1. Dogfish Head
Dogfish Head Brewery is a brewing company based in Milton, Delaware founded by Sam Calagione.
The brewery was featured prominently in the documentary Beer Wars, and is the subject of the Discovery Channel series Brew Masters.
Dogfish Head tends to produce experimental or “extreme” beers, such as their tongue-in-cheek “Liquor de Malt,” a bottle-conditioned malt liquor which typically comes in its own brown paper bag. Their products often use non-standard ingredients, such as green raisins in their “Raison D’Être”. Some of their beers, including the WorldWide Stout, 120 Minute India Pale Ale, and the raspberry-flavored strong ale Fort, are highly alcoholic, reaching 18% to 20% ABV (typical beers have around 3% to 7% ABV).
Personal favorites include the Worldwide Stout and the 120 Minute IPA.
2. Stone Brewing Co.
Stone Brewing Co. was founded in 1996 by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner in San Marcos, CA. Home of Arrogant Bastard Ale, this is a brewery with aggressive beer. Currently distributed to 36 states (plus Washington, DC), and a small amount exported to the UK, Sweden, Japan, and Singapore, Stone is now the 14th largest craft brewery in the United States (2011).
Personal favorites include the Stone Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout (pitch black with a deep tan head, with aromatic notes of anise, coffee, and cocoa, ABV 10.5%) and the Double Bastard Ale (ABV 10.5%)
3. Southern Tier
In operation since late 2002, Southern Tier Brewing Company of Lakewood, New York, has produces nearly 50,000 barrels of beer annually. The hand crafted ales are now available in more than half of the United States, as well as parts of Australia, Denmark, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, Ontario, British Columbia, and the United Kingdom.
More recently, Southern Tier’s classic India Pale Ale ranks amongst the seven top beers of 2010 as declared by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. In an article describing the 2010 American Craft Beer Festival, the Massachusetts Daily Collegian declared Southern Tier’s Oak Aged ‘Unearthly’ Imperial IPA to be their favorite brew at the event.
Personal favorites include the seasonal Pumpking (ABV 8.60%), which also has Beverage Underground saluting it, and the Chicagoist naming it “Beer of the Week” for its robust pumpkin flavor.
Sixpoint Craft Ales, a favorite at BuzzFeed, was founded in 2004 by Shane Welch, a former homebrewer who originally grew up in Milwaukee. The microbrewery is located in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Sixpoint began business by only distributing kegs to local bars and restaurants. They began canning their beer in June of 2011 releasing 4 varieties in packaged format (Sweet Action, Righteous, Bengali Tiger and The Crisp). They also began releasing seasonals such as Autumnation and Diesel stout.
Personal favorites include Resin (9.1% ABV), just released in February.
5. Victory Brewing Company
Victory Brewing Company opened its doors to the public on Feb. 15, 1996. Founders Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski both studied brewing in Munich, and their brews emphasize quality and whole hops.
Personal favorites include the Hop Devil (6.7 ABV).
6. Kelso of Brooklyn
Kelso of Brooklyn (whose name is an amalgamation of Kelly Taylor and Sonya Giacobbe, the brewmaster and his wife) is one of the lesser-known Brooklyn beer brands—for now. Considering how popular its beer is becoming, however, that’s not likely to be the case soon. Those who take a chance on this brew at one of the dozens of bars where it’s carried in Brooklyn and Manhattan don’t regret it, which is probably why Kelso beers are popping up on more and more taps across the boroughs, including New York staples Shake Shack, the City Bakery and Galapagos Art Space. And the beer won’t be the only thing that leaves a good taste in your mouth—a big part of the brewery’s mission is to be as sustainable, environmentally-friendly and waste-free as possible.
Personal favorites include the Chocolate Lager (6.5% ABV).
7. Founders Brewing Company
Founders Brewing Company is an award-winning craft brewery located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Since its opening in 1997, Founders has garnered a great deal of national and international acclaim, with several notable beer websites ranking it among the top breweries in the world.
The Founders Family, a group of passionate beer enthusiasts, has grown around this simple philosophy: “We don’t brew beer for the masses. Instead, our beers are crafted for a chosen few, a small cadre of renegades and rebels who enjoy a beer that pushes the limits of what is commonly accepted as taste. In short, we make beer for people like us.”
8. Rogue Ales
Rogue Ales is an American craft brewery founded in 1988 in Ashland, Oregon. The following year the company opened their second brewpub in Newport, Oregon where they are now headquartered. They operate brewpubs in Oregon, Washington, and California. Rogue exports throughout the US and internationally. Rogue Ales have been described as “invariably fun and full flavored”. You may have heard of people salivating over the Voodoo Bacon Maple Ale (6.5% ABV).
9. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was established in 1980 by homebrewers Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi.
Located in Chico, California, Sierra Nevada Brewing is one of the top craft breweries currently operating in the United States. Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale is the second best-selling craft beer in the United States, behind the Boston Beer Company’s Samuel Adams Boston Lager. It is currently the sixth-largest brewing company in the United States.
10. Harpoon Brewery
Harpoon Brewery is an American microbrewery founded in 1986. As of 2010, it was the ninth-largest craft brewery and 16th-largest overall brewery in the United States.
The brewery is best known for its Harpoon India Pale Ale. It brews five other year-round beers: the original Harpoon Ale, the award-winning Munich Dark, UFO Hefeweizen, UFO Raspberry Hefeweizen, and Harpoon Brown, its latest creation.