Roundtable Discussion: Best Brewery in America
Solid flagship beers.
You can’t be a phenomenal brewery without having great beer up and down your rotation. This means perfecting your core lineup e.g. IPAs, Stouts, Wheats, Ambers, Pilsners/Kolsch, Porters, Saisons, etc.
Inventive but more importantly, well done experimentals and seasonals.
It’s about the fans.
It’s also about the beer community as a whole.
Beyond the Beer
Cory – Port Brewing/Lost Abbey – With the lineup these folks are cranking out and the passion that these folks have for quality product, I would be remiss to say that I am not thoroughly stoked on just about everything they have put out. They have a lot of beer. Having only tried about half of what they brew, and never having a bad beer, this is my choice. My favorites are Board Meeting and Old Viscosity by Port and Cuvee de Tomme and Red Poppy by Lost Abbey. I have not been to the San Marcos location but I know what klout it holds and can’t wait to check it off the ol’ bucket list.
Lauren – Odell Brewing is on the top of my list. Their beers are always solid, plus with the pilot system they are always keeping your palate on its toes with a constant rotation of beers. The taproom can get crowded and loud, but it is where the locals go to see live music on Wednesdays, enjoy a meal from a food truck and good conversations with friends rather than get sucked into a giant tourist trap like their big neighbor. The staff is full of amazing people, from their pilot brewer Brent Cordle who helped me brew my own batch to their outreach coordinator Karla Baise who organizes their Odell Outreach volunteer opportunities, including The House That Beer Built project with Habitat for Humanity, to salesman extraordinaire Nico, and more http://napaofbeer.com/2013/05/16/the-sales-rep-a-backyard-and-the-middle-tier/. Keep up the good work Odells!
Phil – Best two breweries (that I have had the pleasure of trying) have to be Russian River and Firestone Walker. These are the only two breweries where I have really liked every beer I’ve had from them. There are a lot of breweries that make good beer that I will drink, but Firestone Walker and Russian River have an entire lineup of exceptional beers. If they come out with a new beer that I’m not familiar with, I will try it regardless.
Vic – Prairie Artisan Ales makes only a small amount of beers in just a couple allowing the brewers to focus on the highest level of quality control. Each batch is artfully crafted to perfection. On first sip, you will immediately understand why this brewery, to quote Wu Tang Clan, “ain’t nuthin’ to fuck wit”…
Jason – Both Dogfish Head and New Belgium would be at the top of my list. These seem like obvious choices, but they are sort of the model for what a brewery should do in terms of growth, sustainability, and quality. I enjoy all of New Belgium’s beers, as they are all quite drinkable, and a few are remarkable. Dogfish Head (as I mentioned in my last review) continually tinker and toy with recipes, ingredients, and brewing processes to make imaginative, interesting, and tasty beers. I may not always like the taste, but that is because of my personal preference, not a lack of care on the part of the brewer.
Mike – If you include the TOTAL PACKAGE, New Belgium Brewery. Without a doubt. They were an early pioneer in the craft brewing industry and helped pave the way for many others. They’ve seen huge success while managing to stay true to a set of progressive values; making them an outstanding example of corporate citizenship. They willingly pay more for their energy to ensure it comes from a clean source, much of which is wind based. They even re-purpose the methane yield from water treatment as an ancillary energy source. Employees are treated exceptionally well and share in an employee ownership program. As far as the beer is concerned, their standard offerings are solid even though they typically don’t stir much dust among the enthusiasts (I still love an ice cold 1554). However, the Lips of Faith series and limited releases regularly produce absolute gems that can stand strong among the craftiest of craft brews. For their ethical business practices, environmental stewardship, trailblazing history, AND great beers, New Belgium Brewery is the best brewery in America.