I recently came upon another interesting group of Top 10 lists by Newsweek about the first decade of the 21st century. It’s called The Decade in Rewind 20/10 and one part of their look back at the aughts includes a new Top 10 list every day. The list that caught my eye was an interesting one, Unknown in ’99, Indispensable Now which picked 10 things that we can’t do without in 2009 but didn’t exist ten years ago. Some things take years to catch on, but these caught on like wildfire. I use over half of them all the time, and couldn’t imagine life without them. Here’s that list:
- Digital Video Recorder (DVR)
- Red Bull
- Free Credit Reports
- Online Airline Check-In
So it got me thinking about the breweries that have been around for less than ten years. With Sierra Nevada coming up on their 30th anniversary, a growing number of successful breweries are older than a decade, in some cases two decades. But many new breweries have seen a phenomenal amount of success in a relatively short time. Undoubtedly, the market has changed considerably from where it was pre-millennium and that probably accounts for more favorable conditions for new craft brewers. But alone that’s not enough to account for it all. Some of these new breweries just stepped up and kicked butt. So for my 20th Top 10 list, here are my choices for the ten most important and influential breweries that began within the last ten years. These are the young Turks, the mavericks and the rookies. Some are here because they make great beer while others have made their mark through their influence. I should stress I don’t think I have a complete list of every brewery that’s opened since 1999. Also, I didn’t include new locations opened by an older, existing brewery, or ones that moved. And I certainly haven’t been to all of them at any rate. So undoubtedly I’m going to miss some worthy places, but I can only pick ten. Let me know who you’d put on the list. Here’s List #20:
Top 10 New Breweries
|Ninkasi Brewing (OR; 2006)|
|The Bruery (CA; 2008)|
|Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project (MA; 2008)|
|21st Amendment Brewery (CA; 2000)|
|Surly Brewing (MN; 2006)|
|Southern Tier (NY; 2003)|
|Captain Lawrence (NY; 2006)|
|Tie: Laurelwood Public House & Brewery (OR; 2001) / Hopworks Urban Brewery (OR; 2008)|
|Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (MI; 2004)|
|The Lost Abbey (CA; 2006)|
It was, as always, really difficult to keep the list to ten, and a great many terrific and deserving breweries were left on the cutting room floor. Here’s a few more that almost made the list:
Alpine Beer Co. (CA; 2006); Bard’s Tale (NY; 2004); City Brewing (WI; 1999); Fifty Fifty Brewing (CA; 2007); Five Seasons Brewing (GA; 2000); Heavyweight Brewing (NJ; 1999); Moon River (GA; 1999); Natty Greene’s (NC; 2004); Nebraska Brewing (NE; 2007); Piece Brewing (IL; 2001); Pisgah Brewing (NC; 2005); Roots Organic Brewery (OR; 2005); Short’s Brewing (MI; 2004); Trumer Brauerei (CA; 2003)
Let me know your favorites, and if there are any that you think should have made the list, please post a comment.
NOTE: It’s a little sad that I have to mention this, but while I encourage a lively debate, that doesn’t mean I enjoy being insulted or attacked. This is meant to be fun and encourage discussion — notice the “Just For Fun” tag? Please stop reminding me it’s “just” opinion. Of course it is. Are you under the impression that I think this list is somehow definitive? Just to clear it up, it’s not. I know it. If you’d read the introduction, which apparently many people did not, you’d know it too. It’s the very definition of subjectivity. But please try to remember, as you type those angry words, that even though you can’t see me, I am a real human being. Honest, I exist. Before you hit send, ask yourself if you’d say the things you’re writing to a person who was standing right in front of you, having a conversation. If not, please take a breath, calm down, and try again. I’ve deleted the worst offenders because, oddly enough, I don’t enjoy being on the receiving end of vituperation any more than you probably do. Let’s try to keep it civil, people. Okay?
Also, if you have any ideas for future Top 10 lists you’d like to see, drop me a line.
Push Eject says
I’d like to know the top ten things about your experience in-studio at the Brewing Network last Sunday.
Alpine Beer Co. can absolutely not be left off of this list. It’s made the top 10 of any brewery in the US, old or new, in most beer circles for the past few years. As a fellow San Diegan, I have to give credit to a local brewery turning out amazing beers.
Completely agree, that’s one I simply missed. Sorry about that Pat, you’re added now.
ninkasi /definitely/ should’ve made this list – was out visiting the NW this summer and couldn’t get enough of their beer – and they keep rockin out new, delicious varieties all the time – it’s effing brilliant!
[i am happy that surly made it though as i’m a minneapolis man]
(512) Brewing in Austin, TX!
Ninkasi should have made the list, but i am happy to see surly and laurelwood on there. The lost abbey is also DAMN good
ummm, what about Ninkasi???
I can’t believe that Ninkasi didn’t make the final 10!!! It’s hands down the best beer in the world.
Ninkasi Brewing should be on this list! USBTC just named their Radiant as the best Pale in the US… Total Dom won best IPA in the NW… Everything they brew is incredible!
You’ve got to be kidding if you have 2 Oregon Breweries on that list and Ninkasi is not one of them. Not only should they be on your list, but they should probably be #1. Hopworks is fantasic too. Congrats to Laurelwood for making the list but IMO they’re not in the same league as Hopworks and Ninkasi. Ninkasi’s Total Domination IPA should be beer of the year.
How did Ninkasi not make the top 10? The believer is the best Red Ale I’ve ever had and would step over my grandmother to get one!
But all in all still a good list.
Fred May says
Ninkasi Brewery from Eugene OR makes some awesome brews. I love their summer Radiant Ale. And it recently won the USBTC in the Pale Ale category. I knew it was a winner the first time I tasted it. Then, if you want to get on the HOP wagon with a good alcohol kick (8.8% I think) run don’t walk and grab a Triceratops Double IPA. Amazing stuff! I just tried my first bottle of Oatis (Oatmeal Stout) and I think it will be my new winter friend. Seriously Jay…you gotta check these brews out as they may bump someone on your TOP 10! Ninkasi really knows what they are doing.
Wow, a lot of Ninkasi love out there. They only barely didn’t make the list, and it was a hard decision. I do love what Jamie’s doing there and the only reason I didn’t initially put them in the top 10 was I didn’t feel their impact was as far reaching. I hope I’m not insulting Oregon (I love the place, those of you who know me, know that’s true) but sometimes there is a certain myopia about Oregon being the center of the beer world that makes people forget there is great beer throughout the land. That being said, you’ve all persuaded me that Ninkasi does belong on the list and now they are.
Woot! Ninkasi! Glad you changed it- T-Nic is right: Total Domination should be the beer of the year.
Nate Otto says
Oregon’s hop fanatics can’t live without Ninkasi. I’m so glad we are close enough to get it all the time. Good job adding it.
Lost Abbey is just an extension of Port Brewing. Doesn’t that fall into the disqualifying category of “new locations opened by an older, existing brewery” ?
I felt it was different enough, it wasn’t just a new Pizza Port location, but the launch of a whole new brand, separate from Port, though, obviously, owned by the same people.
Sensi Miller says
Here’s the deal (oregon specific), Ninkasi should be rated higher than hopworks. (sorry HUB, the lack of a decent lager did you in) And while Laurelwood has some really really great brew (the red is worth a few pints plus some in one sitting), Ninkasi can do no wrong. They proved this by doing no wrong! Any beer these geniuses brew I would rate as my all time go to.
For the record, Total Domination is an excellent brew, but Ill be damned hop heads, Tricerahops is where you will find hop heaven. Also, cant believe the Believer Double Red. Wait, I can believe it…
John Pinkerton says
Hello J and thanks for including us in your runner up list. It looks like I’ll have to work just a little bit harder to make your top ten… you keep tasting, we’ll keep brewing to impress. We’re currently transferring our winter seasonal, Nick’s Balls of Gold, another belgo-american hybrid style. We’ve combined the caramalized sugar-raisony malt character of an abbey-style dubbel with the juicy-fruity flavors of U.S. Crystal dry-hops. Looks like you’re going to have to take a road trip though… with my recently expanded family and the economy, my plans for expansion to a bottling facility are on hold for now.
Stan Hieronymus says
Not something I should start on, because it will end up being the length of a post, but . . .
– Chuckanut and Devils Backbone sure hit the ground running, and given the pedigree of the guys in charge of brewing it hardly seems like a fluke.
– Since you had some NC breweries in honorable mention I thought of Duck Rabbit and Foothills.
– Yes, Dan Paquette is an excellent brewer, but Pretty Things still doesn’t have its own brewing facility, does it?
– Nodding Head (because they were at least briefly the largest producer of Berliner Weisse outside of Berline) and the Alchemist in Vermont (two medals at GABF for gluten free beer).
OK, sorry Starr Hill and Tyranena, but I’ll quit here now and get to work.
Good choices, Stan, some of those simply didn’t turn up in trying to put together a list of breweries that opened in the last ten years. I even worked with Erin at the BA, who doesn’t have a complete list either.
Karen Arbogast says
Loving the NINKASI Total Domination!!!!!!!
Probably hasn’t been around long enough to make the top 10 yet, but with a GABF Gold, maybe Cigar City in Tampa can get into the top 20?
Ninkasi really? While they are good at marketing I don’t think the beer is up to the quality standards of the other breweries on the list.
rob ulick says
Jay, nice list given the impossible task of reducing the number to only 10. With so many worthy of mention maybe there should be some further deliniation? How about by classification by geography or predominant style?
I wholely second Stan’s shout out to Foothills and Duck Rabbit both of whom took medals at GABF (a gold & two bronze). Please show some love to NC, “the State of Southern Beer’. Cheers!
IMO there’s no tie between Laurelwood and Hopworks, Laurelwood is on top there. Also, I wanted to say that Oregonians, at least the one’s up North, couldn’t live without their Double Mountain Brewery!
Foothills Brewing, Winston-Salem, NC
Ithaca Brewing, Ithaca, NY
Fort George Brewing, Astoria, OR
Walking Man Brewing, Stevenson, WA
Auburn Ale House, Auburn, CA
Keep an eye on Portland’s Upright Brewing. I don’t think they’re ready for a top-10 list just yet, but if they keep developing in the right direction, there’s potential. I’ve also enjoyed some distinctive, unusually flavored beers from Trade Route Brewing, now in Pacific, WA; their Ginger Pale Ale is a great accompaniment to Japanese food, among other things.
From an oregonian:
Ninkasi is good and does deserve to be on the top 10 I think, a lot of it is about their distribution though too. They’ve really won out with distro.
Laurelwood has been around longer than Hopworks, and I think Laurelwood spawned Hopworks. Isn’t that correct? They’ve got 4 locations now and one of those is in Washington, so they are braving new laws and regulations. They make damn good beers and have new ones every week. They’ve also won all sorts of crazy awards. Hopworks is good, and in a few years might be up there with Laurelwood, but not right now they aren’t.
I’m glad to see Shorts almost made the list. Joe is doing some unbelievable things upnorth in Michigan. I know many of these breweries but they don’t distribute in Michigan (I wish Surly did!), so I don’t get to try them often and can’t offer much of an opinion. Jolly Pumpkin is a cult fave and is expanding lately, here in the Great Beer State…
Great list Jay. Glad to see The Bruery made the list…in a sea of great beers at this year’s GABF, they were a standout for me.
Brad Chmielewski says
Nice list Jay! The only one I haven’t had yet is Captain Lawrence.
When I visited Ninkasi in July right after the OBF I was able to chat with Jamie for a few minutes. I found something out about them that hasn’t been mentioned here. Ninkasi is the fastest growing brewery in the country. I have a funny feeling that’s why Jamie is in NYC this week(or maybe the last few days). Don’t quote me but I think he said 40% annual growth?
Jay, thanks for the shout out. Always nice to be acknowledged.
Nice to see Surly on the list…but it should be closer to the top-3 (IMHO). Surly Furious is the nectar of the gods!
I would suggest a top 10 of “experimental” beers. I’m not thinking pumpkin ales or double IPA’s. I’m thinking a list of beers that upon hearing of them you would raise an eyebrow in intrigue and curiosity. I love experimental beers. I can say I’ve had some absolutely delicious and innovative beers, but I’ve also had some terrible and revolting beers.
Bob Roth says
I would have picked “Flat Earth” (St. Paul, Mn. )brewery over Surly.
Chad Welle says
Sorry Bob – Flat Earth is ok but isn’t even in the same dimension as Surly. Definitely drinkable but they are not Surly. 🙂 I ahve to admit though that I love their Cygnus Porter!