We're in the midst of a very special time for craft brewers and their fans.
Do you know what week it is?
It's American Craft Beer Week!
Every May, the non-profit Brewers Association celebrates craft breweries across the country with American Craft Beer Week, which the organization first observed in 2006.
The week is meant to highlight the impact that small and independent craft brewers have made on the beer industry, as well as within the hearts and minds of its fans (like me!)
Not sure what makes a beer a "craft" brew?
The Brewers Association defines craft brewers as:
- Small (producing 6 million barrels of beer or less per year);
- Independent (majority of company is not controlled or owned by a member of the alcoholic beverage industry); and
- Traditional (the beers' flavor comes from traditional and/or innovative ingredients and their fermentation).
These are the makers of what we fondly call craft beer. Around here, that means breweries like Two Roads, Stony Creek, Half Full, Duvig, Overshores, Thimble Island, Black Hog, New England Brewing Co., Firefly Hollow, and many more.
In honor of this hallowed time (May 16-22 this year), I've decided to put together a list of some of my favorite craft breweries, as well as a bucket list of breweries I plan or hope to visit in the near future. It's a brew review, if you will. Enjoy, and happy #AmericanCraftBeerWeek!
A few of my favorite craft breweries:
- Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford, Conn.: Two Roads started it all for me. It was the first craft brewery I ever visited and introduced me to the brew life. It will always be a favorite.
- Stony Creek Brewing in Branford, Conn.: As I highlighted in a previous post, Stony Creek is an awesome hangout spot that also happens to brew and serve great beer.
- DuVig Brewing Company in Branford, Conn.: I feel like I've watched DuVig "grow up." The little brewery tucked away in a Branford industrial park complex has evolved quite a bit in its two years and I can't wait to see what's next!
- Thimble Island Brewing Company in Branford, Conn. (Branford is a happening spot for craft beer, apparently): Thimble Island recently expanded to meet popular demand! I've only been to the new spot once but it was crowded – a sure sign of good beer.
- Harpoon Brewery in Boston/Windsor, Vt.: Love, love, love Harpoon's Boston facility (yet to visit the Vermont brewery). The Boston brewery has a huge beer hall to hang out in and eat big, soft, chewy pretzels made with and boiled in Harpoon beer. Plus there is an assortment of dipping sauces and cheeses to choose from. Heaven.
Craft breweries I'm dying to visit:
- Tuckerman Brewing Co. in Conway, N.H.: I have climbed Mount Washington in New Hampshire by way of the Tuckerman Ravine trail, and now I must visit the brewery that took the ravine as its namesake. I've had the Tuckerman Pale Ale many times before, but have never visited the brewery.
- Firefly Hollow Brewing in Bristol, Conn.: I have heard many good things about Firefly Hollow and will need to make the short drive up to Bristol sometime in the very near future. I'm really curious about their Cone Flakes IIPA!
- No Worries Brewing Co. in Hamden, Conn.: It's actually ridiculous that I haven't been to No Worries yet. I live literally down the street parallel to No Worries. Maybe this weekend.
- Atlantic Brewing Company in Bar Harbor, Maine: Visiting Atlantic Brewing Company is the first thing on my to-do list when fiancé Jason and I head to Bar Harbor in August for vacation!
- The Brewer's Art in Baltimore: The Brewer's Art is definitely one of the stops we'll make when Jason and I visit friends and go to baseball games in Baltimore for Memorial Day weekend. They have a "Birdland" pale ale named for the Baltimore Orioles – Jason's team!
I'd like to conclude this post with a moment of silence to mark the end of the craft-ness of Lagunitas Brewing Company. Heineken acquired a 50% stake in the brewery in September 2015, thus Lagunitas is no longer classified as craft.
Still, you should definitely continue drinking Lagunitas beer (or try it if you haven't). And if you're ever in Petaluma, Calif., make a pit stop at the brewery. The smoked pork nachos are incredible.