This is one of the strangest lists of the top anything in the beer world for quite some time. Matador Trips, which bills itself as providing “trip ideas for travelers,” had one of their frequent contributors, Eric Warren, create a list of what they’re calling the “Top 20 Microbreweries in America.” It’s as head-scratching a list as ever I’ve seen. I know these things are almost pure opinion and that reasonable people can differ widely. I come up with my own Top 10 lists most weeks, so I know what a chore it can be. But they should, I feel, have some grounding in reality, and should at least try to maintain some internal consistency, adjust for personal bias (or at least cop to it) and be a reflection of the actual trends or reality (and if not at least be able to support the choices).
So imagine my surprise after nearly 20 years of paying very close attention to the world of beer, that the top two microbreweries in all the land I’ve barely even heard of. I’m sure they’re fine places, and I by no means wish to disparage them, but apart from the locals (and Stan, who’s been everywhere) how many people would have placed these two so high on a list of this title? How many are actually “microbreweries?” At least a few on his list are “brewpubs,” not that there’s anything wrong with that. Boundary Bay Brewing is, for example, currently the largest brewpub in America. Barrio Brewing, the #2 micro, opened in 2007 and doesn’t bottle or can their beer. Another one on the list, the Novare Res Bier Cafe doesn’t even appear to brew beer, but is instead an apparently decent beer bar in Maine. Really, he couldn’t fine one more actual brewery to round out the list?
I’m trying not to be too much of a dick here, but if you’re going to use the term “microbreweries,” it seems reasonable that you should know or find out what it means to be a microbrewery. A Microbrewery has a specific definition, but even beyond that there are some odd choices and glaring omissions that almost anybody paying attention would undoubtedly notice. The author gives no formula or idea of how he made his choices. Dartboard, perhaps? I should point out that Warren has lived in Montana for 25 years and is currently in Maine, so that may at least give some of his choices context.
Here’s the list. You probably know where I stand. What’s your take? Good list, or worthless?
The Top 20 Microbreweries in America, According to Matador Trips
- Kettlehouse Brewing, Missoula, Montana
- Barrio Brewing, Tucson, Arizona
- Full Sail Brewing, Hood River, Oregon
- Second Street Brewery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Clipper City Brewing, Baltimore, Maryland
- Free State Brewing, Lawrence, Kansas
- Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que Smokehouse & Brewery, Austin, Texas
- Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, New York
- Sleeping Giant Brewery/Lewis and Clark Brewing, Helena, Montana
- Deschutes Brewery & Public House, Bend, Oregon
- Ale Asylum, Madison, Wisconsin
- Boundary Bay Brewery, Bellingham, Washington
- Asheville Pizza & Brewing, Asheville, North Carolina
- Moab Brewery, Moab, Utah
- AleSmith Brewing, San Diego, California
- Long Trail Brewing, Bridgewater Corners, Vermont
- Twisp River Pub, Twisp, Washington
- Novare Res Bier Cafe, Portland, Maine
- Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
- New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colorado