inc. The business was initially a home-brewing supply store. Two years later, it started brewing its own to the tune of 135 barrels that year.
Decades later, the company has two brewing facilities, the second in Comstock, Michigan (2003) and by 2005 the company’s name changed to Bell’s Brewery, which better fit in with the other creative brewery names of the growing industry. Currently there are eight year-round flavors, four seasonal and almost 40 specialty beers.
This beer is also given a very high world-class rating.
2. Dogfish Head – Delaware
Dogfish Head was established in 1995 in Milton, Delaware by founder Sam Calagione. Its fast-growth history says a lot about the popularity and quality of this brewery. It has been involved in media events, such as in a documentary called Beer Wars and highlighted in the Discovery Channel’s documentary Brew Masters. The other interesting note is Dogfish collaborated with the Grateful Dead band to create American Beauty pale ale and a pickle company called Brooklyn Brine that sells pickles with beer ingredients. Founder Calagione expands the brand’s reputation by reaching out to partners with other distinguished businesses.
The brand is known for using unusual ingredients, such as spirulina (blue-green algae), raisins, basmati rice and ginger. Currently, Dogfish Head brews nine year-round flavors, 25 specialty beers, four seasonal flavors and four beers for draft only.
Lagunitas Brewing Company has been around since 1993 and was the brainchild of Tony Magee, who established the company in Lagunitas but later moved it to Petaluma, California. Everyone loves Lagunitas for the flavor, but also for its irreverent and hilarious descriptions, stories and bad-boy attitude.
The company is one of the top five fastest-growing craft breweries in the country. Last year the Lagunitas Chicago facility was completed and with a 600,000 barrel capacity and a 250 barrel brew house, the beer started flowing in April of this year.
The nine year-round beers include ales and stouts. The nine seasonal delights, like Brown Shugga, are extremely popular. If you have any complaints or good comments, they encourage feedback at an email address called “do we suck”. We love it.
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