Which breweries will rock the beer scene this year? We asked the experts: The nation’s most prolific brewers tell us who they’re drinking in 2013.
“Two breweries I’m excited about are No-Li in Spokane, Wash., and GoodLife in Bend, Ore. No-Li’s Crystal Bitter is a wonderful ESB that just won gold at GABF; their packaging is very sharp, and they have made Spokane craft-relevant. GoodLife has a great wheat ale called Sweet As Pacific Ale that I really enjoy, and they have carved out a great position that connects their appreciation for the outdoors and the good things in life to their Bend roots.” -Brett Joyce, head of Rogue Ales, which harvested seven hop varieties from its Oregon hop farm in 2012.
“There are several new, small, up-and-coming Bay Area breweries of note: High Water Brewing makes great West Coast-style IPAs and double IPAs, but it’s perhaps becoming best known for its Campfire Stout, which is brewed with chocolate malt, marshmallow and graham crackers in the mash for liquid s’mores in a bottle. Then there’s Almanac Beer Co., which makes limited-release beers in collaboration with select northern California sustainable farms, like a biere de Mars brewed with organic baby fennel and a Farmhouse Pale brewed with Central Valley plums and organic local wheat. Heretic Brewing is another upstart, with medieval-named beers like Evil Twin, Shallow Grave and Torment; it won a gold medal in the rye beer category at GABF for their Gramarye Beer.” -Nico Freccia, co-founder of 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco. This year, the brewery teams with neighbors Hog Island Oysters to craft a new oyster stout.
“I believe that Solemn Oath in Naperville, Ill., is going to do great things. My friend Tim Marshall—Tim took over as head brewer at Rock Bottom Indy when I left a decade ago—got his dream off the ground last summer, and I stopped in for a visit during Chicago Beer Week. It’s a great setup with room for growth, and they are doing a lot of Belgian-inspired ales. As a hophead, I was partial to the Oubliette, a Belgian golden ale with a good citrus hop punch, and Kidnapped by Vikings, an American IPA. Both are solidly delicious!” -Clay Robinson, owner-brewer at Indiana’s Sun King Brewing, whose Johan the Barleywine won GABF gold in fall.
“I’m most excited about Societe Brewing in San Diego, run by two former Bruery employees, Doug Constantiner and Travis Smith. Both of them focus on quality and set very high standards for themselves. I’m particularly a fan of their IPAs: The Apprentice and The Pupil are amazing beers. I think not being able to make hoppy beers at The Bruery made them particularly thirsty for the perfect IPA. The hop aroma of these beers is just about all you could ask for, and the malt base and yeast profile never takes away from the key ingredient: hops. I’m also looking forward to their sour beer creations.” -Patrick Rue, founder of The Bruery in Orange County, which will release more than 25 beers this year, including four iterations of its anniversary beer, Bois.
And we’re keeping an eye on…
Island Brewing | Carpinteria, Calif.: Heads turned for this 12-year-old brewery’s Avocado Honey Ale, but its more serious pours put it on the map last year: At September’s GABF, Bourbon Barrel Aged Night Sail earned silver, while Starry Night Stout took home a coveted gold medal.
Tired Hands Brewing | Ardmore, Pa.: Though it only opened in June, this super-small-batch brewery fast became one of 2012’s star newcomers on RateBeer.com. Its HopHands pale and handful of saisons are the stuff beer legends are made of.
DESTIHL | Normal, Ill.: DESTIHL’s first gastrobrewpub opened in 2007; the name will be huge when inventive, spontaneously fermented Saint Dekkera Reserve Sour Ale series (along with the brewery’s mainstays) hits shelves for the first time in 2013.
BRU Handbuilt Ales | Boulder, Colo.: Centro Latin Kitchen chef Ian Clark’s garage-based nanobrewery pumps out newly bottled beers like the date-infused Obitus American Brown Ale and lemongrass-and-juniper-spiked Citrum IPA.
Night Shift Brewing | Everett, Mass.: This Boston-area brewery’s small-batch seasonals turn traditional styles upside-down: Think rose-hip-and-peppercorn saison and a green-tea-and-orange wheat ale.