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What are your top 5 craft or world wide brewerys?

Normaly I do not like these types of questions due to peoples different tastes and preferences. Also in the fremented beverage market there are so many different types of products, anywhere from a light summer pilsner that you would drink after cutting the grass to a rich dark chocolate stout would would sip by a warm fire with your loved one. Since this the season of giving, it might be helpful to people who want to gift those of us who enjoy the zymurgical science to have a list of quality brewers to chose from. That way they would at be least in the right church if not the right pew so to speak.

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  1. Hard to give a top five as there are so many great ones out there so i will try and name 5 breweries where i like more than just a few of their products and would make great gifts.

    Russian River--I like everythign they make that i have sampled-a bottle of damnation in my stocking would make me very happy.

    Unibroue-I enjoy everyone of their complex beers brewed in the Belgian styles.

    Rogue- they make alot of styles, all good. Their bombers would make nice gifts. Shakepear Stout and Soba ale are two gems

    Westvleteren- fantastic Belgian brewery, you cant go wrong with these as gifts either.

    Stone-Aggressively hopped west coast brewery. This is my local beer. Arrogant Bastard, Oaked AB, or Double Bastard are all good and out of the ordinary. Theri smoked porter and stout are also very nice.

    man there are so many others that im debating changing the above to. Some other favourites of mine- Brooklyn Brwery, Deschuttes, Haacker PSchorr, Ommegang, Port Brewing, Franziskaner, Weihenstephaner, Anderson Valley, Dogfishhead, Bear Republic,

    1. Plzensky Prazdroj (Czech Rep)

      Deschutes (Bend, OR)

      Capital Brewing (Middleton, WI)

      Guinness (Dublin, Ireland)

      Boddington's (Manchester, England)

      1. What an impossible question!

        I guess based on what my favorite beers are, this'd be mine:

        Avery - Based out of Colorado, and they make a number of excellent Belgian styles. Impossible to go wrong with any of their stuff.

        AleSmith - Another brewer that makes amazing beers, none of which disappoint. Speedway Stout, Wee Heavy, and Horny Devil are some of their flagship brews.

        Stone - Smoked Porter, Ruination, and IPA are particular favorites of mine, though you can't go wrong with any of them.

        Trappistes Rochefort - They only make three beers, all variations on the same recipe, but they are excellent examples of Belgian trappist ale.

        Anchor - Most know their Steam Beer, but Liberty Ale, their seasonal Winter ale, and their porter are all great quaffs as well.

        There are many others worth mentioning, but you only asked for 5.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Josh

          I know I only asked for 5 but since you offered I would like to hear of others that you would reccommed. Thanks Wiener Hound

          1. re: 1 wiener hound


            Russian River - Another California brewer, they make a lot of great, unique, Belgian-inspired ales. Temptation is fermented with brettanomyces and aged in Chardonnay barrels. Supplication is fermented with cherries, brett, pediococcus, and lactobacillus, and aged in Pinot Noir barrels. Both of those are completely unlike any other beer I've had. Their double-IPA, Pliny the Elder, is also incredible.

            Alpine Brewing - Small San Diego brewer who makes perfect beers in every category. Impossible to find outside of San Diego, and hard to find IN San Diego. Double IPA Pure Hoppiness is amazing, as is the orange-peel and orange blossom honey-flavored Mandarin Nectar. Willy is a light American wheat that sometimes is flavored with vanilla bean, apricot, or raspberry.

            Hitachino Nest - Japanese microbrewer producing some unique brews. Red Rice ale is made with a combination of barley and red rice (each fermented seperately). Japanese Classic Ale is an IPA aged in cedar casks. Their White Ale is a textbook example of Belgian witbier, and their Lacto Sweet Stout is delicious.

            French Bieres de Gardes - This is a style, with many producers. Some good ones I've had include Castelain, Thierrez, and Sans Coulottes. It's akin to Belgian saison, but different. I always thought French beer sucked until I sampled these. One of my favorite styles, though hard to find. (Thankfully, my favorite local pub has several on hand)

            Traditional Lambic - as above, many producers to choose from. Oud Beersel unfortunately is no longer producing, but Gueuze Girardin is a great substitute. Drei Fonteinen's kriek is incredible, as is Cantillion's Lou Pepe kriek.

        2. Fantome - 1 man, small operation, hand bottled (at least they were when I visited in 2002), incredibly creative brews.

          Brasserie DuPont - great beers all around.

          Pizza Port - Very talented brewers doing some amazing things.

          Russian River - Vinnie makes some things no other brewer would attempt, and almost always makes something great.

          Spetziale - One of a handful of breweriess that are still their own maltsters. And they smoke it themselves too.

          That's a few off the top of my head...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Kevin B

            Interesting about Fantome. Reminds me of Alpine here in San Diego, another 1-man operation turning out incredible brews, hand-bottled.

          2. I've never tasted Stone and some of the others I'd love to try. But among those I have tried, the following are just extremely talented:

            THREE FLOYDS

            DOGFISH HEAD

            NORTH COAST

            GREAT DIVIDE

            1. 1) Brouwerij Rodenbach N.V. - Simply for their Flanders Red Ale. Outstanding (are there REALLY no apples in this?)

              2) Fuller Smith & Turner PLC - For everything that they do. Have never had anything other than an outstanding brew from them.

              3) Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu - The lager, the bock, the october, forget about it.

              4) Victory Brewing Company - Consistantly solid brewing (and the pizza at the brewpub is pretty good too).

              5) Unibroue Brewery - As (4) above but with just a hair less across the board.

              My choices are for brews or breweries that I have relative easy access to. There are many others that are my favorites.

              Big ups also to Young & Co's Brewery PLC for making Special London Ale.

              1. I should add Victory to my Top 5... Their Hop Devil IPA, Old Horizontal Barleywine, and especially Storm King Stout are all top-shelf.

                13 Replies
                1. re: Chicago Mike

                  I had my first Victory beers over the course of the new year's weekend - I bought a six of storm king. Holy flying yeast clouds! Absolutely amazing. I was blown away with how good that beer is on my first tasting (full disclosure - it was the last beer of the night and i was pretty excited about pretty much everything at that point). Then the next night I tried another at the beginning of the night - still amazing.
                  I had one more on sunday at the middle point of the night.
                  Then I had another last night while cooking dinner (garlic ginger jalapeno bok choy mushroom spiced potato corn tacos) and I am convinced that that beer is immaculate.
                  I cannot wait to try more victory beers (though i'm alittle nervous because i went to acouple places listed on their website as southern cal distributors but 75% didn't have any and the ones that did only had the storm king. i'm not complaining becuase i think the thing is amazing, but I'd really like to get my tongue on their other stuff now)

                  1. re: mr mouther

                    Go to Whole Foods, they stock Victory. I haven't had Storm King, but I love their Prima Pils and their Hop Devil IPA. The Hop Devil is more of an English-style IPA, not excessively hopped and really nice malt flavors.

                    1. re: Josh

                      I tried victory's golden monkey and hop devil this last week. the monkey wasn't so impressive, but the hop devil was a very nice drink. My only complaint, and this echoes a little bit of what chinon was writing about in the long thread about america's beermaking legacy: i wish the abv was smaller. Not only for that beer, but for a lot of the great craft brews in general. I don't always want a beer with an abv above 5% and it's very hard to find well-made craft brews without outrageous abvs.

                      The storm king, which i love, is 9.6%! I just don't need that much alcohol in one 12 oz. bottle.

                      1. re: mr mouther

                        Reducing the abv is really tough to do. Alcohol is a direct factor of the amount of the sugars (which are extracted from barley malt in most craft beers) in the wort. The more sugars available, the more alcohol that will be produced, to a point. The strain of yeast will also have a major affect, because it is the yeast that is fermenting the sugars. At some point of abv, every strain of yeast stops being able to produce alcohol. Most wines get to 12% abv or more.

                        But when you limit the sugars that are in a beer, you also better limit the hops, because the flavoring from the hops and malt needs to have some balance, and as you do this, you slide back further and further to light beer, which was originally made for people that did not like beer but wanted to answer a call of nature a lot.

                        1. re: Captain

                          Captain, I beg you, please do a pub crawl in London. Most of the beer is "light" if you're only considering alcohol content. Yet Milds and Bitters (3% - 5%abv) have not just wonderful and complex flavor but texture.

                          1. re: Chinon00

                            Sadly, I was in London on Oct. 30-Nov.3rd for business. Every pub I went into had beer pumps, but not a single beer pump was working! Depressing, huh?

                        2. re: mr mouther

                          Drink less! <g> Yeah, a "wise guy" answer, but, I, too, have found the ever-increasing ABV's to be distressing. It's one of the things I have to question about this new beer culture that's growing up around the craft beer/Beer Advocate world. (I recall someone posting somewhere on the 'net when some southern state raised the maximum alcohol level to above 6%- "Now we can buy REAL BEER!"- as if 4-6% beers weren't "real".)

                          Strangely, as the level of alcohol content has gone up, the size of bottles have gone up. The 22 oz. bomber that is standard for many beers/breweries (again, I see the influence of the BA's who are more interesting in increasing the number of different beers they drink, so don't want to "waste" it by having to buy and drink a whole six pack.)

                          And, as the bottles got larger, with draft beer the size of a serving of draft beer has increased. Do any bars sell "glasses" (sham pilsner 6-8 oz.) of beer anymore?
                          (I won't date myself by noting that a dollar used to buy 3 glasses of beer and 3 games of pinball...)

                          The standard used to be a glass of that size and maybe a mug of 10-12 oz. Now, a "pint" (granted, often only a 14 oz mixing glass, and even a true pint holds less that 16 oz. of beer with a head) is often "regular" with the option of a 22 oz. glass as a large.

                          Many times, I look in my beer frig for a single beer at night and find that it's full of single bomber bottles of 8-10% beer and I say, "Why do I keep buying these things?" <g> It seems the 7 oz. bottle never caught on in the craft field for these high alcohol beers - even the latest batch of Old Foghorn is in Anchor's normal 12 oz. bottles.

                          HopDevil actually was my "house beer" for many years and I found I had to concentrate in the beginning to "slow down" a bit -drinking out of a glass [if you don't already do it] is a must- it's better for the beer and it prevents "swigging" where you take in much more beer than you would sipping from a glass. So, if I might have had 3 bottles of beer before/with/after dinner previously, I might only drink 2 HD's.

                          It's a shame that the concept of a "less-than-5%" session beer just never caught on in the US. I think part of it is an economic thing- why pay the same money for a 4.5% beer when you could get a 6.5% one? Or spend another dollar or two for something in the 8-10% range. Kinda the "Malt Liquor" thought process for the beer geek.

                          Anyway, for "regular" strength beer, my choices are usually pilsners- Prima Pils (5.3%), Pikeland Pils (Sly Fox) and Jever (both 4.9%).

                          1. re: JessKidden


                            I often wonder what the heck i'm doing when i look in my fridge and see so many bombers, and all I want is one beer. I would love smaller sized bottles, and you're right: i am teaching myself to drink less.

                            That, and having north coast or lagunitas' pilsners, and also stone's pale ale in six packs.

                            I wish alesmith made their stuff in six packs...well, not really - i never have any problem finishing anvil ale bombers!

                            1. re: mr mouther

                              I wish AleSmith bottled Li'l Devil. It's my favorite in their lineup.

                              1. re: Josh

                                is the only place to get that at their brewery?

                                i did a back to back comparison of lagunitas IPA and Hop devil last nite and hop devil was much fuller. You can definitely taste the malt while the lagunitas is just sharp. Good sharp, but only sharp.

                                My favorite IPA is still alesmith's though: creamy, and with a ridiculously strong froth.

                                1. re: mr mouther

                                  Li'l Devil is sometimes available on draft at places like O'Brien's, Liars' Club and Pizza Port. It is available at the brewery as well.

                                  I like their IPA a lot, but I've been spoiled by having it on cask too many times. Hard to go back to the bottle after that.

                                  1. re: Josh

                                    I dont want to get ahead of myself, but if the Obrien's page currently up stays the way it is, I'll be able to try that very cask on Tuesday....!!!...so don;t drink too much of it this weekend!

                                    1. re: mr mouther

                                      I doubt that cask will last more than one day.

                  2. To all that have posted to this point.
                    THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
                    As Josh said What an impossible question? But y'all were up to the challange. You did as I asked and also did what I hoped which was if you had favorites in a particular brewry you named them.
                    I happen to be old enough to have started legally drinking beer in 1961. When you had PBR, Hey Mabel...,Baltz, National Bo. etc. and they really did not taste that good to me. But then I found that small little place that had Lowenbrau on tap. This was when Lowenbrau was a real German beer and had not been bought by an American Mass producter. It was so gooood. It had some flavor to it. It was more than yellow carbonated water. I am so thankful this country is finally getting over the effects of the hangover from Prohibition. I just love the diversity. Unfortunately, I live in one of the last states to keep the cap on ABV but everytime I travel I am a buying fool and my state is the poorer for it. Thank you for the recs and maybe we can attract some other converts to go buying and swelling.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: 1 wiener hound

                      As an aside, I haven't kept up with Lowenbrau lately, but do know that at least it's not brewed in the US any longer.

                      1. re: Jim Dorsch

                        That's correct, it's now brewed in Canada. The original Lowenbrau was actually from Zurich. Not sure if it even exists anymore - haven't seen it in a long time.

                        1. re: Josh

                          I thought the Canadian deal was history, but I could be wrong.

                          1. re: Josh

                            As a neophyte drinker of 18 or 19 back in the good old days I guess I thought if it was beer on the Continent it had to come from Germany thanks for the correction and the new info on the demise of Lowenbrau. At least she was removed from the cluthes of the apprentice brewers of the American Mass Producers before her demise.

                            1. re: Josh

                              Lowenbrau was never "bought" by Miller- they merely had a contract to brew the beer for the US market. At the time, such an arrangement was unusual in the US (other than Tuborg and a few others, and the legendary Burke's Long Island-brewed Guinness) but was quite common in the rest of the world (and it is now very common for US brands to be brewed overseas). Lowenbrau didn't have Miller's gun to it's head when it agreed to the deal- indeed, some reports (IIRC Michael Jackson's) say that it was Lowenbrau's failure to change the law so they'd be allowed to add adjuncts to export beer that led to the deal.

                              Current Lowenbrau labels in the US clearly state "Imported from Munich, Germany"
                              http://www.lowenbraubeer.com/ The Canadian, Labatt-brewed stuff was short-lived and obviously just a temporary deal between the ending of the Miller contract and the importation of "real" Lowenbrau.

                              There have been many different beers with the name "Lowenbrau" (Lion's brew/beer) over the years. The one from Zurich, which did try to gain sales during the US-made Lowenbrau era by stressing it's European origins- large "IMPORTED" on the label, etc- is in no way related to the the Munich brewer.

                              Seems I remember that the brand was dropped when Feldschlosschen bought the brewery/brand. Feldschlosschen, of course, did the same thing to Samichlaus after they bought

                        2. Agree that it is hard to choose, esp because not all beers from a brewery will be great. However, some that I have enjoyed:

                          Brouwerij 't Ij, Amsterdam: Micro in Amsterdam; Columbus and Vlo plus others

                          Augustiner, Salzburg: Not affiliated with the German version, only Marzen with the occasional Lenten and Bock.

                          Andechs, Andechs Germany: Dunkles and Dunkles bock and weizens

                          Rochefort, Belguim: 8 and 10 esp.

                          Green King, Suffolk England: IPA and Hens Tooth and others

                          1. Alesmith


                            North Coast



                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mr mouther

                              Actually, I need to take Lagunitas off the list and substitute Pinkus.

                            2. Fullers and Corsendonk are my two favorites. And the Corsendonk glasses are beautiful (if you're looking for gifts), though kind of hard to find.

                              1. This question is like asking me which are my five favorite body parts. How does one choose which is better, you arms, legs, liver, heart, pancreas, lungs, kidney, intestines, or brain. Is this a choice of which could one live without the easiest or a choice of which one gives you the most appreciative moments when you do have them. So without getting more pendantic and in no order, if forced to pick five, right now, they would be:

                                Kostrizer, because I could live off of the schwarzbier and sometimes have for a night and they do make some thoer styles;
                                Weihenstephaner, because they make some other German styles well;
                                Anchor, because Anchor Steam is a vital foodstuff and I can enjoy the porter and Liberty Ales; and
                                Sam Adams, whose beers I enjoy but none of them hit my top ten lis of beers. However, the wide variety of styles makes them a required choice. Even if they are hardly craft brewers anymore, it's a decent product; and
                                Samuel Smith so I can have a variety of styles from the British Isles, but none o their beers would hit my top ten list either.

                                If I had to live of this list, life without Guiness, some Blue Points, Pilsner Urguel, etc. would be worth much less.

                                1. My top five are:

                                  U Fleku - Prague
                                  Scheider Kloster - Augsburg
                                  Hasenbraeu - Augsburg
                                  Maredsous - Belgium
                                  Boreale - Montreal

                                  1. anyone tried the rogue beer from oregon, dead guy ale?

                                    1. I would say that it is too hard to choose 5 and say they are the best. I am a professional beer judge and I have been a professional brewer for more than 4 years. I would think that there are maybe 30-40 top breweries that put out better beer than the other 99% but it s all subjective within those 40. That being said I just got a new magazine on my doorstep called "DRAFT Magazine". (www.draftmag.com) it seems to be a great resource for people who would love to learn more about beers that are avail in America and breweries around the world. Only $20 for a subscription?! great deal!

                                      1. If I had to choose my own, I would say


                                        1. (aventinus is actually from schneider & sohn)
                                          1. schneider & sohn
                                          2. bells
                                          3. dogfish head
                                          4. live oak (local)
                                          5. hacker pschorr

                                          1. Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter, closely followed by Stone Ruination and IPA. I love a local beer (Tucson) brewed by Nimbus, but only available on draft and in town. It is called Old Monkeyshine and it is an English strong ale (8% ABV). Spaten Oktoberfest is also a nice one when in season.

                                            1. Boulder Brewing, boulder CO.

                                              They make an IPA (Mojo) and a dry hopped (Hazed and Infused) that are killer.

                                              Summitt Brewing makes a nice IPA too.

                                              1. living in florida hasn't enabled me to try most of the top 40 or so micros, but out of the ones i HAVE tried: bells (had this when visiting indianapolis - also enjoyed some goose island selections there), north coast and dogfish head are favorites.

                                                for import brewers, i like kuichi, schneider and traquair.

                                                ok that's six or seven, so shoot me. ;)

                                                1. Birkshire Brewing Company
                                                  Dogfish head
                                                  Samuel Smith
                                                  Green King Brewing

                                                  1. Great Lakes
                                                    St. Sylvester (3 monts)
                                                    Samuel Smith

                                                    1. Troeg's Brewing - Harrisburg, PA
                                                      Great Lakes - A picture of their brewpub