Due to the resurgence of the commercial craft brewing industry in the 1980s, the United States now features many beers, offered by over 1400 brewpubs, microbreweries and regional brewers.
To help get you started in your quest to Drink American, here is a list of the top six craft and microbreweries according to the Brewers Association of Boulder, Colorado.
1. The Boston Beer Company, brewers of about 20 different varietes of Samuel Adams, is probably the best known “craft brewer” in the United States (and is, in fact, the largest). Sam Adams beers are “contract-brewed” meaning, they are so large that not all of it comes from one brewery. Hence, Sam Adams can be found nationwide. With a name like Samuel Adams–an American patriot famous for his role in the American Revolution–it is one of your best beverage choices for patriotic consumption this Fourth of July. For a hot summer weekend, try Sam’s Summer Ale, Sam Adams Light, and the original Sam Adams Lager.
2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, CA, produces almost 700,000 barrels of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale a year, making them the second largest craft brewer. They also have a Summerfest Lager this time of the year.
3. New Belgium in Fort Collins, Colorado–the third largest craft brewer–makes one of my favorites–Fat Tire Amber Ale. Though only in about 18 states, it’s worth looking for.
4. The Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, TX is the fourth largest craft brewer. They make Shiner Bock, a delicious German/Czech-style beer that is is now distributed in 41 states.
5. Pyramid Breweries of Seattle, WA, brews Thunderhead IPA, and a nice Kölsch summer seasonal called Curve Ball.
6. Matt Brewing in Utica, New York serves up the Saranac line of beers. A nice light option to replace Budweiser on Independence Day would be their Traditional American Lager (a.k.a. pilsner in most of the world).
And a six-more-pack of some of my personal favorites not in the top six:
1. D.G. Yuengling & Son, commonly called Yuengling, of Pottsville, Pennsylvania, is the oldest operating brewing company in the United States, having been established in 1829, and is one of the largest breweries by volume in the country. They produce, among others, the popular Yuengling Lager.
2. Shipyard Brewing Co. in Portland, Maine makes the fantastic Shipyard Export Ale as well as a Summer Ale that is slightly less hoppy, perfect on a warmer day.
3. Abita Brewing Co. in Louisana makes Abita Amber and Purple Haze for the warmer days and Turbo Dog for those cooler nights.
4. Anchor Brewing Company, in San Francisco, CA, makes the very popular and easy-to-find Anchor Steam as well as a seasonal summer wheat beer.
5. Magic Hat Brewing Company in Vermont, makes the easy-to-find-east-coast beer #9.
6. Pete’s Brewing Company of San Antonio, TX, makes Pete’s Wicked Ale, an American Brown Ale. One of my personal favorites–if I can ever find it again–is Pete’s Strawberry Blonde, a summer brew.