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Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 New Breweries

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:

  1. Wikipedia
  2. YouTube
  3. iTunes
  4. Digital Video Recorder (DVR)
  5. Gardasil
  6. Chipotle
  7. TMZ
  8. Red Bull
  9. Free Credit Reports
  10. 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.

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