5. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
> Location: Milton, Delaware
In 1995, Sam Calagione opened Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, a brewpub and restaurant with, in Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach. Brewing operations expanded, and the main brewery moved inland to Milton. Here, Dogfish Head became one of the early proponents of so-called extreme beer, generally higher in alcohol than ordinary brews and flavored with unusual ingredients — for instance, its Bourbon Barrel-Aged Fruit-Full Fort, made with four kinds of fresh berries and boasting a 17% ABV. Now the nation’s 13th-largest craft beer producer by sales volume, Dogfish Head merged last year with the Boston Beer Co. (see No. 2), though the operations remain separate.
4. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
> Location: Chico, California
Sierra Nevada, which was born in 1980, is one of the largest craft producers in America — due in part to the fact that the California original expanded with a brewery in Mills River, North Carolina, in 2015. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the concern’s best-known brew, but the extensive range includes Kellerweis (a Bavarian-style wheat beer), Hop Bullet (a double IPA), and Narwahl (an Imperial stout) — and after 2018’s Camp Fire destroyed much of Butte County, Sierra Nevada’s California home, they release a fundraising Resilience Butte County Proud IPA.
3. Goose Island Brewery
> Location: Chicago, Illinois
There is some disagreement in the beer community as to whether Goose Island should be considered a craft beer or not. It started life as a Chicago brewpub in 1988, expanding to a full-scale brewery in 1995. It continued to grow, and was acquired by brewing giant Anheuser-Busch (now Anheuser-Busch InBev) in 2011. Though the Chicago facility continues to produce the brand’s high-end bottlings, its biggest-selling beers — including 312 Urban Wheat Ale and Honker’s Ale — are produced at other several Anheuser-Busch breweries.
2. Boston Beer Co.
> Location: Boston, Massachusetts
With the distinction of being America’s second-largest craft brewery in sales volume (first place is held by Pennsylvania’s D.G. Yuengling & Son), Boston Beer Co. — whose most famous offering is Samuel Adams Boston Lager — was founded in 1984. Today, in addition to a range of Samuel Adams beers, it owns Delaware’s Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (see No. 5), as well as Twisted Tea Hard Iced Tea, Angry Orchard Hard Cider, and several other brands.
1. New Belgium Brewing Co.
> Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
New Belgium founders fell in love with Belgian-style beers on a bike trip through Belgium, and launched their brewery in their basement in 1991. One of their first offerings, an amber ale called Fat Tire, became their emblematic brew. In addition to what evolved into a full-scale Colorado facility, New Belgium opened a second brewery in Asheville, North Carolina. Formerly 100% employee-owned — it was bought late last year by Lion Little World Beverages, a subsidiary of Japan’s Kirin Holdings Co. — New Belgium is an environmentally conscious company: It boasts one of Colorado’s largest solar arrays and has its own wastewater treatment plant;, and is a member of 1% for the Planet, a global environmental solutions movement.