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10 Craft Beers for Spring

10 Craft Beers for Spring


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Spring is here, officially, even if it’s not yet in full effect some places, and that makes us thirsty. The season of flowers and long sunshine hours brings with it many terrific brews. Here are 10 beers we’re looking forward to enjoying this spring.

The Bruery Saison De Lente
Placentia, Calif.
This American brewery has never hidden its Belgian inspiration, and this easily drinkable yet complex farmhouse ale is no exception. Heard of Brettanomyces yeast, aka "Brett"? This beer is a perfect introduction to the funky flavors it produces and the way they complement hops, in a 6.5 percent ABV sip that won't knock you out.

Half Acre Daisy Cutter
Chicago
This West Coast style pale ale is usually served in a 16-ounce can. It sports a relatively low 5.2 percent ABV, but when it comes to flavor, it packs a punch. Some might liken its taste to chewing on pine needles, but if you like fresh, woody flavors, this beer will awaken your taste buds with springy pop.

Green Flash Palate Wrecker
San Diego, Calif.
This 9.5 percent ABV double IPA is aggressively hoppy and strong (per its name) thanks to 6 pounds of hops per barrel. Both Centennial and Columbus hops are used in the wort and also layered in during fermentation. Despite the strength, the flavor is popular — just don't pair it with delicate food and you'll enjoy your glass.

Founders All Day IPA
Grand Rapids, Mich.
The name is a reference to this session beer’s low ABV (4.7 percent) and the fact that you can probably get away with drinking it noon through night. That doesn't mean it's boring — anything but. Malts, grains, and hops combine for a complex-yet-easy sip.

Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot
Petaluma, Calif.
Not to be confused with the music group’s seminal album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, this 7.8 percent ABV ale is, per the label, "a malty, robust" imperial brown. Originally the name was going to be "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot," but the company was told the word "whiskey" is not allowed on a beer label. What?

Southern Tier Hop Sun
Lakewood, N.Y.
Unlike many wheat beers, which are subtle and simple, this one has a lot of kick and complexity. That's thanks to a batch of fresh hop flowers added after fermentation, producing a dry, picnic-perfect sip.

Boulder Kinda Blue
Boulder, Colo.
This American wheat beer has just a touch of blueberry flavor, since the purée is added during cold fermenting rather than during the mash (the common "fruit beer" technique). This ensures the fruit flavor isn’t overwhelming, making a refreshing brew perfect for patio sipping.

Great Divide HeyDay
Denver
At 5.2 percent ABV, this Belgian-style white ale is another session beer that lends itself well to day-drinking. Complex flavor from barley, oats, and wheat does not overwhelm, and hops add just enough sparkle so you don't get bored.

— Danya Henninger, The Drink Nation

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Top 10 best craft beers for summer

Summer is officially here and there's no better time to sit back relax, and have a delicious craft beer.

Jon Richards, a Cicerone Certified Beer Server at The Greenville Growler Station, knows a thing or two about a good brew. It's his job to taste more than three dozen beers each week and educate people all about one of America's favorite beverages. He's put together a list of the best beers for summer. And there's good news if you like the U.S.A -- all his picks are made in America.

Sit back, grab a cold one and let the good summer times roll.


We Asked 12 Bartenders: What’s Your Go-To Craft Beer?

Craft beer conjures up different expectations depending on whom you ask, but most experts agree that small, independent breweries making distinctive and innovative products define the category. Despite the media blitz extolling the craft cocktail scene, many bartenders can attest that foregoing a cocktail or a dram of whisky in favor of an ice-cold beer is often the greatest cure after a long and exhaustive night of service.

To find out which craft brews should be stocked in your fridge, VinePair asked drinks pros for their tried and true recommendations. Keep reading below for a list of beloved bottles, ranging in origin from western Wyoming, to Belgium.

The Best Craft Beers Recommended by Bartenders

  • Anything from Kona Brewing Company
  • Melvin Brewing 2ࡪ
  • Woodfour Brewing Company Bohemian Nectar
  • Other Half Brewing Co. Italian Clap
  • Elysian Brewing Company Space Dust IPA
  • Fiddlehead Brewing Company IPA
  • Anything from Common Space Brewery
  • Reaver Beach Brewing Company Hoptopus
  • Hitachino Nest Amber Ale
  • Middle James Brewing Company Highly Dramatic V.11
  • Brooklyn Brewery Black Ops (Four Roses Small Batch)
  • Brasserie Cantillon Saint Lamvinus

Keep reading for details about all of the recommended beers!

Every Beer Lover Needs This Hop Aroma Poster

“My go-to craft beer is anything from Kona Brewing Company. They have now gone mainstream because of their popularity, but I still consider them craft. They originated in Hawaii, and their beers are laced with sweet, tropical flavors which make their beer taste incredible. In the beginning, it was hard to find the beer in just any store, and many of the different types could only be found on the island. It has grown so much in popularity that you can find many of their beers in grocery markets, so ease of access makes this a natural go-to beer for me. I have tried many beers, but this is still the one I just lean to every time. Some of my favorites include Wailua Wheat (passion fruit flavor), Big Wave, Kona Light, Pipeline Porter (with Kona Coffee), and if you are lucky to find it, Lemongrass Luau.” —Piero Procida, Director of Food & Beverage, The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Calif.

“Melvin‘s 2ࡪ, because it is the best IPA I’ve ever had. Citrusy, malty, fruity, DIPA perfection.” —Joey Langlinais, Bartender, Hand Fire Pizza, Jackson, Wyo.

“Our go-to craft beer is from Woodfour Brewing at The Barlow: the Bohemian Nectar, a classic saison. They describe it as ‘a classic saison at the core featuring Belgian Pils and a touch of wheat malts. Dry-hopped with a gracious amount of Mosaic hops creates an intensely juicy tropical aroma. Crisp, quenching finish, sunshine in a glass.’” —Sam Levy, Co-Owner/Bar Director, Fern Bar, Sebastopol, Calif.

“I love my craft Brooklyn breweries, so I have to go with Other Half Brewing out of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. I’m a big fan of Boilermakers so would recommend pairing Other Half’s Italian Clap with a side of Fistful of Bourbon (or another bourbon of your choice). The Italian Clap is clean and crisp, and pairs perfectly with a bourbon’s full-bodied flavor.” —Anthony Bohlinger, Bartender & U.S. Ambassador, Fistful of Bourbon, Charlotte, N.C.

“With so many craft breweries to choose from in California, the possibilities exceed my own free time. If I don’t have the time to wait in line for the latest Pliny release, I can go to any local grocery store and can grab a 6-pack of Space Dust IPA made by Elysian Brewing out of Seattle, Wash. It has a perfect combination of bitter hop that delivers that classic IPA flavor, and juicy citrus notes that make it stand out from other beers on the shelf.” —Nick Madden, Bartender, Elixir, San Francisco

“My favorite craft beer is Fiddlehead IPA. It’s the perfect mix of dank hops with a touch of citrus, without overpowering bitterness. At 6.2 percent ABV, you can have a couple and still be on your feet. For me, Vermont IPAs are the best. Enjoy after an icy-cold but fulfilling day at Killington.” —Harry McNamara, Bar Manager, Urban Cowboy Lodge, Big Indian, N.Y.

“Recently, I’ve been drinking a lot from Common Space Brewery from Hawthorne, Calif. It feels like they popped up out of nowhere, but every offering I’ve had from them has blown me away. Quite a feat for a new brewery. I love supporting local and drinking well, and this scratches both those itches.” —Maxwell Reis, Beverage Director, Gracias Madre, Newport/West Hollywood, Calif.

“When I’m reaching for a craft beer, my go-to is always an IPA. And nothing quite hits that hoppy spot like a pint of Reaver Beach Hoptopus. This double IPA has a nice, hazy amber color and light citrus notes, but don’t let that fool you. It definitely packs a punch. Between the bitter hops and the 8.8 percent ABV, you won’t be disappointed!” —Harmony Salaam, Head Bartender/General Manager, Dough Boy’s Pizza, Virginia Beach, Va.

“Go-to craft beer would have to be Hitachino Amber Ale. Japanese craft beers have a great flavor profile that’s balanced with delicious aromas and body.” —Daniel Kwon, Manager/Bartender, SouthGate, Philadelphia

“My go-to craft beer nowadays depends on what I am eating or what I am doing. If I am eating, I like to be drinking V-11. It is a Highly Dramatic New England IPA from Middle James — a juicy beer with a nice body and tropical fruit notes like mango and guava. It goes very well with BBQ or loaded nachos. However, if I am sitting on the patio in the middle of the afternoon, I will want to drink a beer that is light, crisp, clean, and refreshing. I love a southern pilsner/Kölsch-style beer from Middle James named Fly Kid.” —Juan Fernandez, Food & Beverage Manager/Head Sommelier, The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Charlotte, N.C.

“I’ve been drinking richer beers lately, and I really enjoyed Brooklyn Black Ops Four Roses Edition. The one I had was current vintage, but I’ve been told it ages well. Lots of chocolate and coffee notes with hints of vanilla.” —Nick Pratt, Assistant General Manager/Bar Manager, Hojoko, Boston

“My all-time favorite go-to craft beer is Cantillon Saint Lamvinus, a blend of lambics aged on Merlot grapes from the Côtes de Bourg area. This has easily become not only my go-to, but my favorite beer of all time. With my wife being a sommelier here in Las Vegas, it brings together both of our passions and makes for a wonderful drinking experience every time. It pulls all my favorite parts of the Belgium beer with barnyard funk and slightly acidic backend, then adds in vinous elements with grape skin and a nice tannin quality. It’s wonderful for drinking solo or with dinner, and always follows with great conversation. I try to keep as many bottles on hand as possible!” —Chris Jacobs, Founder, Beer Zombies at SkinnyFATS, Las Vegas


India Pale Ale (IPA)

IPAs are the youngest style of the bunch, but probably the most popular in the US today. India Pale Ales are of a color similar (or slightly darker) to that of pale ales, but they have much more concentrated hop aroma and flavor. The style was originally created to survive transport from England to India (hence the name), so additional hops were introduced as a preservative—the oils help keep beer fresh for longer. Imperial IPAs can have up to twice as much malt, hops, and alcohol as a regular IPA. These bad boys clock in at around 7 to 9% ABV, versus the typical 5 to 6 percent. The assertive flavor of IPAs can cut through rich and fatty foods like red meat, cheese, and other strong flavors.


10 Bocks and Easter Craft Beers That Ring in Spring the Right Way

NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Spring is the beer industry&aposs most faceless time of year.

Without summer&aposs pilsners and wheat beers, fall&aposs pumpkin ales and Oktoberfest marzen or even winter&aposs dark porters and stouts or holiday spice, beer taps and aisles are set adrift with dramatic consequences. While brewers use this time to throw any red ale, porter, stout, IPA and bock they can into the ether, beer drinkers tune out.

The Treasury Department&aposs Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau notes that the U.S. beer industry makesꂫout 14 million or so barrels during February and between 15 million and 16 million during March. Even with a big boost from St. Patrick&aposs Day and college basketball&aposs March Madness, that March mark is still far less than the the 17 million to 18 million it brews during the peak months from June through August. Meanwhile, craft beer brewers rely on seasonal offerings to bolster their bottom lines and can&apost just have a whole season left open. As the Brewers Association craft beer industry group points out, sales of seasonal beer variety packs alone jumped 21% by volume in 2014.

Yet, for some reason, spring remains a mystery despite points in its history that very explicitly point toward certain beers as spring beers. The bock styles, dating back to the 14th century and the German town of Einbeck, were typically brewed during religious holidays including Christmas and Easter by Bavarian monks who used their “liquid bread” to get through seasonal fasts. Trappist monks in Belgium used a similar tactic in making their dubbel and trippel abbey beers, but the Bavarian tradition was carried across the Atlantic by German immigrant brewers and turned into bocks made by Shiner, Pabst and other traditional breweries. In Cincinnati, to this day, Bockfest still signals the arrival of spring.

With that in mind, we&aposve put together a 10-pack of seasonally appropriate beers that not only hold to the springtime traditions set forth by the Bavarian and Trappist monks, but maintain the seasonal standard set by brewers around the world:


The 10 Highest Ranked Craft Beers in America

America is arguably home to the largest and most diverse beer culture in the world. The beer industry in America that used to be largely controlled by two companies now exploded to over 6,000 breweries. The American public quickly and enthusiastically embraced the charm of these craft breweries: the dizzying possibilities crafted from water, hops, yeast and grain. With so many breweries creating unique and complex brews every year, it is quite a challenge to pick out the best out of thousands of beers, each with their own unique charm.

However, we believe it’s a worthy endeavor to highlight brews that have helped grow, define and push the American craft beer industry to new heights. Learning about (and tasting) these beers help you gain a better appreciation of the wonderful world of American craft beers.

Sierra Nevada – Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale really must be something if it was first brewed in 1980 and yet still maintaining its honor as one of the country’s best-selling beers year after year. And it is. This humble little recipe not only helped define the signature citrusy flavor of American IPAs, but it also helped propel the now-behemoth Sierra Nevada, a brand currently worth an estimated $1 billion.

To this day, the pale ale is brewed using the original recipe of lots of whole-cone Cascade hops and 100% two-row malt.

Russian River – Pliny the Elder

Despite being considered as an old school brew Pliny the Elder is one of the most sought-after double IPAs in the world. First brewed in 2000, this hop bomb cult favorite helped catapult the Russian River Brewing Company into one of the most renowned craft breweries in America. Craft beer devotees from all over the world reportedly make the pilgrimage to the brewery in Santa Rosa, California to taste the sweet golden nectar from the source.

Samuel Adams – Boston Lager

Boston Lager’s popularity is evident in its ubiquitous presence in beer lists across restaurants and pubs in America. This amber Vienna lager is a classic easy drinker, perfect for any time of the year and any occasion. Despite being a commercial darling, it stays true to its roots. It is still being brewed using the original recipe created by the owner’s great-great-great grandfather. Each bottle is keeping decades-old family tradition alive.

Goose Island – Bourbon County Brand Stout

Bourbon County Brand Stout pushed the limits of what craft beer could be. Initially shunned at the Great American Beer Festival in 1995 for being “too strong”, it is now being lauded for igniting the spark of innovation in craft beer. Today, barrel-aged beers are popular with aficionados all over the world. However, no one does it better than the original craft masters who started the trend: Goose Island. They age their heady Imperial stout in different bourbon barrels resulting to complex and innovative flavor profiles.

The Alchemist – Heady Topper

The Alchemist distributes its beer only within a 25-mile radius of its brewery in Vermont, but that didn’t stop it from becoming a global phenomenon. Thanks to enthusiastic word of mouth and beer rating sites on the internet, one of the brewery’s signature brew, the Heady Topper, gained a reputation as the “best beer in the world”. The hype over this satisfying citrusy double IPA also helped expand the craft beer scene to the East Coast.

Bell’s – Two Hearted Ale

Even though this beer was brewed since 1985, Two Hearted Ale is still a beloved offering of the famous Michigan brewery: Bell’s. Two Hearted Ale is a classic American IPA, featuring American Centennial hops and fruity yeast. The beer pours a hazy deep amber color with so much flavor packed into one refreshing bottle. You’d truly find it hard to stop at just one.

New Belgium – La Folie

A long time ago, sour beer was an oddity in a craft brewery’s catalogue, often popping up as an experimental release. Now, it is deemed essential to any beer bar’s selection. However, the waves to make this happen started way back. For New Belgium Brewing Company, it started in 1997, where they consulted an expert from Old Belgium to craft La Folie, a Flemish Style true sour foeder beer, aged in big oak barrels. This beer is a testament to the dedication and craftmanship of American brew masters.

Great Lakes Brewing Co. – Edmund Fitzgerald

Edmund Fitzgerald is a highly acclaimed beer. It won 12 World Beer Championships and five GABF medals and has earned domestic and international hype for the brewery: Great Lakes Brewing Co. The real prize is in the taste: the intense and exciting flavor profile of the beer. This brew offers a stunning blend of roasted barley and coffee beans layered with an intoxicating chocolatey flavor. One generous sip and you’ll understand why it earned its accolades.

Tree House Brewing – Julius

Julius, a hazy IPA which looks like orange juice to the uninitiated, is one of the most popular craft beers in the country. Craft beer lovers are clamoring to get a taste of this refreshing and juicy IPA, and the brewery is trying to keep up with the demand. In fact, the popularity of this brew and of Tree House Brewing led to its expansion to a multi-million-dollar facility, within the decade of its operations.

Toppling Goliath – Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout

This elusive barrel-aged coffee stout has consistently topped beer rating websites for years and is revered by many as the Moby Dick of the craft beer scene. Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout is crafted in Toppling Goliath’s brewery in Decorah Iowa. Only a limited number of bottles are released once a year, and beer nerds from all over the world travel to Iowa and stay in line for hours just to try to get a bottle. This brew is so desired that counterfeit versions are popping out.


10 Craft Beers That Aren't

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- As much as certain factions within the U.S. beer industry would like to portray it as a pitched struggle for hearts and minds between big brewers with bigger market share and small brewers just scraping by, the American beer marketplace is more like a high school cafeteria overrun with cliques.

There are the popular kids at

Anheuser-Busch InBev

MolsonCoors

, whose products get dismissed as pale and vapid by their detractors but still account for more than 75% of all U.S. beer sales. Then there are the imports who thumb their noses at American brewers even as sales of Heineken and

Guinness brand decrease stateside. Finally, there&aposs craft beer: the nerds and geeks who suddenly became the cool kids to hang out with, but whose clique keeps flexing the entry requirements based on who they like.

The queen bee of the craft beer set is the Brewers Association, the Denver-based industry trade group that brings together breweries, home brewers and local brewers guilds for cool parties such as the Great American Beer Festival and keeps track of growth within the industry. Oh, and it totally gets exclusive access to the industry slam book that dictates who is and isn&apost craft.

Boston Beer

produces more than 2 million barrels of brew a year -- more than Mike&aposs Hard Lemonade -- and makes malt beverages including Twisted Tea and Angry Orchard cider. They can&apost be craft, right? Wrong. The Brewers Association raised its "craft" production limit to 6 million barrels from 2 million just to accommodate its Samuel Adams brand.

have decades-old craft brewing roots in the Pacific Northwest and produce less than 700,000 barrels of beer a year combined. Surely they, as members of the

Craft Brew Alliance

, must be craft brewers, right? Wrong. Just as the Brewers Association revised production numbers to keep Samuel Adams in, it revised ownership criteria to keep Red Hook and Widmer out. By the Brewer&aposs Association&aposs standard, no more than 25% of a craft brewery can be owned by a brewery that is not itself craft. Anheuser-Busch owns a 32.2% stake in the Craft Brew Alliance and serves as its distribution partner.

In an attempt to clear up the craft beer picture a bit, the Brewers Association offered up its

statement on the topic last month, as well as

of "non-craft beers" as a guide for consumers. While intended to out "craft" poseurs such as Coors&apos Blue Moon and A-B&aposs Shock Top witbiers, the Brewers Association list also hammers small regional brewers and brands long considered "craft" based on their ingredients and and the company they keep. We took a long glance at the Brewers Association&aposs hot and not list and found 10 examples of "craft" brewers that drinkers (and in some cases, the breweries themselves) might be surprised to learn aren&apost as craft as they may seem:

10. Blue Moon

Why it&aposs not craft:

Owned by SAB Miller/MolsonCoors venture Miller Coors

Let&aposs get one thing absolutely straight here: Witbier like Blue Moon has

been a craft beer by the Brewers Association&aposs standard definition. That doesn&apost stop plenty of beer snobs and geeks from enjoying them each summer alongside their big-brewery contemporaries.

Pierre Celis single-handedly revived the witbier after centuries of dormancy in 1965, when he began brewing it in his barn in the Belgian town of Hoegaarden. His recipe combining of wheat, bitter Curacao orange peel, coriander, sweet orange peel and only a slight touch of hops became the recipe for Hoegaarden White Ale and sold more than 300,000 barrels at its peak in 1985, when a fire engulfed its brewery and forced a cash-strapped Celis to sell to giant Belgian company Interbrew. That company is now known as Anheuser-Busch InBev and is the reason jelly-glass tumblers of Hoegaarden can be found in outdoor restaurant spaces and beer gardens across America.

Even Hoegaarden wouldn&apost be the success it is today if Celis hadn&apost dusted himself off, moved to Texas and opened his own craft brewery just outside Austin in 1992. His Celis White was good enough to get Celis a buyout from Miller and introduce witbier to a new generation of brewers.

Craft brewers latched onto the style and, by 1995, Rob Tod at

Allagash Brewery

in Portland, Maine, turned it into Allagash White and made it his flagship beer. A year later, Coors brewer Keith Villa formulated Blue Moon while working at the company&aposs on-site brewery at the Denver home of Major League Baseball&aposs Colorado Rockies in Coors Field.

The Brewers Association really doesn&apost like that Blue Moon isn&apost labeled as a Coors product, produces other esoteric styles like pumpkin ale under its label and uses crafty, indie-pop ads to promote its product. Craft beer drinkers don&apost feel nearly as strongly about it, with

giving it fair marks for quality and

putting it right in the middle of the pack.

For many craft beer drinkers, Blue Moon was their gateway beer when Coors and Anheuser-Busch couldn&apost offer anything beyond it. It didn&apost come from one of the craft beer community&aposs small breweries, but it sure led a lot of people to them.

9. Shock Top

Why it&aposs not craft:

Owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev

The same reasoning the Brewers Association applied to Blue Moon applies here: It&aposs a big-brewery witbier.

Fine, but do you really not trust drinkers enough to suss this out on their own?

readers found it decisively average, while its writers think it&aposs a pretty poor version of a witbier.

Also, if the Brewers Association considers Shock Top such pure evil, then why does it have no problem including Anheuser-Busch InBev breweries on its

Why does it allow them to take part in its festivals and competitions? Why does it take money (albeit tiny sums) from those breweries for its annual budget?

If Shock Top is so "not-craft," then why are you giving its parent company so much craft cred?

8. D. G. Yuengling & Son

Why it&aposs not craft:

Uses adjunct ingredients in its beer, not "traditional"

Man, it takes a huge pair of stones for an organization that came into existence in 2005 to call a brewery that&aposs been in existence since 1829, survived through prohibition and is still family owned "non-traditional."

There are many other ways the craft kids could knock Yuengling. Last year, it brewed more than 2.5 million barrels of beer to become the largest American-owned brewery in the country, which makes it huge by craft standards. It still brews in its hometown of Pottsville, Pa., but has other brewing facilities in Tampa, Fla.

The problem is that if you&aposre going to keep Yuengling off the list for getting too big, you&aposd have to do the same for Boston Beer. That would take all of Boston Beer&aposs growth out of the equation, too, which is disastrous when craft beer&aposs mouthpiece hitches so much of small brewing&aposs success to numbers. In 2011, small and independent craft brewers as defined by the Brewers Association saw their industry grow 13% by volume, driven by big gains for Boston Beer. In the first half of 2012, volume grew by an additional 12%. A lot of Sam Adams went into those numbers as well.

To avoid some messiness, the Brewers Association points to the fact that Yuengling uses corn in its mix and accuses it of cutting corners and trimming costs. The problem is, as fellow blacklisted brewery

August Schell Brewing

, older breweries founded by German immigrants tend to use a bit of corn in their recipes because they didn&apost have access to two-row barley from home and had to cut into the higher protein found in the native six-row barley.

Given how much craft beer snobs shriek and howl when it&aposs even suggested that a brewery might change recipes when it expands, one would think they&aposd welcome a brewery such as Yuengling sticking to its original formula for all these years. Oh, and if they think Yuengling&aposs cheaping out, check the price of corn after the biofuel push of the 2000s and compare it with the price of malt. Nobody&aposs getting a break by subbing in corn.

P.S. You know who doesn&apost have a problem with Yuengling mingling among the craft brewers? Pennsylvania craft breweries. Not only does Yuengling take part in craft events such as Philly Beer Week these days, but it&aposs also teamed up with craft brewers such as Victory Brewing to address issues including self distribution that affect craft and regional brewers alike.

As much as the Brewers Association singles out Yuengling for being "non-craft," it doesn&apost have a problem using it to pad its membership numbers, either.

7. Straub Brewing

Why it&aposs not craft:

Uses adjunct ingredients in its beer, not "traditional"

The craft beer guys really have something against the old-line Pennsylvania breweries.

We can understand Pittsburgh&aposs Iron City making BeerAdvocate&aposs "non-craft" list, as its cans of low-end lager have done little to convince people otherwise despite sticking around since 1861. We can even see why Wilkes-Barre&aposs

Lion Brewery

made the list, as it&aposs been around since 1905 but does a bunch of contract brewing work for

But Straub? Really? It isn&apost distributed too far beyond its home in St. Mary&aposs, Pa., and only travels about as far as Ohio. It gives drinking-age visitors to its Northwest Pennsylvania brewery free beers from the "Eternal Tap" in its brewery wall. Its lager recipe hasn&apost changed since the brewery was founded in 1872.

As former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey once said, "Bud is Bud and light is light, but Straub is Pennsylvania." The Brewers Association disagrees for the same reason it disagrees with letting Yuengling into the club: There&aposs corn it it.

Listen, way back in 2005 when the Association of Brewers and the Brewers&apos Association of America merged to form the Brewers Association and "promote and protect small and independent American brewers, their craft beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts," there were any number of ingredients available for craft brewers to use. Shockingly, for German immigrants such as Peter Straub settling in the U.S. in the late 1800s, plucking two-row malt from any spot on the globe and backing a truckload of bittering and aroma hops up to your brewkettle just weren&apost possible.

Instead, German brewers had to throw some corn into the mix just to counter the effects of American malt. That&aposs improvisation and ingenuity that the Brewers Association claims to support, but take every opportunity to spit on if it didn&apost happen sometime after 1970. Unfortunately, it results only in the organization throwing shade at yet another of

6. Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing

Why it&aposs not craft:

Owned by SABMiller, uses adjunct ingredients in its beer, not "traditional"

The fact that the Leinenkugel&aposs brand is owned by Miller comes as no real surprise to anyone living around the Leinie Lodge in Chippewa Falls, Wis., where Leinenkugel&aposs was founded in 1867. Miller bought the company in 1988, before all but the most long-lived craft breweries existed.

Even its 10th Street Brewery in Milwaukee -- the basis for MillerCoors&apos 10 & Blake Beer Co. brands including Blue Moon, Pilsner Urquell and Peroni -- was bought more than 15 years ago. The problem, it seems, is that MillerCoors has since taken Leinenkugel&aposs national and filled beer store shelves with its Sunset Wheat, Honey Weiss, Oktoberfest, Red Lager and Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout and Imperial IPA varieties.

While nobody&aposs disputing the corporate ownership or even the presence of adjuncts in some of its brews, we can understand why the folks at the Leinie Lodge get a bit testy about that "traditional" claim. When you say that a brewery that&aposs been around for nearly a century and a half and is a huge draw for Chippewa Falls isn&apost "traditional," you&aposre just inviting the Leinenkugel folks to counter with "145 years of craft beer brewing and Leinenkugel family history," as they do on the Lodge&aposs

If you&aposre going to take away their tradition, they&aposre going to take away your made-up "craft" label. Seems like an even swap.

5. Goose Island Brewery

Why it&aposs not craft:

Owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev

Goose Island couldn&apost win, so why try?

The Chicago brewery got its start in 1988 but got its first taste of craft beer wrath when it joined up with Redhook and Widmer Brothers in the Craft Brewers Alliance in 2006. Despite saturating the Chicagoland area in 312 Urban Wheat during the summer and warming it with its barrel-aged Bourbon Country Stout during the winter, it occasionally drew critiques for associating with a collective that was distributed and partially owned by Anheuser-Busch.

Despite a trophy case full of medals from the Brewers Association&aposs Great American Beer Festival, whispers about the supposedly inevitable drop in Goose Island&aposs quality became deafening. Last year, founder John Hall sold the company to Anheuser-Busch InBev outright for $38.8 million. Since then, questions about Goose Island becoming a national brand (which it was, to a degree, when the Craft Brewers Alliance brewed it in various locations) and about Bourbon County Stout going year-round have continued to circulate.

There were still lines for BCS in Chicago this year and nothing about Goose Island&aposs numbers indicate outsized success as A-B&aposs "craft" beer brand. According to

, Goose Island sold 150,000 barrels of beer in 2011, its first year with Anheuser-Busch. Not only is that less than half of the 623,000 barrels sold by the Craft Brew Alliance in the same year, but it&aposs a fraction of the 713,000 barrels sold by Colorado-based New Belgium and the 858,000 barrels unloaded by California-based Sierra Nevada.

Even among the big boys, Goose Island remains a misfit.

4. Narragansett Brewing

Why it&aposs not craft:

Uses adjunct ingredients in its beer, makes some of its beers outside its brewing facility

of the Brewers Association? Yes, but that clearly hasn&apost meant much to this list so far, so why start now?

But doesn&apost Narragansett appear at the American Craft Beer Festival in Boston each spring? Why yes, it does.

Then what&aposs the problem? Again, it essentially comes down to adjuncts. The original recipes for Narragansett Lager dates back to 1890 and, as a result, has a touch of corn thrown in. Its Narragansett Light, meanwhile, is basically built around adjuncts. The two products are brewed at the North American Brewery in Rochester, N.Y., which the Brewers Association already hates for being owned by North American Breweries and its private-equity parent company

KPS Capital Partners

, but we&aposll get into them a little later.

Narragansett&aposs been trying to get into craft beer&aposs good graces, however. Its lineup has expanded to include an Oktoberfest and Summer Ale that took home silver at the 2011 World Beer Championships. Its trademark 16-ounce tallboy cans also seem like a sure fit in the craft community, but a beer best known for being the beer of choice at Red Sox games in the 1950s and for its &aposGansett Girl pinups (which still find a home on the

) may have a long way to go before it gets cozy in craft circles.

3. Dixie Brewing

Why it&aposs not craft:

Uses adjunct ingredients in its beer

Hey, you know what really makes beer snobs look like insufferable jerkwads? Picking on a brewery destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The brewery in New Orleans&apos Third Ward was heavily damaged by the storm and has sat abandoned and picked over since the storm hit in 2005. Photos of the abandoned site are

, but not nearly as unsettling as the decision by the Brewers Association to put Dixie on its hit list

for not putting enough grain in the brew.

Oh, we&aposre sorry fat, warm, sheltered beer snob. We&aposre sure one of Dixie&aposs displaced employees will climb in through one of its many busted windows, scrape about eight years worth of rust off the works and get on that

. In the meantime, feel free to sling a few blog barbs at the contract brewer keeping the brand alive so New Orleans can one day have its beer and a few jobs back.

2. Pyramid Brewery

Why it&aposs not craft:

"Imported adjunct beer sales exceed domestic production"

This has nothing to do with Pyramid&aposs apricot beer, its brewpub in Seattle, its restaurants or its bland labeling that make it look oddly like

This has everything to do with who&aposs owned it and, more importantly, who owns it now. Pyramid&aposs been on a wild ride since 2008, when it was sold to Magic Hat Brewing of Burlington, Vt., for roughly $25 million. Just two years later, investment firm KPS Capital Partners and its North American Breweries snatched up Pyramid and Magic Hat and included them in its stable alongside beers including Genesee Cream Ale, Dundee Honey Brown, Canada&aposs Labatt Blue and Costa Rica&aposs Imperial.

The Brewers Association likely had the latter two in mind when it slapped Pyramid&aposs parent company for selling too many imports, but Pyramid&aposs current situation is even more globally complex. In October, KPS Capital sold NAB to Cerveceria Costa Rica, a subsidiary of Florida Ice & Farm, for $388 million. That makes Pyramid and its smaller holding -- Portland, Ore.-based MacTarnahan&aposs -- an even more minute portion of a large international conglomerate.

Any way you approach it, it&aposs tough to call that "craft."

1. Magic Hat Brewing

Why it&aposs not craft:

"Imported adjunct beer sales exceed domestic production"

Much as we explained earlier, Magic Hat isn&apost craft in the Brewers Association&aposs eyes because it sold out to the man.

Even that probably wouldn&apost have been such a big deal if it hadn&apost come from such inherently crafty beginnings. Magic Hat is brewed in Burlington, Vt. Its beers have individually designed labels and names such as Circus Boy, Vinyl, Hex and Blind Faith. It has its own music festival in Vermont. Its No. 9 apricot ale was many a college student&aposs gateway away from 16 packs of swill into better brew.

That began to change when it bought up Pyramid in 2008, but really took at turn in 2010 when North American Breweries staked its claim. Its lineup became more standardized, favorites such as its Jinx Scotch ale and Humble Patience Irish red faded away and even fairly open-minded craft beer lovers noticed a distinct turn for the bland.

While other craft beers have seen sales soar in the past five years, Magic Hat and Pyramid combined to sell 336,000 barrels in 2011. That&aposs up from 332,000 a year before but is equal to the 336,000 it sold in 2008. By comparison,

Deschutes Brewery

in Bend, Ore., is just behind Magic Hat and Pyramid with 223,000 barrels sold in 2011, but increased sales from 182,000 in 2008.

Since Magic Hat&aposs been guzzled by an international conglomerate, it&aposs uncertain what the future will hold for the brand and its craft beer faithful that have been following it since 1994. What is certain, however, is that Magic Hat&aposs predicament is exactly the type of thing that leads to craft/non-craft declarations such as the one the Brewers Association just made.


The 15 Best Beers To Drink This Spring

When the dark days and barren trees of winter finally give way to the brighter skies and blossoming buds of spring, that’s your cue to trade your scarf for some sunglasses and those pants for a pair of shorts. It’s an annual time of transition in which the world clears out what’s old to make room for what’s new, and in keeping with the spirit of the season, many of us will even give our homes a once-over too. This year, include your beer selection in your spring cleaning and stock up with some brews that’ll complement the floral atmosphere.

We’re talking beers loaded with tons of citrus flavors and spice: lagers, saisons, and even a session beer or two. Because let’s face it. By this point on the calendar, you’ve had plenty of porters and enough coffee stouts to make a barista blush. Of course, if dark is your druthers, by all means — do your thing. However, don’t pass up on the opportunity to restock your fridge with something that’ll give your palate a little wake-up call. After all, you might just discover a new favorite. One thing is for sure, though — our guide to the best spring beers will give you a head start in finding it.

Jack’s Abby Blood Orange Wheat

Jack’s Abby is one of craft beer’s leading lager authorities, exclusively working with brews that are in traditional German style. A strong adherent of authenticity, the Massachusetts-based brewery exclusively sources its hops from Bavaria each year and only uses time-tested old-world techniques. In the case of Blood Orange Wheat, they’re giving you a crisp, refreshing radler (like the German equivalent of a shandy) that comes in at an easy 4%. Pouring a reddish amber color, its nose first hits you with notes of citrus before the palate delivers a spicy blood orange flavor bomb.

Troegs Nugget Nectar

Okay, so Tröegs’ Nugget Nectar is technically a special seasonal winter brew, but we like to think it’s one that’s best enjoyed during the early days of spring (assuming it’s not long gone by then). For though this imperial amber technically started out as a birthday gift to Brewmaster John Trogner from himself, it’s quickly established itself as one of the Hersey, Pennsylvania brewery’s hottest annual releases. Dry-hopped with Nugget, Warrior, Tomahawk, Simcoe, Palisade varietals, makes for an excellent complement to citrus fruits and root vegetables because of its grapefruit, resin, and pine-rich flavors.

Allagash White

Ever since Allagash White started hitting shelves in 1995, it’s served as a staple within the craft beer world, quickly becoming one of the Maine-based outfits best-selling brews. When trying this Belgian-style witbier for yourself, make sure to give its yeast a good rousing. In addition to stirring up the sediment throughout the body, it also makes for a much lighter color with plenty of pillowy texture in the mouthfeel. As you’d expect from the style, it’s crisp as all get out and has notes of yellow apple, pear, and lemon peel.

Perennial Saison De Lis

Saisons are welcome any time of year, but when spring’s in full swing it helps to have one that’s packed full of floral flavor. Artisan ale specialist Perennial’s Saison De Lis does just the ticket — it combines a traditional Belgian-style yeast with an herbal chamomile infusion that makes it almost tea-like in taste. Be prepared for a lot of earthy flowers up front followed by a palate that’s just a little bit tart and a finish that’s dry and refreshing.

Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale

This Lagunitas ale is something of an oddity within the world of craft beer, for its hoppy-yet-wheaty profile means that it’s as much an IPA as it is a lager. Naturally, then, A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ should appeal to fans of both styles, because it combines the best of both worlds without being overwhelming. First offering notes of tangerine, lemon, and wood, it follows it up with bready malt, piney spice, and a lingering bitter finish.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

When all else fails, you can never go wrong with a Sierra Nevada. As the OG of the modern craft movement, their Pale Ale is a beer that needs no introduction. A true American classic, it exemplifies the style to a T, with whole-cone hop varietals offering a well-rounded experience that’s bold, juicy, and consistent from can to can. If you’re looking for something that’s tried and true, just pick up a six-pack of these — the subtle fruitiness and hop-forward flavor make for quite the crowd-pleaser.

Founders All Day IPA

Session beers are perfect for spring and summer because you can throw back a few without the worry of catching too much of an unwanted buzz. However, where most options on the market taste like little more than watered-down hop extract, Founders’ All Day IPA proves a welcome exception to the rule, with heaps of citrus aromas and a bitter, almost-sappy taste. Hop-heads be warned — at under 5% ABV, it’s never going to be a hard-hitter, but then again it’s not supposed to be. Rather, this mellow All Day IPA is meant for kicking back, resting your feet, and taking off for the afternoon.

Left Hand Brewing Milk Stout

While stouts are a brew typically best enjoyed during the winter months, that’s not to say that their thick, malty mouthfeel is out of place on a cool spring evening. Rather, as you’ll find with Left Hand Brewing’s Milk Stout, there’s ample cause to be had for sipping on something supple and dark after a long day at work. And besides, this one’s sweet enough that it’s not overbearing, delivering rich notes of dark chocolate with an extra helping of caramelized sugar and fresh coffee.

Victory Brewing Prima Pils

After setting up shop in an old Pepperidge Farm factory back in 1996, lifelong friends Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski wasted no time putting together an exhaustive lineup of wildly popular beers. One of Victory’s cult favorites, Prima Pils incorporates a variety of different German hops for a brew that’s classically pilsner yet also uniquely its own. Crisp and easy-drinking with a complex, hoppy flavor, this is one beer that’s well worth a look if you’re after something a bit different.

Firestone Walker Amburana Parabola Barrel Aged Stout

Sure, a 14.6% barrel-aged stout might seem like an unusual choice for a springtime beer, but one sip of Firestone Walker’s Parabola is all it takes to make you a believer. For though it’s high in alcohol content and rich in bourbon taste, the added time spent in Brazilian Amburana wood balances out the booziness with some baking spice and proves a welcome complement to the hints of cinnamon and vanilla peppered throughout the palate.

Ommegang Idyll Days Pilsner

Grab a book, pack yourself a picnic, and fill a cooler full of pilsners, and you’ll be set with everything you need to enjoy a relaxing spring afternoon. As the product of Belgian-style expert Ommegang, Idyll Days is one brew that’s a clear cut above the rest. Made with authentic Czech barley and fermented using lager yeast, the result is a beer that’s hazy golden-yellow in color and rife with lemon, grass, and spice. Because it’s a bit hoppier than most lagers, it doesn’t come with the same malty sweetness that you’d expect of the style.

Bell’s Oberon Ale

Named after Shakespeare’s medieval faerie king in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this Bell’s beer offers an ideal thirst-quenching pour as the weather continues to warm up. Hazy orange-yellow in color, it combines a low ABV with a balanced profile to result in a classic take on an American wheat ale. Given its citrusy-spice taste — heaped with orange zest and coriander — you’ll be surprised to know that it’s made with only four ingredients (none of which are fruits or spices)

Brouwerij West Dog Ate My Homework

If you find the above saison from Perennial to be a bit too subtle for your liking, we’d recommend Brouwerij West’s Dog Ate My Homework because of its punchy fruit-forward flavor. Pouring a beautiful dark reddish-purple with a lighter magenta-hued head, its palate is chock-full of tart blackberry while its finish balances things out with just a bit of herbal hops. Because of its light, airy body, this is one beer that’s especially delicious on a warm day.

Mikkeller Brewing Passion Pool Gose

When Mikkel Borg Bjergsø first started Mikkeller, it was little more than a kitchen side project to his primary job as a schoolteacher. However, before long, his bold, experimental style earned him no shortage of international acclaim, with Beer Geek Breakfast taking the top spot amongst a long list of other noteworthy stouts. In the case of this Passion Pool Gose, you’ll find the nose to be almost explosive in its passion fruit flavor, with some lactose and doughy vanilla to follow it up and a finish that’s decidedly dry.

Rogue Dead Guy Ale

At the end of the day, there’s no better way to welcome the onset of spring than with a bock — especially when it’s Dead Guy Ale. Brewed with Rogue’s proprietary Pacman ale yeast, it makes for a beer that’s flavorful, malty, and bready in the best way possible. It might not be the most complex offering on the market, but you can’t help but appreciate its simple caramel sweetness.

The 8 Best Beer Home Brewing Kits

While you can’t go wrong with any of the picks on this list, we recognize that every drinker has their particular palate. If store-bought beer won’t cut it, and you’re looking to make some of your own suds for a change, be sure to check out our guide to the best beer home brewing kits.

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Best Lite: Kona Light Blonde Ale

For a low-calorie beer, Kona Light Blonde Ale is an ideal summertime choice. You'll definitely want to serve this beer with grilled seafood or veggie kebabs. It pairs best with any light fare and is a real treat alongside grilled fruit. Toss some pineapple or watermelon on the heat and enjoy a relaxing, refreshing meal.

Light Blonde Ale is brewed on Hawaii’s Big Island with pale and caramel malts. It also features a trio of hops and real mango to give it an intriguing tropical island touch. The bitterness is extremely low (18 IBUs), and the ale is a light and refreshing 4.2 percent ABV. With just 99 calories and 4 grams of carbs, it’s a feel-good beer, too.


10 Craft Beers To Drink During The NFL Season

The 2014 NFL season will kick off tonight in spectacular fashion, as the defending champion, defensive-minded Seattle Seahawks host the explosive, Aaron Rodgers-led Green Bay Packers in a rematch of the notorious Fail Mary game just two years ago (remember the replacement refs?) Since your attention will undoubtedly be focused on game action over the first few weeks &mdash at least until your team starts 0-3 &mdash we've taken the liberty of putting together a cheat sheet to help with off-field (read: couch) drinking. We've assembled a list of 10 of our favorite craft beers to wash down buffalo wings on Sundays, keeping in mind that you'll likely be drinking for a large portion of the day. Here is a mix of light and dark, IPA and fruit-forward beers to look out for on your rediscovered favorite day of the week.

1. Bell&rsquos Brewery: Oberon Ale
This has been a huge year for this Kalamazoo classic, which finally showed up on both coasts in New York and California and got sleek new packaging in canned form. No matter how you drink it, this wheat ale with just a touch of spicy Saaz hops is just so refreshing. Orange slices are a local tradition, so you don&rsquot have to feel self-conscious about putting a fruity touch on your beer. Go for it.

2. Lagunitas Brewing Company: NightTime
When it comes to hoppy brews, Lagunitas never disappoints. Sure, they make a killer session IPA &mdash Daytime &mdash but look to NightTime for a sleeker, darker, more tropical hop bomb. There&rsquos an interesting roast quality, plus a hint of brown sugar. You can call it an American black ale all you want, but expect a huge, juicy double IPA that backs up Northern California's reputation.

3. Golden Road Brewing: Hefeweizen
There&rsquos nothing like a nice tallboy (16-ounce can) of Golden Road&rsquos hefe on a hot day &ndash it&rsquos even better for watching an late summer football game! It sports delicious banana and citrus flavors, and at 4.6% you can put back a few without worrying about an ice-cracking hangover the next day.

4. SingleCut Beersmiths: Jan Olympic White Lagrrr
While everyone loves to geek out over extreme beers, sometimes you just need a beer you can hang with. Since your NFL party is probably going to last all day, how about something light, crisp and freshing? SingleCut Beersmiths from Astoria, Queens makes a great wheat lager that goes down easy at 5.2% ABV and is a perfect pairing with spicy game day wings.

5. Great Lakes Brewing Company: Eliot Ness
A Vienna lager is a great lighter alternative that doesn&rsquot skimp on the flavor. Eliot Ness by Ohio&rsquos Grate Lakes Brewing in particular is a standout for its sweetness as well as its bready, toasty malts, which pair great with all manners of salty pork. While it has a decent hop presence, it&rsquos well-balanced and won&rsquot overwhelm.

6. Oskar Blues Brewery: Dale&rsquos Pale Ale
The football-watching bro may have been weaned on Bud, Miller and Coors (BMC) but there are plenty of great crossover beers just waiting for them. Oskar Blues out of Colorado has made the transition easy with Dale&rsquos Pale Ale &ndash and it even comes in a can with artwork of the Rocky Mountains! While this may make it resemble another popular local brew, these mountains won&rsquot turn blue when the beer is ready to drink, so don&rsquot waste your time waiting. If it&rsquos cold, this fantastic American Pale Ale is good to go. It&rsquos got a dynamic hop flavor and is balanced expertly with malt sweetness. It&rsquos also got a much more manly kick of 6.5% ABV, so don&rsquot try to play pong with this&hellip.or go right ahead and Instagram us the results.

7. The Bruery: Sour in the Rye
Well-known for their mastery of rye and sour beers, The Bruery&rsquos Sour in the Rye, a rye ale aged in oak barrels, stands out as a masterful combination of the two unique styles. It&rsquos quite sour, with hints of cherries and citrus but it&rsquos also spicy and extremely well-balanced. Though it&rsquos pricy and only available in 750ml bottles, it&rsquos a treat for fans of either style and a great one to share with friends.

8. Prairie Artisan Ales: Prairie Hop
If you want something a little spicy with a substantial, but not overpowering hop presence, Prairie Artisan Ales' Prairie Hop is the brew for you. Layered tropical fruit flavors give way to floral, grassy notes with a peppercorn spiciness, which goes perfectly with lighter grilled fare like chicken and fish. If you're wondering why Prairie Artisan Ales garners so much hype among beer enthusiasts, try this one out &mdash we think you'll agree it&rsquos one of the best American-made saisons.

9. Founders Brewing Company: All Day IPA
We singled out this sessionable IPA from Grand Rapids favorites for our Spring beers list. They've already increased distribution of All Day IPA bottles, but it&rsquos worth repeating now that All Day comes in cans, too! You&rsquod be hard-pressed to find an IPA that drinks easier than this &mdash which at 4.7% you could really drink all day and probably all night, too. The taste is bitter but doesn&rsquot overwhelm &mdash hints of pine, citrus and spice make for one of the most enjoyable drinking experience you&rsquoll have this late summer.

10. Evil Twin Brewing Bikini Beer
Likely the lightest beer you&rsquoll drink all summer at just 2.7%, this is the perfect IPA for the beach, with a ton of tropical citrus fruit hoppiness. Evil Twin, a gypsy brewer that formerly brewed these beers overseas, is now brewing Bikini Beer (and Hipster Ale) at Connecticut's Two Roads Brewing, which means it will be more affordable with a wider distribution than ever before.


Watch the video: Talk Smart About Beer - Off Duty (November 2022).