5 Clues to Deciphering Craft Beer Styles

Understanding what a beer might taste like from its name alone can be a little daunting. Despite the craft beer community’s welcoming nature, it is easy to see why newcomers might feel lost when looking at a beer menu. Wheat, weizen and wit—each are different styles with specific histories and characteristics, but all are fairly similar in composition. It can be confusing!

While some beer styles require a bit of background to understand, one can often make reasonable assumptions about a beer’s character with a small amount of information. Here is a list of five clues that will help you quickly decipher what a beer might taste like before ordering that we wanted to share!

1. Origin/Region

A beer style’s country or region of origin goes a long way in providing clues to what the beer might taste like. The classic beer styles were developed over hundreds of years and were greatly impacted by regional and environmental variables like geography, climate and water chemistry.

Is it impossible to make a German lager outside of Germany? Of course not! As world travel became easier and the science of brewing was better understood, brewers began to mimic water qualities of specific regions and wrangle yeast cells to attain beer qualities once unique to certain ares of the world. Today, many American craft brewers have become skilled at brewing lagers similar to those originally crafted in Bavaria, hoppy IPAs reminiscent of the Burton-on-Trent region (Staffordshire, UK), roasty stouts indicative of Dublin, Ireland, and even the mysteriously tart and complex beers of Flanders, Belgium.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but these geographic-centric terms found in beer style names can offer clues about a beer’s character.

Origin Clues

  • German-style | lager with complex malt character and floral hops
  • Belgian-style | fruity, spicy ales or sour beers
  • English-style | pale ales, porters and stouts with earthy hop character
  • American-style | hop-forward beers with flavors of pine, citrus and resin
  • Belgo-American | fruity and spicy Belgian yeast flavor with American-style hop character

2. Color

You eat with your eyes, right? Well, you drink with them too. Colors play a factor in beer appreciation and have become popular for naming derivatives of classic styles (e.g., black IPA, white IPA). Classic beer styles include a fair number of beers named after their color, and you can often make a good guess of a beer’s malt flavor just by knowing its name and seeing it in a glass.

Color Clues

  • Light/Pale | Flavors: grainy, bread-like | Styles: blonde ale, helles, Belgian-style wit
  • Amber | Flavors: toasty, bread crust | Styles: amber ale, amber lager
  • Brown | Flavors: toast, roasted nuts, chocolate | Styles: brown ale, Marzen, dopplebock
  • Black | Flavors: burnt toast, dark chocolate, coffee, espresso | Styles: dry stout, robust porter, American black ale

3. Special Ingredients

There is no better clue when anticipating what a beer may taste like than having one or more of the star ingredients in the name. Some of these ingredients are so popular that they have become recognized with their own style categories. Special ingredients range in intensity, but there is usually an expectation that the brewer will aim to strike a balance, ensuring that the base style still prevails while the added notes sing.

Common Special Ingredients

  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Fruit | raspberries, strawberries, peaches, cherries, etc.
  • Herb and Spices | cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, heather, etc.

4. Yeast

The type of yeast used in a style has a great impact on the final beer. The standard explanation is that beer is divided into two categories: ales and lagers. Of course, like with most things, a gray area exists. Today’s brewers are using nontraditional yeasts, blending different types of yeast and using traditional yeast in untraditional ways. It’s not quite as cut and dry as ale and lager, but some generalities do exist.

Ales

Ales ferment at warmer temperatures; because of this, they often present more yeast-derived flavors (fruity, sometimes spicy). Usually when you see the term ale, you can anticipate that yeast flavors provide some, if not much, of the flavor you will experience. When you enjoy a Belgian-style dubbel, you tend to taste a lot of fruit. Fruit flavors don’t necessarily mean that there is fruit in the beer, but rather that the yeast used has provided those flavors. We call fruity yeast flavors esters. A common example of esters is seen in German weizens, in the flavor perceived as banana.

Lagers

Lagers ferment at cooler temperatures and create a much “cleaner” beer, allowing you to taste the malt and hops more explicitly. As a test, try tasting an amber ale and amber lager side by side. Both will have generally the same ingredients, but the flavors will differ because of the yeast that was used.

5. Vessel/ Vintage/ Volume

Vessel

Beer that has been aged can pick up the flavors of the vessel it has spent time in. Barrels, are one of the most common aging vessels. If a barrel has never been used, the beer can present flavors of the wood itself, usually oak. Oak flavors can be spicy, woody or even vanilla-like, depending on how the barrel was prepared. If the barrel had been previously used for another beverage (wine or spirits), there may be some residual flavors from those present as well. So if you don’t like the taste of bourbon, beware of a bourbon barrel-aged beer.

Vintage

A vintage denotes the year a beer was produced. While in most cases beer should be enjoyed fresh, there are certain styles that can develop positively when aged. If you see that a beer has a vintage, you can assume it has a relatively high ABV, as alcohol has preservative qualities. Additionally, you might expect the flavors to be more complex when compared to a fresh example of the same beer.

Volume: “These go to 11.”

Volume usually denotes either flavor or strength. Words like “strong,” “sour” and “session” act as clues to what you might experience. These clues, when coupled with your basic understanding of the base style, should allow you to make a solid guess about the beer.

  • Strong ale | an ale of significant alcoholic strength
  • Sweet stout | very dark, sweet, full-bodied, slightly roasty ale
  • Robust porter | substantial, malty dark ale with a complex and flavorful roasty character
  • Session IPA | characteristics of a traditional IPA, but with less alcoholic strength
  • Imperial stout | a stronger version of the original stout style

The Big Picture

Even in the best beer establishments, there won’t always be someone to answer questions about a draught list. Learning the basics about a few of the more common beer styles will go a long way in helping you order something you’ll enjoy!

http://www.craftbeer.com/craft-beer-muses/5-clues-to-deciphering-craft-beer-styles

‘Tis the Season for Winter Craft Beers

We’ve made a list and checked it twice of some of this year’s most anticipated winter seasonals. The flavors and smells indicative of the winter months—cinnamon, spruce, allspice, gingerbread and smoke—are on display in these craft beers that will bring a new dimension to your holiday table. Here’s a list of some great beer to check out this holiday season:

1. Samichlaus

The king of Christmas beers, Samichlaus is the highlight of the holiday season for many beer enthusiasts. It is a rich, aged doppelbock brewed at the Austrian brewery Schloss Eggenberg.

2. Samuel Adams Winter Classics Mix Pack

This mix pack contains a variety of beers. This makes it a nice way to try some unusual beer for beer lovers who are just discovering craft beer. Though it can change from year to year the mix pack often contains Boston LagerOld Fezziwig AleWinter LagerHoliday PorterBlack Lager, andCranberry Lambic.

3. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

How do you say Merry Christmas to a hop-head? With a six pack of Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada. Besides have a pretty significant bitterness at 62 IBUs, this beer is also dry hopped which raises the hops in the aroma and flavor.

4. Samuel Smiths Winter Welcome Ale

Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome is a traditional winter warmer and in many ways has served as the modern benchmark for the style. It is big in flavor and alcohol. Though maltiness dominates it does have a good bit of balancing hops as well as hints of apples and caramel.

5. Odell Brewing Co. Isolation Ale

Odell Brewing brews Isolation Ale as their winter seasonal. This beer is packed with hops character without a lot of the bitterness. It’s a bit unusual as a wintertime beer in that it does not carry the huge, dark malt flavors of many of the others.

6. Avery Brewing Old Jubilation

This is one of those examples of artful, adjunct free beers. Avery brews some pretty amazing beer using only the four traditional ingredients.

Old Jubilation certainly fits in the winter warmer category. With heaps of malt and 8% alcohol, this complex and tasty beer will make a welcome addition to your holiday bar.

7. Bush Noël (Scaldis Noël in the US)

This is how the Belgians make a winter warmer. This beer is rich with lots of malt. Though malt dominates, the complexity from the wilder yeasts Belgians tend to use plus the unusual practice of aging this beer with hops flowers in the vats for four to six weeks, gives this brew unique flavor and character.

8. Schlafly Christmas Ale

If you’re looking for a beer with all of the traditional yuletide flavors, this is it. Schlafly adds cloves and orange peel to this medium bodied ale. This beer says “Christmas” in a very straight forward way.

9. Young’s Winter Warmer

Young’s beers are always solid beers and generally excellent examples of style. Their Winter Warmer is a middle of the road warmer. This would be a good beer to have on hand if your some of guests might not be up to the challenge of some of the bigger beers that I’ve listed above.

10. Your Local Brewery

OK, so this is not a specific beer but I cannot let this opportunity pass on my personal mission to get more people to drink local beer. While I’ve listed some popular beers here that can help you celebrate the season – and there are many, many others – do not overlook that brewery that’s making great beer just a few miles or perhaps even just a few blocks from you. Personally I have two local breweries that make perfectly wonderful winter brews and stopping in for a fresh pint is always a treat. While you should head to the good beer store to stock up on some great seasonal brews you should also stop at the local brewery and see what they’ve whipped up.

(source: http://beer.about.com/od/beerrecommendations/tp/10WinterBeers.htm)

 

Oskar Blues Goes Big in NC Debut

Hey, if you open up a new brewery, you might as well open it up big, right? That’s what is happening at Oskar Blues, where they’re planning to take a run of Ten FIDY Imperial Stout — the first batch made at its new Brevard, N.C. facility,  as far as it can go.

Arguably the most complex brew in the brewery’s seasonal lineup, the Ten FIDY Imperial Stout will be made available in all 32 states where Oskar Blues is distributed thanks to the increased capacity.

And apparently there is room for more. On top of their consistent growth and plans to potentially push into three more states, the announcement includes a mention that a new late winter/early spring seasonal is in the works. Hey, if the space is there, use it.

Release is below.

BREVARD, NC – Oskar Blues is pumped to announce the release of the first batch of the award-winning Ten FIDY Imperial Stout from the East Coast brewery. This much-anticipated seasonal brew is now fermenting in the tanks at both the ColoRADo and NC locations. It’ll be released at parties at both Tasty Weasel Tap Rooms and distributed to all 32 states where Oskar Blues is sold.

Less than nine months after the first North Carolina brew bubbled, the brewers have recreated all seven of Oskar Blues’ regular line-up of beers, finishing with the much-anticipated, highly-coveted Ten FIDY (10.5 percent ABV).

This supremely full-bodied seasonal, that has bulldozed beer connoisseurs, will be available at your favorite watering hole or retailer earlier than ever  this year—in September—thanks, in part, to the new(ish) brewery. Following the successful release of our spring seasonal, GUBNA, the FIDY will be available until February 2014 (or until it sells out), making it a perfect holiday gift beer. Stay tuned, as Oskar Blues plans to brew up a brand new seasonal in 2014 to be sold between the GUBNA and Ten FIDY releases!

The Brevard Ten FIDY release party takes place on Thursday, August 29, 2013, at the NC Tasty Weasel. Come taste the first NC FIDY, plus another special Ten FIDY tap. The night includes a chili cook-off with brewery judges (bring extra chili to share), music from This Mountain, a rockin’ folk band from East Tennessee, Ten FIDY corn hole, and special T-shirts featuring the “First in FIDY” license plate.

Western North Carolinians who visit the brewery will be among the lucky first tasters of this uniquely crafted brew, with its inimitable flavors of chocolate-covered caramel and coffee that hide the hefty 98 IBUs underneath a smooth blanket of malt.

The Longmont Ten FIDY release party will happen on Friday, August 30, 2013, at the ColoRADo Tasty Weasel Tap Room. The night’s offerings will feature a vertical tasting of FIDY from years past, plus a barrel-aged FIDY, a firkin of FIDY Pale, and a Nitro Smidy. Because if its hefty ABV, FIDY is uniquely cellarable and gets bought up and stored by beer geeks nationwide. The nectar becomes even more smooth with age.

An Asheville Ten FIDY release party will take place at Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria on Tuesday, September 3, 2013. Keep an eye out for other bars and restaurants celebrating the return of this boundary-busting brew.

Oskar Blues’ Ten FIDY has been showered with accolades that almost stand up to the size of this behemoth-in-a-can, including:

  • “The biggest, baddest, boldest beer in a can” from Celebrator Beer News
  • “2008 Beer of the Year” The Denver Post
  • “100 Rating” – Ratebeer.com
  • “A-Rating” – Beeradvocate.com
  • Gold Medal – 2010 and 2012 World Beer Championships
  • “Top 51 Beers” – 2011 Beer Magazine

Ten FIDY is a super-strong beer that takes strength to make. This brew is made with an enormous amount of two-row malt, chocolate malt, roasted barley, flaked oats and hops. Ten FIDY’s nearly 5000-pound grain bill is just short of 50 percent specialty malts, which are packaged in 55-lb bags and loaded into the mills by hand. The many bags of oats are poured directly into the mash tuns. The oats and rice hulls have to be lugged up 20-odd stairs to the top of the brew-decks.

“Brewing Ten FIDY is unlike any of the other beers we make. We have to mash-in two batches just to get one kettle filled because we only take the most concentrated wort from each mash. It’s a very time consuming and labor intensive process. This is part of how we make Ten FIDY so unique, rich, and complex,” says Brevard head brewer Noah Tuttle.

Ten FIDY is packaged in 12-ounce CANS and sold in 4-pack carriers, as well as on draft at craft beer retailers, growler fill shops, restaurant, bars and more.

About Oskar Blues Brewery

Founded by Dale Katechis in 1997 as a brewpub and grill, Oskar Blues Brewery launched its craft-brewed beer canning operations in 2002 in Lyons, Colo. It was the first American craft brewery to brew and hand-can its beer. Today there are more than 200 craft breweries canning beer. The original crew used a hand-canning line on a tabletop machine that sealed one can at a time. Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont packaged 59,000 in 2011 and grew to 85,750 in 2012 while opening an additional brewery in Brevard, NC, in late 2012.

Big Franchise Taps Into Marketing Opportunity with Craft Beer

Better Burger, Better Brew

Smashburger’s beer pairings continue to differentiate the brand.

Smashburger cofounder explains craft beer and burger pairing at Chicago event.
Smashburger cofounder Tom Ryan explains a craft beer and burger pairing at a recent Chicago event. Daniel P. Smith.
Inside Smashburger’s newest Chicago-area restaurant, a hip-looking joint in the city’s trendy Lincoln Park neighborhood, company founder and chief concept officer Tom Ryan holds up the brand’s Windy City Burger as if it’s Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Packed with layers of melted Cheddar cheese, haystack onions, lettuce, tomato, and spicy mustard on a pretzel bun, the Windy City Burger is the fast-casual chain’s exclusive offering for the Chicago market and continues Smashburger’s six-year run of creating local burgers across its 209-store national footprint.

“This burger,” Ryan says, “represents the heartiness and boldness that is Chicago.”

In quick time, Ryan turns the floor over to his company’s newest partners from Chicago-based Goose Island, among the nation’s most celebrated breweries. Goose Island’s brewmaster, Brett Porter, and head of education, Suzanne Wolcott, detail how the toasty, caramel malt flavors in Goose Island’s Honker’s Ale complement the Windy City Burger.

The June 20 beer-and-burger pairing launched Smashburger’s 10th relationship with a craft brewer and helped spotlight craft brews’ continued emergence in the limited-service world.

Once reserved for bars and full-service restaurants, craft beers have pushed into fast-casual eateries around the country, available at spots such as Chipotle, Noodles & Company, and Shake Shack. For most craft brewers, growing entry into the quick-service world is a welcome trend that provides expanded market reach and diversification.

“Craft beer is a 30-year-old overnight success story, and there’s no turning back. Localization of the beer market is in every nook of the U.S.,” says Julia Herz, craft beer program director for the Brewers Association.

“By tapping into craft brewing, one of the most energetic and innovative industries out there, we’re able to offer our guests something that is special, high quality, and distinctive.”

According to the Brewers Association, the craft category, which the Association defines as “small and independent” (wording that excludes the Anheuser-Busch InBev–owned Goose Island enterprise), captured 15 percent volume growth and 17 percent dollar growth in 2012. Craft brewing’s total sales share in 2012 was 6.5 percent by volume and 10.2 percent by dollars.

“This tells us there’s a growing segment of customers looking for craft beer and they’ll go where they can to get it and spend more at the places that offer it,” Herz says.

That surging momentum has motivated and inspired quick-service folks like Ryan to bring craft beer into the fold.

Over the last two years, Denver-based Smashburger has created local burger and craft-brew pairings in markets throughout the U.S., including partnerships with Summit Brewing in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Christian Moerlein in Cincinnati, Sixpoint in New York City, New Belgium in Denver, and Deep Ellum in Dallas. Ryan teases future pairings in Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Sacramento, California.

“The idea is that once we have enough stores in a given market, we’ll pursue these partnerships and write the next chapter of our localization,” Ryan says. “We want to cater to local tastes as part of our brand mantra, and local craft beer is something people are gravitating toward.”

The partnerships, Ryan says, are also an effort to differentiate Smashburger in the ultra-competitive better-burger space. Same goes for the pairing suggestions from beverage and culinary experts, which are listed on the menuboard.

“I believe differentiation is the key to success in a highly competitive marketplace,” he says. “By tapping into craft brewing, one of the most energetic and innovative industries out there, we’re able to offer our guests something that is special, high quality, and distinctive.”

Though beer represents less than 4 percent of Smashburger’s total sales, Ryan expects the continued allure of craft beer to elevate that number. In fact, beer sales have jumped 20–50 percent in markets where Smashburger has introduced its craft-beer pairings.

Smashburger, which now has 11 Chicago-area stores, approached Goose Island about a potential partnership in mid-2012. Wolcott says Goose Island leadership appreciated Smashburger’s work to localize its menu and store environments, as well as the chain’s focus on quality.

“We’re a Chicago craft brewer that doesn’t take shortcuts, so we embraced what Smashburger was trying to do because it very much matches our work,” Wolcott says.

Over the course of nearly one year, Ryan, Porter, and Wolcott held numerous tastings to define which of Goose Island’s nearly 20 beers best complemented Smashburger’s signature entrées.

“The only challenge is to do this from an authentic perspective and commit the time to creating the pairings and rolling this out,” Ryan says. “Once in the restaurant, bottled beer isn’t hard to do.”

Ryan says the simultaneous innovation that has occurred in the burger and beer worlds affords his brand the opportunity to evolve America’s favorite food—the burger—and its favorite adult beverage for the next generation.

“With relationships like these, we can show people that burgers and beer are different than they used to be,” Ryan says.

Craft Breweries Top a Record Milestone

U.S. Brewery Count Passes 2500.

A wonderful story from the Brewers Association this week highlights the continued growth, and consumer support of the Craft Beer industry in America.

The number of U.S. breweries continues to climb rapidly. Brewery Detective and Membership Coordinator Erin Glass reported the May 31 U.S. brewery count as 2514. This count is up 422 from the May 31, 2012 count of 2092. The count on May 31, 2011 was 1747. So we are at 767 more breweries in just two years. The annual increase in brewery count from May to May looks like:

2013–2514, an increase of 422 in the past year.

2012–2092, an increase of 345 in the year.

2011–1747, an increase of 132 in the year.

2010–1615, an increase of 93 in the year.

2009–1522, an increase of 63 in the year.

The list includes 24 breweries we code as “large” in our database for A-B, Miller-Coors and breweries named for brands of Goose Island (packaging brewery), Leinenkugel’s and Blue Moon. In addition there are 109 regional breweries, 1214 microbreweries, and 1167 brewpubs.

The number of microbreweries passed the number of brewpubs in February 2013 for the first time since 1987.

Our count of breweries-in-planning is at 1559, up from 1228 a year ago. (But we did purge a couple hundred from the roles last fall and winter.)

It makes me thirsty just to think about our current pace of openings. I wouldn’t expect the rate of opening to continue at over two new breweries per day on average, but it sure looks like I’ll be posting about passing 3000 breweries sometime in 2014. When will this trend crest?

Contributor – Paul Gatza, Brewers Association

8 of the Best Beer Towns in America, 2 Spots Remain

The history of beer in the United States is a rich one dating back to the colonies, when soldiers were paid in spruce beer and cider. From there beer weathered a Revolution, Prohibition and a right turn at Albuquerque before positively exploding with deregulation of the industry through the early 1980s.

Ever since, Americans have been sampling, celebrating and sophisticating the unofficial national beverage in ways previously unimaginable, and it seems nearly every town’s gotten into the act.

But not all cities are carbonated equal. Some have begun to take beer personally, innovating its craft and consumption and throwing festivals to honor the finest ales and lagers — creating a blueprint for the rest of the country to follow. Still others have been doing this all along.

This is the story of those towns, the top eight cities in America for beer explorers. While only 8 made our 2013 Cirqle Media list, we recognize that hundreds of cities from coast to coast and around the globe have a passion and fever for their hometown brew.  I encourage you to list your town and favorite draft or native tap – but be sure to explain why you hold a special spot in your heart for your brew.  You might just make the list to round out our final 10-best cities.

We’ve scored each out of 1-10 for history, breweries, bars and events, and would like to think every one of you will read the whole piece quietly, captions and all, nodding sagely as the indisputable truth of every line hits home. But, this is the Internet and if there’s one place where froth belongs besides the top of your pint of ale, it’s the comment box below.

1. Portland, Oregon

History: 6
Breweries: 10
Bars: 10
Events: 7

Portland boasts more breweries (52) than any city in the world. It’s also America’s largest craft brewing market, with 69 breweries in the greater metro area, owing to state sales regulations that favor consumer tastes over discounts and kickbacks, allowing small brewers to compete with mass marketers.

But the Rose City isn’t just about quantity. PDX is where you’ll find Hopworks Urban Brewery, Alameda Brewing Company, Cascade Brewing, and family-owned Hair Of The Dog, all nationally renowned for their care and creativity.

Fairs like The Oregon Brewer’s Festival, the Portland International Beer Festival, and Portland Beer Week — America’s first organic beer festival — ensure that beer spirit in the city runs high all year, while Biketobeerfest celebrates two things exalted by the region: bikes and beer. Portland is also home to five of Draft magazine’s top 100 craft bars — Saraveza Bottle Shop & Pasty Tavern, Horse Brass Pub, Apex, Bailey’s Tap Room, and Belmont Station.

Top draws: Hopworks Urban Crosstown Pale, Deschutes Hop Trip Ale

2. San Francisco, California

History: 8
Breweries: 9
Bars: 9
Events: 7

The Bay Area is bursting with micro- and nanobreweries that have been experimenting with food-inspired brews like nowhere else. Take Almanac, which uses seasonal produce in its brews, or Moonlight Brewing Company, which picks redwood twigs and cedar bark from brewer Brian Hunt’s own backyard.

There’s history here, too. The sale of Anchor Steam Brewery in the 1960s precipitated the production of several signature beers at a time when mass-marketed light beers were the trend. The following decade saw the opening of New Albion Brewing in Sonoma, the first new brewery in California since Prohibition and the first microbrewery in America.

Following suit have been 21st Amendment Brewery, Speakeasy, Drake’s, Black Diamond and Social Kitchen and Brewery. Notable bars include La Trappe Cafe and The Toronado Pub, which hosts arguably America’s preeminent barleywine festival. And finally, there’s San Francisco’s Beer Week and the San Francisco International Beer Fest.

Top draws: Moylan’s Tipperary Pale Ale, 21st Amendment Brew

3. San Diego, California

History: 5
Breweries: 10
Bars: 9
Events: 8

There are 67 breweries in San Diego and another 13 slated for opening this year. With 60-plus breweries in the county and its own IPA category, San Diego’s a beacon on any beer explorer’s map. For a pint, hit up Jay Porter’s beer-centric restaurant, the Linkery, which offers brew-paired dinners, and Toronado, which boasts an exhaustive beer list.

A trip to San Diego isn’t complete without sampling the suds at Karl Strauss, Ballast Point, Lost Abbey, Green Flash, and Stone Brewing Co., declared by BeerAdvocate magazine the “All-Time Top Brewery on Planet Earth.”

As for events, San Diego was chosen to host the 2012 World Beer Cup — the “Olympics of Beer” — and San Diego Beer Week draws crowds from all over to celebrate 10 days of tastings, pairings and live music. If you visit, don’t miss five San Diego bars mentioned in Draft mag’s top 100 American beer bars: Tiger! Tiger!, Small Bar, O’Brien’s American Pub, Blind Lady Ale House, and Hamilton’s Tavern.

Top draws: Alpine Ale, Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze

4. Boston, Massachusetts

History: 10
Breweries: 7
Bars: 8
Events: 7

The first brewery in Massachusetts emerged not long after the Pilgrims dropped anchor, owing to the fact that beer was safer to drink than the water. Though the Pilgrims were aiming for Virginia, they ran out of brew and stopped in Massachusetts — thus a beer town was born.

Eventually, Boston was blessed with a number of microbreweries, including the best-selling craft brewer in America, Boston Beer Co. — producer of Samuel Adams — and Harpoon Brewery. Notable hits on the bar crawl include Cambridge and Cape Ann Brewing Cos., Deep Ellum and The Publick House, alongside historic pubs like Green Dragon, The Warren Tavern (Boston’s oldest) and Sunset Grill & Tap.

With this lively scene, it’s not hard to believe that Boston consumes the most beer per capita in the United States. It’s also home to the American Craft Beer Fest, the East Coast’s largest celebration of domestic micros, featuring 600+ varieties from 125+ American brewers.

Top draws: Harpoon IPA, Beer Works Bunker Hill Blueberry Ale

5. Denver, Colorado

History: 7
Breweries: 8
Bars: 7
Events: 8

Colorado is fourth out of 50 states in breweries per capita, and while there are only a handful in Denver proper, there are loads of notable breweries outside town and in nearby Boulder.

Neighborhoods like Platte Street and the Art District on Santa Fe are peppered with breweries. Elsewhere you’ll find Avery, Renegade, New Belgium, Strange Brewing, Dry Dock and others, including Bull & Bush, which writer Steve Body declared “may well be America’s best brewpub and restaurant.”

Denver’s first craft brewery, Wynkoop, was opened in 1988 by John Hickenlooper, who went on to become mayor, then governor, extending Denver’s brewer reach to the highest levels of government. Both Wynkoop and Great Divide are a moon shot from Coors Field, and homemade beers at Blue Moon Brewing Co. are found just behind section 112 in left field.

The Mile-High City also stages what is widely regarded the largest, most prestigious beer festival in the country, the annual Great American Beer Festival, drawing sudsmeliers from all over the world to taste more than 2,200 brews.

Top Draws: Denver Graham Cracker Porter, Renegade Hammer and Sickle

6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

History: 9
Breweries: 6
Bars: 8
Events: 7

In the city of brewery love, outfits like Victory, Sly Fox, Nodding Head, Yards and Flying Fish have been vanguards of local brewing since the city’s barley rush of the 1990s. And since 1860, McGillin’s Olde Ale House has been a beloved showcase for those and other local brews longer than any in Philly.

Three less-ancient bars made Draft mag’s top 100 — Eulogy Belgian Tavern, Grey Lodge Public House and Memphis Taproom, which enjoys a sterling reputation despite an endorsement by Guy Fieri. And no beer itinerary is complete without writer Michael Jackson’s favorite spot, Monk’s Cafe, a love letter to Belgian (and other) brews that will awe the savviest palate.

Philly Beer Week is the city’s most hoppening event, but the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Beer Festival, begun in 2011, is already proving a worthy companion. One caveat to all this beer-fueled euphoria: complicated state controls regulate the purchase of packaged beer. Don’t let them kill your buzz.

Top Draws: Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale, Victory Hop Devil IPA

7. Bend, Oregon

History: 5
Breweries: 8
Bars: 8
Events: 8

With one brewery for every 9,111 people, descriptors for Bend include “beervana” and “Beer City, USA.” And that number is constantly changing, with newcomers like Crux Fermentation Project and Worthy Brewing Company recently fattening Bend’s ranks.

Already cemented into Bend beer culture is Deschutes, the godfather of local craft brewing, which recently expanded its flagship location. The Ale Apothecary, like its name suggests, blends modern and old-fashioned brewing techniques for what they’re calling Bend’s only steampunk brewery.

Getting your beer passport stamped at all nine of participating breweries on the Bend Ale Trail will net you a prize, and dog lovers will appreciate Boneyard Beer, where they can try the world’s first organic, non-alcoholic brew made for dogs, Dawg Grogg.

Your itinerary’s bound to overlap at least one of Bend’s annual beer celebrations, like Central Oregon Beer Week, The Little Woody Barrel-Aged Brew & Whiskey Festival, Bend BrewFest, The Fermentation Celebration and Bend Oktoberfest.

Top Draws: Deschutes Inversion IPA, Silver Moon Hound’s Tooth Amber

8. Asheville, North Carolina

History: 5
Breweries: 7
Bars: 7
Events: 9

Yes, Asheville. It’s relatively new to the beer scene, but with 11 breweries yielding the highest per-capita total in the country, it’s already building a global rep. A day trip to Asheville offers a chance to try roughly 50 local beers, almost all of which can be tasted at The Thirsty Monk, a must-see on any Ashevillian beer pilgrimage.

But it’s less the number of breweries or bars here than it is the culture that earns Asheville its cred. There is serious pride in the local craft, and its small-town appeal means all you have to do is roll over and you’ll find yourself in one of the city’s renowned breweries, like Wedge, Green Man and Wicked Weed.

The city also pumps beer into mustards, shampoos, ice creams, cakes, dog biscuits, and soaps. And with at least five major beer events, Asheville keeps the party going all year round with its own Oktoberfest, Beer Week and Winter Warmer, Best Firkin, Beer City and Brewgrass Festivals.

Top Draws: Asheville Shiva IPA, French Broad Ryehopper

Celebrate American Craft Beer Week from Coast to Coast

In support of Craft Breweries from coast to coast, Cirqle Media and Brewing-A-Brand would like to encourage all our craft beer fans to get out and celebrate their love for our nations’ best hops, barley and wheat.  From May 13-19, craft beer connoisseurs and beginners alike will come together for the eighth annual celebration of American Craft Beer Week (ACBW). With the tagline “Big Week, Small Breweries,” ACBW is an opportunity to toast the more than 2,400 small and independent American craft brewers who continue to make the U.S. the world’s most diverse brewing destination. Once again, ACBW celebrations are expected to be held across all 50 states.

“The popularity of American Craft Beer Week is indicative of the craft beer renaissance that continues to captivate the U.S.,” said Julia Herz, publisher of CraftBeer.com and craft beer program director at the Brewers Association. “This week is about uniting for a common cause: support and celebration of our nation’s small and independent brewers and the millions of beer lovers who have helped evolve an industry and put the U.S. on the brewing map.”

New for 2013 is the American Craft Beer Week Coast to Coast Toast. For the first time ever, ACBW will be commemorated by a simultaneous toast. At 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT on Thursday, May 16, small brewers and craft beer lovers nationwide will raise a glass of their favorite craft brewed beer to toast ACBW and the delicious beer that it celebrates. To find a toast location near you, visit the official American Craft Beer Week events page, hosted by CraftBeer.com.

American Craft Beer Week Manifesto

Additionally, craft beer fans from across the country can sign the American Craft Beer Week Manifesto, pledging their support to craft beer and their love for “the artisans who approach their craft with originality, dedication and passion.” From tap takeovers and tasting tours to food pairings and festivals, ACBW will be celebrated in many ways across the U.S. To find a local celebration, event or promotion, visit the above-mentioned ACBW events page.  A selection of scheduled 2013 celebrations includes:

American Craft Beer Week National Toast
Coast to Coast Toast to Craft Beer w/Stone Brewing Co.; Westerly, RI
ACBW Coast to Coast Toast at Iron Horse Taproom; Washington, D.C.
American Craft Beer Week Toast at Howells & Hood; Chicago, IL
Coast to Coast Toast to Boulder’s Craft Beer Phenomenon; Boulder, CO

Craft Breweries
Gritty McDuff’s Brewpub 25th Anniversary Celebration; Portland, ME
Mayflower Brewing Company 4th Annual Open House; Plymouth, MA
Anaheim Brewery Founder’s Day; Anaheim, CA
5th Annual Short’s to Short’s Paddle; Bellaire, MI
Meet the Brewers of the San Francisco Brewers Guild; San Francisco, CA
Rahr & Sons Summertime Wheat Glass Night; Dallas, TX
Right Brain Brewery – ACBW Firkin’ Friday; Traverse City, MI

Craft Beer Festivals
3rd Annual Ameri-CAN Canned Craft Beer Festival; Scottsdale, AZ
HopFest Kansas City 2013; Kansas City, MO
Brewers Association of MD “Maryland Craft Beer Festival”; Frederick, MD
2013 Wort Transformation Awards Ceremony; Papillion, NE
Third Annual Brews with Attitude Craft Beer Festival; Tampa, FL
Third EVER Mother’s Day Festival; Springfield, MO
Wheatstock; Lincoln Park, MI

Food and Beer Events
American Craft Beer Week – Spokane Style!; Spokane, WA
4 Course Dinner and Pairing Featuring Uinta Brewing Co.; Salt Lake City, UT
Elevation Beer Co. – Chef vs. Chef; Louisville, CO
Knee Deep Beer Dinner at 775 Gastropub; Reno, NV
Beer & Cheese Tasting with Teton Valley Creamery and 460 Bread; Victor, ID

Craft Beer Tastings and Tours
Brewery Rickoli American Craft Beer Week Releases; Wheat Ridge, CO
Crow Peak Night at the Ale House; Rapid City, SD
Old Chicago Tap Takeover featuring Odell Brewing Co.; All Colorado Locations
Roughtail Oaked Imperial Black Rye Ale Release at Tapwerks; Oklahoma City, OK
Shmaltz Brewing Media Ribbon Cutting Ceremony; Clifton Park, NY
Portsmouth Brewery – Brewing with Botanicals; Portsmouth, NH

State and Regional Beer Weeks Also Happening During ACBW
Chicago Craft Beer Week
Frederick Beer Week (MD)
Lexington Craft Beer Week (KY)
Long Island Craft Beer Week
San Antonio Beer Week
Santa Ynez Valley Beer Month (CA)
Seattle Beer Week
Session Beer Month

The 20 Craft Breweries Taking Over America

The number of craft beer makers in America is growing at record speed. More than 400 new craft breweries opened their doors in 2012, according to the Brewer’s Association. Craft brewers still make up only 6.5% of the total beer market. But enthusiasts are confident that number will continue to grow. This past week, the Brewers Association released its list of the top craft breweries in 2012, based on sales volume. We put together some information on the top 20, which beer lovers should keep on their radar. Share some of your favorite breweries with us in the comments section below.

20. Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Location: Paso Robles, Calif.

About: The brewery was founded in 1996 by a pair of brothers-in-law. It’s now a four-time World Beer Cup champion.

Beer buzz: Firestone Walker’s Parabola Imperial Stout is coming out this month. The beer is a doozy at 13 percent alcohol by volume and is noted for its “bold bourbon, espresso and tobacco aromas.”

19. Great Lakes Brewing Company

Location: Cleveland, Ohio

About: The brewery was founded in 1998 by Daniel and Patrick Conway. It jumped from producing 1,000 barrels of beer its first year to 125,000 barrels annually today.

Beer buzz: The company’s Burning River Pale Ale has won a gold medal at the World Beer Championships eight times. The name hails from the infamous 1969 burning of the Cuyahoga River.

18. Long Trail Brewing Co.

Location: Bridgewater Corners, Vt.

About: The brewery got its start in 1989 in the basement of a woolen mill. It’s focused on environmentalism and gives its used grain and hops as a feed supplement to local dairy cows.

Beer buzz: The company has an interesting story behind its 5.5 percent Pumpkin Pale Ale: “During colonial times malted barley would be in short supply so the colonial brewers would use a wide assortment of whatever organic ingredient was handy. Pumpkin was in abundance so it was one of the most common of the random ingredients.”

17. New Glarus Brewing Co.

Location: New Glarus, Wisc.

About: This small-town brewery is owned by Dan and Deborah Clarey. Deborah is noted as the first woman to found and operate a brewery in the U.S.

Beer buzz: The beer’s year-round Spotted Cow Ale showcases Wisconsin’s farmers with “a hint of corn.” Some of its best pairings are noted as steak, bacon and eggs and cheese curds.

16. Alaskan Brewing Co.

Location: Juneau, Alaska

About: The brewery was founded by Marcy and Geoff Larson in 1986, Juneau’s first brewery since Prohibition. The website says its beer still have many aspects of the beers brewed during the Gold Rush era.

Beer buzz: Alaskan’s seasonal Smoked Porter is known for the smoke in its bottles, which allows the beers to age much like wine. After being kept in the bottle for three or four years, it’s said to have “sherry, currant, raisin, and toffee-like nuances.”

 

15. Shipyard Brewing Co.

Location: Portland, Maine

About: The brewery was founded in the 1990s by Fred Forsley and Alan Pugsley. It’s one of New England’s largest microbreweries.

Beer buzz: Shipyard is best known for its Pumpkinhead Pale Ale. Last July, the company started brewing the ale at a second location in Memphis to help it meet the high demand. The fall brew is now packaged in cans as well.

14. Abita Brewing Co.

Location: Abita Springs, La.

About: In 1986, this brewery got its start outside of New Orleans. It now brews more than 151,000 barrels of beer and 9,100 barrels of root beer.

Beer buzz: Abita generated some attention last summer when it started packaging its beers in cans, a tactic most craft brewers don’t yet use. The company also came out with a new 4.4 percent summer brew this season, Lemon Wheat.

13. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Location: Milton, Del.

About: Dogfish Head got its start in 1995 by Sam Calagione, named after a city in Maine. The company, which also makes spirits, produces mainly “extreme” beers that often have quirky flavors and are highly alcoholic.

Beer buzz: One of Dogfish’s most notorious brews is its 90-Minute IPA. The beer is 9 percent alcohol by volume and is continuously hopped for a strong IPA flavor.

 

12. Boulevard Brewing Co.

Location: Kansas City, Mo.

About: Boulevard’s first beers were brewed in 1989 by John McDonald and delivered to a local restaurant in the back of a pickup truck. Now, the company distributes its beers in 24 states and is the largest specialty brewer in the Midwest.

Beer buzz: The company recently paired with Farmland Foods to create a new beer brat. The sausages are made using Boulevard’s Pale Ale and Unfiltered Wheat beers and will be available inside the Kansas City Royals stadium.

11. Brooklyn Brewery

Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.

About: The brewery was founded by 1988 by Steve Hindy and Tom Potter. It recently doubled its capacity and is expanding even further this year.

Beer buzz: The brewery’s Brooklyn Blast! IPA uses both English and American hops. According to its website, “Minerally hop bitterness is followed by a shock wave of flavor and aroma. You won’t even know what hit you.”

10. Stone Brewing Co.

Location: Escondido, Calif.

About: Stone Brewing was founded in 1996 in Southern California. Its CEO Greg Koch and President Steve Wagner describe themselves on its website with the taglines “Fizzy yellow beer is for wussies!” and “High priest of yeast.”

Beer buzz: The company’s Arrogant Bastard Ale gets a lot of attention, and the company likes to brag about it. Its described online as an “unprecedented and uncompromising celebration of intensity.”

9. Harpoon Brewery

Location: Boston, Mass.

About: Harpoon opened its doors in 1986, run by college friends Rich Doyle and Dan Kenary. At the time, it was the first brewery to operate in Boston in more than 25 years.

Beer buzz: The company’s strongest beer is the Imperial IPA, at 10 percent alcohol by volume. Its brewed with pale and caramel malts and is said to “pack a whallop.”

8. Matt Brewing Co.

Location: Utica, N.Y.

About: This company has been in business for more than a century. It was founded by a German immigrant and is currently run by family descendants, Nick and Fred Matt. Their main label is the Saranac line of beers.

Beer buzz: The Saranac White IPA is one of the brewery’s core beers. It gives a twist on a typical IPA with hints of orange peel, wheat malt, oats and coriander.

7. Bell’s Brewery, Inc.

Location: Galesburg, Mich.

About: Larry Bell founded Bell’s in 1985. According the website, his first batches were brewed in a 15-gallon soup kettle and self-delivered by employees. Now, the company brews more than 500,000 gallons of beer each year.

Beer buzz: The company’s fruity Oberon Ale is one of its most well-known, coming out during the spring and summer. The brewery also produces an exclusive “remarkably drinkable” double IPA in the winter called Hopslam, which packs a punch at 10 percent alcohol by volume.

6. Lagunitas Brewing Co.

Location: Petaluma, Calif.

About: The company was founded by a team of brew fans from across the nation in the mid-1990s. Its owned by Tony Magee and now also operates a brewery in Chicago.

Beer buzz: Lagunitas’ brews are known for their tongue-in-cheek descriptions. The company’s Maximus IPA contains “flavor so hoppy it threatens to remove the enamel from one’s teeth.”

5. Deschutes Brewery

Location: Bend, Ore.

About: Deschutes got its start in 1988 by Gary Fish. The company encourages the public to drop by the breweries in Bend and Portland to meet the “beer-obsessed folks” behind the brews.

Beer buzz: The Mirror Pond Pale Ale earned a gold medal at this year’s International Brewing Awards. The beer is the company’s recommended starter for beer beginners and is known for being brewed “unmistakably right.”

4. The Gambrinus Co.

Location: San Antonio, Texas

About: The company started as a beer importer when it was founded in 1986 by Carlos Alvarez. It now owns craft breweries including craft breweries including Trumer Brauerei Brewery and BridgePort Brewing Company.

Beer buzz: BridgePort’s Blue Heron Pale Ale was named for Portland’s official bird. It ranks high on maltiness and low on hoppiness.

3. New Belgium Brewing Co.

Location: Fort Collins, Colo.

About: New Belgium got its start in Jeff Lebesch’s basement in 1989 with his Abbey and Fat Tire beers. Lebesch no longer works at the company, but the craft brewery continues to be successful.

Beer buzz: Fat Tire, an amber ale, remains one of the brewery’s most famous beers. It has sweet and caramel malts and a “flash of fresh hop bitterness.”

2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Location: Chico, Calif.

About: Ken Grossman founded Sierra Nevada in 1979 near his favorite hiking grounds. He started with the Sierra Nevada Stout, which has kept the same basic recipe since.

Beer buzz: The company releases speciality Beer Camp brews each year. The beers are developed during a literal “beer camp” by some of Sierra Nevada’s biggest fans and released as solely on-tap specialties.

1. Boston Beer Co.

Location: Boston, Mass.

About: Boston Brewing is most famous for being the creator of Samuel Adams. The beer was first released in 1985 by Jim Koch, who came from a family of five generations of brewmasters.

Beer buzz: The company’s most famous brew remains the Samuel Adams Boston Lager. But it has a fleet of more than 20 other beers, including the Grumpy Monk Belgian IPA and Blueberry Hill Lager.

Nine Beers Americans No Longer Drink

Craft Breweries are Taking a Bite Out of Macro-Brew Sales

After three years of declining sales, shipments of domestically sold beer are up by more than 1% in the United States this year. While sales of specialty, craft, and small-market beers have improved dramatically, many of the traditional, full-calorie beers that were once the staples of most breweries have fallen behind. In the five years ending in 2011, sales of Budweiser, which was once the top-selling beer in the country for years, have fallen by 7 million barrels. Sales of Michelob are down more than 70%. Based on data provided by Beer Marketer’s INSIGHTS, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the nine large — or once-large — beer brands with a five-year decline in sales of 30% or more.

While regular, full-calorie beer was once the mainstream, now light has become the primary beer of choice. Budweiser, once by far the most popular beer, has now fallen to third place in domestic sales, with 17.2 million barrels shipped in 2011, compared to Coors Light’s 17.4 million. The U.S. beer leader is, by a long shot, Bud Light, with 39.15 million barrels sold last year.

Budweiser did not quite make the 30% decline in sales cutoff for our list, but many other traditional brews did. Old Milwaukee, Milwaukee’s Best and Miller Genuine Draft have all lost 50% of their sales since 2006. Michelob shipped 500,000 barrels domestically in 2006, but sold just 140,000 in 2011.

While light beer has supplanted full-calorie beer in popularity, sales of most leading light brands have been flat over the past several years. In fact, many of the beers on our list with the biggest declines are light beers that either didn’t catch on or faded out of popularity. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Beer Marketer’s INSIGHTS executive editor Eric Shepard explained that it is specialty beers and craft beers — not light beer — that have eaten into sales of traditional full-calorie beer in the past year.

Shepard explained that like most major brand-centered industries, the beer industry has entered a period of aggressively marketing new brands and flavors. “I think that part of the reason that brewers felt we had three down years was primarily the economy… but it was also a lack of innovation, and so now you’re seeing [the beer industry] rev up these things,” he said. “The buzzword for this year was innovation.”

To combat the growing popularity of craft brews, major breweries such as Anheuser-Busch Inbev (NYSE: BUD) and MillerCoors have aggressively marketed their own specialty beer. Bud Light Platinum, which debuted during the Super Bowl, has been very successful, beating most expectations. Shock Top, also produced by Anheuser-Busch, sold 600,000 barrels last year, more than double the previous year’s sales. Another Belgian white beer, Blue Moon, which is sold by MillerCoors, was the 18th-most popular beer sold last year. Shepard expects the focus on nontraditional brews to continue at least through next year. This will likely further reduce sales of the declining brands on our list.

24/7 Wall St. identified the nine beers Americans no longer drink based on INSIGHTS top 50 beer brands with at least 500,000 barrels in sales in either 2006 or 2011 with sales declines of 30% or more over the same period. Sales for flavored malt beverages and craft beers were excluded from the analysis.

These are the nine beers Americans no longer drink.

9. Milwaukee’s Best Light
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 35.5%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels sold (2011): 1.2 million

Milwaukee’s Best Light, according to SABMiller, one half of MillerCoors, is a “leading low-calorie beer in the near-premium segment.” Although the brand has been on shelves since 1986, in recent years customers have abandoned the beer. Sales volume dropped by more than a third between 2006 and 2011, versus a decline of just 4% for all top brands. Last year, Milwaukee’s Best Light sold 750,000 barrels, 5.8% less than in 2010. Meanwhile, sales for the top brands fell by just 1.7% during that time.

8. Miller High Life Light
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 37.6%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels sold (2011): 390,000

Miller High Life Light was first sold in 1994 as the low-calorie version of Miller High Life, often referred to as “the champagne of beers.” But while customers have continued buying the original Miller High Life — sales declined just 3.6% between 2006 and 2011 — they have deserted the light version — which saw sales decline by more than ten times that number. In 2011, sales fell by 80,000 barrels, or 17%, from 2010.

7. Amstel Light
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 47.7%
> Brewer: Heineken
> Barrels sold (2011): 340,000

Debuting in 1980, Amstel Light claims to have been the first imported light beer available in the U.S. The brand, brewed by Heineken, is the only imported beer, as well as the only beer not brewed by Anheuser-Busch InBev or MillerCoors, on this list. Neither of these brewers experienced a sales decline as large as that of Heineken between 2010 and 2011, when U.S. sales volume fell by 3.9%. One cause was Amstel Light sales, which fell by 13.9% — more than any other major Heineken brand.

6. Miller Genuine Draft
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 52.3%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels sold (2011): 1.6 million

Miller Genuine Draft, marketed as having “the fresh taste of draft beer in a bottle,” has lost consumers’ attention in recent years. It was one of just six beers that had sales volume fall by half between 2006 and 2011. During this time, the total number of Miller Genuine Draft barrels sold fell by 1.7 million, more than any other beer on this list. Only one other brand bottled by MillerCoors — Miller Lite — had a larger decline in barrels sold over this time span.

[More from 24/7 Wall St.: Best and Worst Run States in America]

5. Old Milwaukee
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 52.8%
> Brewer: Pabst Brewing Company
> Barrels sold (2011): 460,000

Old Milwaukee is brewed by the Pabst Brewing Company, which sold itself to C. Dean Metropoulos — described by The New York Times as “a veteran food executive known for corporate turnarounds” — in 2010. Last year, the Chicago Tribune reported that employees felt Metropoulos’ marketing plans were moving the company away from the philosophies and practices that made it successful. From 2010 to 2011 alone, sales decreased by 12.4% — worse than 80% of top brands.

4. Milwaukee’s Best
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 57.1%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels sold (2011): 750,000

MillerCoors claims that Milwaukee’s Best is “brewed for a man’s taste,” and is “highly drinkable [and] highly affordable.” However customers have stopped buying — and drinking — the brand. Between 2006 and 2011, no major brand made by MillerCoors had a larger percentage decrease in sales. The beer is one of the worst-ranked brews on BeerAdvocate.com.

3. Budweiser Select
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 60.8%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev
> Barrels sold (2011): 775,000

Budweiser Select, introduced in 2005, claims to offer a “distinctively full flavor,” with just 99 calories per 12-ounces — roughly the same as Michelob Ultra. The brand has not sold well since its introduction, with sales declining by 1.2 million barrels between 2006 and 2011 — more than all but a few top brands. In 2009, Anheuser-Busch InBev also introduced Budweiser Select 55, which the company describes as “the lightest beer in the world with fewer calories than any other beer option currently available.”

2. Michelob Light
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 66.3%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev
> Barrels sold (2011): 425,000

From 2006 to 2011 shipments of Michelob Light fell by 66.3%, more than any other major light beer in the U.S. While sales of Michelob Light declined, sales of Michelob Ultra — introduced in 2002, with just 95 calories per 12 ounces — rose by 10.3% from 2006 to 2011. Anheuser-Busch InBev no longer prominently markets the beers on its websites alongside the better-selling Michelob Ultra. Between 2010-2011, sales of Michelob light fell by 19%, more than all but two of the top brands we reviewed.

1. Michelob
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 72.0%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev
> Barrels sold (2011): 140,000

American consumers have abandoned Michelob — a lager brewed since 1896 — at a faster rate than any other beer. From 2006 to 2011, sales declined from 500,000 barrels to 140,000, with a 20% drop between 2010 and 2011 alone. No other beer on this list sold less than Michelob. The next-lowest selling beer, Amstel Light, still sold 200,000 barrels more than Michelob last year. The brand has not always struggled. According to Beer Marketer’s INSIGHTS’ Eric Shepard, “the superpremium category — basically between Budweiser and the imports — Michelob pretty much had that to itself for many years.”

Contributing Writers: Michael B. Sauter and Alexander E.M. Hess | 24/7 Wall St

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