While sales are always a good indication of how popular something is, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the superior product.
I’m not even quite sure they have an accurate listing of Craft Breweries…judging from Boston Beer Co. tops the list. At #1 is Sam Adams really considered craft beer? I mean, really…by the Brewers Association’s own definition, craft breweries are “small, independent and traditional” and sell less than 6 million barrels per year. Well, Sam Adams achieved that around 1988…so I’m not sure why they are on the list. I may be a little biased, because I treat Sam Adams like a presidential election – it’s the best of the worst options when I drink it. They haven’t been “craft” in a very long time. But the rest of the list is quite impressive…
#2 – Sierra Nevada – They have some great beer, dominating their sales is the standard Pale Ale. It’s very good and you can find it everywhere. I love it on tap, out of the bottle is just okay by me. They also have their Torpedo Extra IPA and many other high quality options.
#3 – New Belgium – Another strong year in sales for NB! They have a lot of excellent selections, as well. Of course, Fat Tire is their best known, but don’t discount 1554 Black Ale, Sunshine Wheat and the fantastic Ranger IPA!
#4 – Gambrinus Company – Who, you say? They’re the makers of Shiner Bock! The great state of Texas loves it’s Shiner Bock. I honestly think that’s the only decent beer they make. I would tend to kick them off the craft beer list, like Sam Adams, because almost everything else they sell sucks…but, whatever…
#5 – Deschutes – This one is kind of surprising to me, but they do have a STRONG presence in the western states! I don’t think anyone east of Missouri can even get their delicious Black Butte Porter, Inversion IPA or Obsidian Stout! They make quite a few more and definitely belong on the list of good craft breweries.
#6 – Matt Brewing – Okay, so I’m no east coaster and have no idea what Saranac is…but apparently they sell the living crap out of their beers out there! BeerAdvocate only rates them a 77 / 79, so I’m in no hurry to find it.
#7 – Bell’s – I’m EXCITED about Bell’s selling so much! You want to know why? Because they probably make the best Brown Ale in the country – Bell’s Best Brown Ale. They’re not messing around – it’s rich, sweet taste is to die for…I need some, but don’t get it in my area. Now that I’ve read this, I may order a sixer… But, it’s not all about their Brown Ale, they make some incredible stouts, winter ales and my favorite outside of Best Brown is HOPSLAM!!! A delicious Double IPA that has 6 different kinds of hops added with a little bit of honey to balance it out. If you can get Bell’s…go…now…get some.
#8 – Harpoon – Again…must be an east coast thing, but at least I know UFO Hefeweizen. It’s a favorite “Fire Sale” at Flying Saucer…which may explain why I dislike it so much. There are so many good Hefe’s out there, but it seems they’re all from overseas…Weihenstephaner, Julius Echter, Schneider all make delicious ones. UFO is just…well, it’s a 78 on BeerAdvocate, so…there you go.
#9 – Lagunitas – Alright, now we’re getting into something I can get excited about again! Lagunitas makes an excellent IPA, which is starting to creep it’s way towards the east coast! Adding to that, they have Little Sumpin’ Ale, Maximus Double IPA and Hop Stoopid IPA…all high quality beers born of a love for the process…you need them in your life.
#10 – Boulevard – And now, here comes the major bias…full disclosure, I’m from Kansas City…Boulevard Country…THEY’VE MADE NUMBER 10 IN SALES!!! That’s badass…they’re biggest seller is without a doubt Unfiltered Wheat (please don’t put a lemon in mine…), followed up by Pale Ale, Pilsner and others. But what you may be REALLY missing out on is the Smokestack Series – 25.2 oz bottles (or now available in four packs in select locations) full of different, beautifully layered beers. Tank 7, scoring a 91 / excellent at BA, is one of my favorites. A Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale PACKED full of fruity, hoppy goodness. The Sixth Glass is also absolutely breath taking if you like complex, crazy beers…scoring a 90 by BA audience and a 100!!! by the Bros. I guarantee you haven’t had anything like this delicious Quad. If you consider yourself a lover of the finer beers and haven’t tried it, you need to find it. Last, but not least…Chocolate Ale – if you can find this GET IT…even if you just want to sell it to KC folks on eBay. Chocolate Ale lit the KC beer lovers on fire this Valentine’s Day, selling out EVERYWHERE, even with limits in place on how much one could buy. It was absolute madness. Made with divine Christopher Elbow chocolate, this ale is packed full of Dominican Republic dark chocolate nibs and crushed beans, fused with a malty flavor and texture that is out of this world.
So that’s the top 10…check out the entire list here and comment on your favorites. Not far behind are BestDamnThing favorites Stone (#11) and Dogfish Head (#12) Anchor (#22) and Bear Republic (#35)…
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