If you would have asked me this question 10 years ago I would have shotgunned an answer super easy:
1: New Belgium
2: Shock Top
3: Blue Moon
4: Rolling Rock (guilty pleasure)
5: Stone Brewing
Wait, wait, wait! Before you click the back button or change the page it’s because I was new to it all.
In college I was broke, I bought a LOT of Ro-Ro’s(Rolling Rock). $10 for a 24 pack? Can you beat that?
My college and current best friend is a huge BudLight fan. And, me and BL had a couple good times together as a result.
New Belgium is EASILY my introduction to craft beer…if not also:
Shock Top – which was so cool and unique when I first had it.
Stone Brewing – well, I grew up next to Stone Brewery, even have a bottle of barley they gave all the neighbors when they expanded their brewery.
And, Blue Moon… It was light and tasty and they served it with an Orange Slice.
Nothing wrong with any of those beers though. If you like then – more power to you! I’ve spent the past decade honing my sense of smell and tastebuds and trying to find things “I” like. Things for me. So this list is what I consider my top 6 breweries that I am aware of. And, after much thinking I’ve come up with these(in no particular order):
I think I can only say I “think” these are my top 6. I have plenty of runner ups, but these right now are what I appreciate.
Hofbrauhaus… I mean, I can’t say how quickly that shot up the list. I’d always had their beers at parties or gatherings of friends and thought of it as the somewhat milder beer that was quick to be sold in 12 packs… Then I went to Munich. And I went to THE Hofbrauhaus. And I learned what it meant to Munich. Did you know that HB Haus potentially could be the reason there is still a Munich today? Or, that Hofbrauhaus has been using the same strain of yeast for 400+ years? Incredible. And, dont get me started on actually being in the HB hall. What an experience!
Sierra Nevada – because they perfect the style they sell. SN Pale Ale is EASILY one of the most accessible beers for anyone to drink but it is so finely made. The light use of hops give you a taste of the bolder brother Torpedo without bombarding the hop-fearful with a bitterness they cannot handle. A nice balance and truly smooth beer.
Chimay – I went through a HUGE “trappist” curiosity about 4 years ago. Ive had almost all of them. I even went through a rigorous 2 or 3 week planning phase where I was planning on doing a trappist brewery tour. In retrospect, I dont know if it would have been as exciting or as informative as planned, but even today it still is on my bucket list…somewhere in the middle. As far as trappists go, I have always thought Chimay’s Grande Reserve – the blue bottle – is one of the finest Belgian style ales available. It is smooth, powerful, easy and tasty.
The Bruery are artists. I don’t enjoy all of their offerings but the ones I do enjoy (white oak, cacaonut, mischief) are fantastic. I like knowing that there is serious thought and experimenting put into the beers before they offer them to the public. It is good to see this kind of beer craft in SoCal.
Dogfish Head Dogfish Head makes 3 or 4 things I LOVE. I’ll list what i can remember:
60 Minute IPA
61 Minute IPA
90 Minute IPA
120 Minute IPA
But, in all seriousness they make some great stuff… Not all of it, but a lot of it. The Punkin Ale is an amazing seasonal Pumpkin Ale. The Midas Touch is a great experiment in trying to replicate a thousands year old recipe. Almost everything they do is done balls to the wall… but that doesnt necessarily mean it is the best. I am mostly alone amongst my beer geek friends in not enjoying Barleywines or Strong Ales. My argument of course is that I like tasting the beer and the fermentation more than the booziness. DFH makes a Palo Santo Marron barleywine style that is 12% abv and everytime I drink it I think of vinegar and beer. I just *cant* get used to it. But, I digress…
Victory I discovered more on accident. I was looking for a good Pils style beer. I’d finished up with Pislner Urquell and Mama’s Lil Pils (both ok by the way). Philidelphia’s Victory makes a hoppier pils which is just fantastic. It’s slightly fruity, hoppy, smooth and crisp. It is one of my favorite beers to just have on a long day after work. And then, they make other things as well. They make a nice IPA(but I still prefer 90 minute IPA or Bear Republic Racer 5). But, right now I enjoy everything I’ve tried from them – though my Victory market is somewhat limited in SoCal.
What about yours and why?
Next up… Top 6 IPA’s.