Craft breweries across the country are growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, while Big Beer continues to see a shrinking market share year over year, craft beer continues to grow. It’s only natural that in order to cash in on this trend, big breweries are doing whatever they can. These efforts range from the creation of “craft-like” brands, such as Shock Top and Blue Moon, to the acquisition of actual craft breweries. Buying up craft brands has become incredibly popular, actually and with no Big Beer company more than Budweiser.
When you think of Orlando, chances are good you think of theme parks. That’s natural. The city’s home to Disney, Universal Studios, Sea World and a ton of other options. The most common reason to go to Orlando is to hit a theme park or two – it’s become one of America’s most popular family vacation destinations for just that reason. However, that’s not all there is to experience in town. There’s good news for foot-sore dads and those who either need a break from theme parks, or have no interest in these tourist-swamped locales to begin with – craft beer. Yes, the city of Orlando is home to a growing craft beer scene, and there are several craft breweries and craft brew bars located in town (20-25 and climbing). Here’s a closer look at a few that you should know.
These days, it seems like craft breweries are everywhere. Anyone with enough money and time to set up a garage brewery is trying to market their brews. The sheer immensity and diversity of the craft brewing world has led to some pretty interesting things – lots of innovation and plenty of options. Still, there are some craft breweries that are really gaining prominence here. Some are even giving big brewing a run for its money. Who are the top craft brewers in the US?
1. Boston Beer Co.
This one should come as no surprise at all. Boston Beer Co., the parent company of Samuel Adams, has long enjoyed immense prominence in the world of craft brewing. They currently rank as the largest “craft” brewery in the US, though too much more success might make them have to leave the “craft” portion of that behind.
2. Sierra Nevada
The second ranked craft brewery probably isn’t a surprise for most people either. Sierra Nevada has been around for a long time and they’ve earned a reputation for making some of the best beers in the world. While you might be most familiar with their Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, they do offer quite a wide range of options, including a very nice porter.
3. New Belgium Brewing Co.
Founded in 1991, New Belgium has grown considerably in recent years. Currently, the company is looking to expand their production to the East Coast (there are rumors that they’re going to western North Carolina or Eastern Tennesse). New Belgium offers a very wide range of excellent beers, with their 1554 Enlightened Black Ale and Fat Tire Amber Ale being two of their most notable.
4. Spoetzl Brewery
Located in Shiner, Texas, Spoetzl has been around for a very long time (founded in 1909). It is also the oldest brewery in the state, with distribution to almost all the contiguous states (41 and counting as of right now). Their Shiner Bock is probably their best known offering, though there are others.
5. Pyramid Breweries Inc.
Pyramid has only been around since 1994, but they’ve been pretty successful. That’s thanks in large part to their creative brews – Apricot Ale and Thunderhead IPA are only two of their options. Pyramid also has their hand in brewhouses and restaurants throughout Washington State, and is known as a leader in brewing fruit beers.
6. Deschutes Brewery
Deschutes Brewery comes to you out of Oregon. Their best known options include Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter, but their special “The Abyss” is also growing in popularity. It’s an imperial stout and features 11% ABV – it’s also won several awards for the company.
7. Matt Brewing Co.
Located in New York, this family-owned brewery has been around for some time. They offer a range of different beers, but they also produce sodas on their property. Those not on the East Coast will have a hard time finding their products in stores, but it can be managed at times (try special ordering from your preferred retailer).
8. Magic Hat Brewing Co.
Magic Hat might not be the best known craft brewery out there, but they’ve definitely got a following (they’d have to in order to rank 8 out of thousands). The brewery puts out four beers throughout the year and they spice up their offerings with some seasonal brews too. Their most well-known offering is their #9 beer.
9. Boulevard Brewing Co.
Boulevard got their start in Kansas City, MO. To date, they transport their brews to 20 different states, so you might have trouble finding a beer from Boulevard at your local watering hole. However, they’re ramping up their production capacity (up to 700,000 barrels per year capacity) and plan to expand their distribution so that might be changing pretty soon, depending on where you’re located.
10. Harpoon Brewery
Harpoon is located in Boston, MA, along with Boston Beer Co. They are intimately involved in the craft beer scene and overall culture of the city too – they’re sponsors of three different festivals during the year. Their best known offering is their India pale ale, though they do produce a range of other options, including their Munich Dark.
What’s Responsible for Their Success?
The 10 breweries listed above are only a fraction of the microbrews and nano breweries in the US. What’s responsible for so much growth and success? Interestingly, a large part of craft beer’s success in the United States has been the backlash against mega corporations and faceless beer producers. While Budweiser certainly still enjoys the lion’s share of the spoils (read: profits), the fact that so many small brewing companies are making it big speaks volumes about the average American’s willingness to not only try something new, but to embrace original, inventive brewers that produce their beer out of love and a sense of pride.
Who’s Up and Coming within the Industry?
Answering the “up and coming” question is difficult. There are so many great breweries that haven’t yet cracked the top 10 – breweries like Anchor and Sweet Water Brewing come to mind. Of course, there’s plenty of room for all in the industry. That’s one of the things that set America’s craft brewing scene apart from other nations’ – the spirit of sharing, camaraderie and a willingness to help others succeed rather than seeing them as direct competitors that need to be put out of business for your own success.
How long the industry will remain that way is open to interpretation. Obviously, competition breeds contempt for others, but so far America’s small brewers have been remarkably free of that. Only time will tell how the industry will transform and reshape itself over the years though. In the meantime, why not raise a pint or two of your favorite brews in salute to the amazing crafters at the helm of today’s small breweries and the spirit of invention that imbues those companies.
Travel is one of the most popular summertime activities. Families, couples and singles travel across the country for vacations and relaxation. Most of the time, the destination is chosen for what it offers in the way of activities and amenities – proximity to the beach, golf courses, mountain views, theme parks and the like. However, a growing number of travelers are choosing their destination not on how nice the beach is or on how tall a rollercoaster might be, but on what it offers in the way of craft beer.
Beer has been around since the dawn of history. Interestingly, several breweries still in operation have an immensely long history. Take the Rochefort Trappist abbey in St Remy-Rochefort for example. The abbey has brewed beer for almost 400 years and has become well known for its dark, rich brews (particularly for their Trappistes Rochefort 6, 8 and 10). Of course, the abbey has faced numerous threats during its long history, particularly from the threat of fire. It has been damaged by fire four times in its past with the most recent of which was in December of 2010.
This recent fire seems to have started in a building holding the abbey’s generators. The heavy snowfall and ice during December 2010 caused problems with power delivery, forcing the abbey to rely on their own power production methods to keep the brewery running. Battling the blaze took 70 firefighters several hours but it ended as happily as it could. None of the monks in the abbey were harmed (they were all evacuated safely), the library onsite remained intact and the brewery itself was also largely undamaged. Thankfully no beers were harmed; thank God (no pun intended).
The Rochefort Trappist brewery has actually been destroyed on two occasions in its storied career. The first time was in 1650, when the troops of Lorraine overran it. The second time was during the French Revolution. However, the abbey has always risen from the ashes of such events. Today, it’s one of just a few remaining breweries that produce Trappist beer in the world. This brewing style is considered one of the most exquisite in the world of beer and the St Remy-Rochefort abbey produces one of the strongest beers in the style, coming in at 12% alcohol.
What exactly is a “Trappist” beer? In order to be considered a Trappist beer, the beer has to be brewed inside a Trappist abbey. The abbey must be actively controlled by Trappist monks as well. In addition, the goal of the brewery must be community assistance, rather than a traditional for-profit model. There are only a handful of Trappist breweries still in existence, most of which are located in Belgium (where Rochefort can be found). There is one other abbey in Germany and one in the Netherlands. All but two of these were founded before the 1900s, though the Brasserie d’Orval and the Brouwerij der Sint-Benedictusabdij de Achelse Kluis were founded in 1931 and 1998 respectively.
Most people tend to look askance at cracking open an ice cold beer first thing in the morning. However, Moa Brewing in New Zealand is looking to change all that with the debut of their “breakfast beer,” Moa Breakfast. The brew is a cherry flavored wheat beer specifically designed to take the place of champagne in a champagne breakfast (or a champagne brunch).
Ask any beer lover and you'll learn that water is an essential ingredient of beer – there's simply no replacement for it. However, water is also one of the most important substances on the planet and finding ways to conserve water is vital. Many areas of the globe suffer from water shortages, and many companies have stepped up to help curb water waste.
Redhook is one of the founding breweries in the craft beer industry, and the company is coming up on their 30th anniversary. It's difficult to believe that it has been 30 full years since they first started brewing, but it's true. For their 30th birthday, Redhook wants to go back to the basics – they're changing things up, and it's for the better.
When you think of Boston, chances are good that you think of the Celtics, or maybe cream pies. For those acquainted with the craft beer industry, you might think of Samuel Adams, as well – Boston Brewing Co. is one of the best-known microbreweries in the nation. However, did you know that Boston is a craft beer Mecca?
Seattle is the home of eternal rain and the Space Needle; however, you'll also find that the city is home to a number of great beer spots. If you're going to be in town (or already live here), then you should certainly know the best place to get an excellent brew. One of the preeminent local spots to enjoy a great beer and a good time is over at Brouwer's Café.