20 Best Breweries In The US, Ranked

CORRECTION 3/23/23:  A previous version of this article stated Funky Buddha is located in the Tampa area, it is in Boca Raton, Florida.

Outside of the U.S., beer drinkers might poo-poo the American beer scene because all they are accustomed to are the watery exports of Budweiser and Miller. However, in all actuality, the United States has emerged as one of the leaders in the brewing industry, often taking charge of developing new, exciting styles.

While the U.S. toiled in beer production purgatory following the repeal of prohibition, all of that began to change when President Jimmy Carter signed a small but groundbreaking bill, making home brewing legal. It took a little bit of time, but that eventually led to several new craft breweries in the 1980s. Many of the breweries that started in this time period were done so not by professionals, but individuals ready to take their home brewing to the next level. The trend slowly grew, and by the 2000s, microbreweries had expanded throughout much of the United States. While some truly tremendous breweries are out there, here are some of the very best in the country.

20. Sante Adairius

Sante Adairius, like several other breweries on this list, focuses on emulating the art of Belgian-style beers. Belgium, more than anywhere else, is known for its quality of beer and its variety, making it the perfect brewing mentor for anyone who loves beer and wants the freedom to experiment. Sante Adairius enjoys experimenting with various bacteria strands and yeast types, to see what kind of new flavors they can produce. This is done with the help of various forms of aging, as well.

The beers available through Sante Adairius are often seasonal, and typically sold via individual bottles. Some of the beers you can find include Inside Voice, a double barrel-aged barleywine, Variations On A Theme, a blend of barrel-aged saisons, and Queen of the Season, an oak-aged saison. We're fans of this brewery, but there are others on this list that blow us away even more.

19. Firestone Walker

Firestone Walker is essentially the step-brother to Ommegang. They also share a similar backstory to a number of other breweries. Two friends began home-brewing and, once they found a few recipes they absolutely loved, they eventually moved to Paso Robles, California, and started producing beer on a larger scale in 2001. The brewery expanded slowly, but it was focused more on quality rather than expansion. It eventually caught the eye of Duvel Moortgrat, who scooped the brewery in 2015. Duvel did not change recipes or mandate expansion though. Instead, it brought in additional technology and experience, which has helped Firestone Walker expand its portfolio, making it one of the best breweries in the United States.

In case you're wondering, the North American breweries Duvel owns are Ommegang, Firestone Walker, and Boulevard. Notable European brands the brewery owns include Liefmans and La Chouffe.

18. Ballast Point

Here's another brewery that doesn't receive the same attention it once did. There's no denying the Ballast Point Sculpin IPA helped usher in the modern IPA. It remains a classic, which is why it is still in production. Located in San Diego since its inception in 1996, the brewery has won all kinds of awards, including the 2010 Small Brewery Champion at the World Beer Cup.

Much like other breweries that opened during the '80s and '90s, Ballast Point started out as a gathering of home brewers who wanted to pool together and work on something bigger. Formulating their plan inside the San Diego Home Brew Mart, they began experimenting with different styles, ingredients, and techniques, which helped lead to the creation of the Sculpin IPA.

17. Alpine Beer Company

Based in Alpine, California, Alpine makes some of the most respected and well-received IPAs in the country. The company is also one of the first breweries to nearly entirely focus on the pursuit of IPAs, one of the most popular beers you'd find at a brewery. When it was founded in 1999, most breweries were focusing on more traditional, lighter beers, such as brown or wheat ales. While Alpine Beer Company did produce a few of these, including an Irish red, most of the beers, including its Duet, Nelson, and Infinite Haze, are all IPAs.

The tagline for the company is, after all, "The Home of Pure Hoppiness," so if you are an IPA lover, you know you're in a good spot. Brewers along the Pacific helped influence each other, as many of the older craft breweries in the country are located in California, Oregon, and Washington.

16. Founders Brewing Company

Founders Brewing Company is, technically, Canal Street Brewing. However, due to the graphic design on the original "Founders Pale Ale," customers believed Founders to be the actual name of the brand. So, instead of trying to undo what people believed to be the brand name, the founders just went with the flow, and the name "Founders Brewing Company" has stuck ever since. All of this dates back to the brewery's founding in 1997. Like many of the breweries on this list, it has since been bought out, although this has had little impact on the beer it produces, but instead has helped expand its distribution footprint.

Founders more or less created the bourbon barrel aging movement long before it became trendy. While it is a popular style today, Founders began bourbon barrel aging its Kentucky Breakfast Stout back in 2003. It's a classic, well-loved brewery.

15. Ommegang Brewing Company

Ommegang helped introduce the United States to Belgian-style beer. Legendary Belgian brewery Duvel Moortgat helped establish this brewery in Cooperstown, New York in 1997, and the brewery itself gives off a Belgian countryside brewery vibe. The brewery is named for the Brussels Ommegang Festival, Ommegang meaning "coming together."

If you were into the world of craft beer before it took over, you might remember finding Ommegang bottles displayed alongside Chimay and other Belgian beers at World Market and other international import stores. One of these original Ommegang beers to find itself in such stores included the Abbey Dubbel, a Trappist-style dark ale. In the years to follow, the brewery has expanded and now features a 100-seat restaurant and an expansive tasting room and patio. This is a fantastic side trip for anyone out visiting the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

14. Side Project Brewing Company

This smaller brewery continues to pump out some of the best beer in the country. Almost all of the beer put out is barrel-aged, which the brewery has been doing before it became popular and trendy in the United States. They will likely continue to do the same thing even after the craft beer scene moves on to another trend. We love and respect a brewery that doesn't simply follow trends, the folks there follow what their taste buds want to drink.

Founders Cory and Karen first started brewing beer in their small apartment (no word as to if apartment management was cool with that) and then moved to St. Louis in 2007. They continued to tinker with their craft beer until they sold their first Side Project beer 10 years ago in 2013. The new brewing company hasn't looked back since.

13. Bottle Logic Brewing

Are you visiting Disneyland but need a break from the mouse ears and hours of standing in line? Stop by Bottle Logic Brewing. This Anaheim brewery has been pumping out the good stuff since 2013. The brewery likes to experiment with international flavors, including a number of Japanese rice lagers. Other beers produced by the brewery include the Moon Lava pale ale, She Shot Fire IPA, and Hop Topic Imperial IPA.

Bottle Logic hit Southern California at the beginning of a major craft beer boom, as, according to the LA Times, a half-dozen opened in the months that followed. In the years since its inception, the brewery has continued to expand its portfolio, including the Infrared Mode Fruit Punch beer (which it markets as a hard seltzer).

12. Dogfish Head Brewing Company

Dogfish Head sadly doesn't receive the kind of attention it once did, but for anyone over the age of 30, Dogfish Head helped usher them into the world of craft beer. Back before massive distribution, it was one of the few beers available in other states. Its 60, 90, and 120 Minute IPAs helped create an industry of strongly hopped beers, and the brewery continues to experiment with all kinds of unique flavors and brewing techniques. Midas Touch, for example, is a beer based on a beverage found within King Midas' tomb.

Using scientists to break down the crusted compound, as well as the ingredients that were likely available at the time, Dogfish Head crafted a beer using honey, saffron, and grapes. It is truly unlike any other beer worth tracking down, much like Dogfish Head is unlike any other brewery. It is why Dogfish Head deserves to always be mentioned as one of the top, most influential breweries in the country.

11. Toppling Goliath Brewing Company

Toppling Goliath has brought some of the best beers in the United States to Iowa. It first opened in 2009 and makes some amazingly delicious beers, including its popular double IPA King Sue, and Seismic Sue (a triple IPA).

The brewery has expanded to include a rather wide range of beers throughout the year. It now has, as of 2023, over 40 beers in rotation during the year. Many of these beers are limited edition releases that are brewed in small batches (don't worry, the popular King Sue is one of the year-round productions). While the various Sue beers helped put the brewery on the map, it is the Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout that is now one of the most sought-after beers, not only by the brewery but by any brewery in the United States.

10. Hill Farmstead Brewing Company

Hill Farmstead is another one of the new waves of breweries, as it opened back in 2010. However, while the brewery didn't pop up until a little over a decade ago, the Hill family farm has existed for far longer. The original Hill family migrated to Greensboro, Vermont in 1788 and eventually opened a farm, focusing on crops and dairy products. The farm continued to evolve, although the production of beer didn't begin until the most recent members of the most recent generation of understudied brewing professionals in Denmark.

When they returned in 2009, the family began producing beer, and the Hill Farmstead Brewing Company was born the following year. The brewery now produces beer in all kinds of styles, but the only way you can purchase the beer is to visit the brewery.

9. Funky Buddha Brewing Company

Funky Buddha is a Boca Raton brewery that opened in 2010. While we're not totally sure whether or not the Buddha would be down with indulging in alcoholic beverages, the brewery gives off a chill and, yes, funky vibe, in just about everything it does. From the beer labels it puts out to the interior feel of its on-site brew pub, in the words of the brewery itself, it's all about "Keepin' it funky."

Following its initial launch as a small brewpub in Boca Raton, the brewery eventually expanded out to produce a number of award-winning beers, including No Crusts and Maple Bacon Coffee Porter. In more recent years, the brewery has expanded its portfolio to include a number of fruit-centric seltzers.

8. Bells Brewing Company

Bells is a mainstay in the world of craft beer. It is one of the original craft breweries in the United States. It opened in Comstock (just outside of Kalamazoo), Michigan in 1985, making it a true pioneer in the beer industry. It has a number of well-reviewed beers, but few can compete with the importance of its Two Hearted Ale, which is a river in Michigan that legendary author Ernest Hemingway wrote about. And in an interesting tidbit, Bells owns Upper Hand Brewery, which is a different brewery located in the state's Upper Peninsula.

The history of the brand's beer dates all the way back to 1976 when Larry Bell started to brew beer with friends out of a soup pot. Eventually, Larry and some friends opened a home brew shop, where others with a love for craft beer could buy home brew equipment. The Amber Ale became the first brewed beer. Distribution in pockets around the state picked up in the late 1980s, with Indiana and Wisconsin expansion taking place in 1990. Legendary beers Oberon came out in 1992, and Two Hearted made its debut in 1997.

7. Trillium Brewing Company

In many ways, Trillium shares a similar story as Tree House Brewing Company (we'll discuss Tree House shortly). It's another Massachusetts-based brewing company that opened in 2013 that has maintained a unique mystique about itself in that it doesn't distribute its very popular beer, nor does it partake in beer festivals or events. However, the brewery has satellite locations in Connecticut as well as Massachusetts.

Trillium Brewing Company doesn't only focus on beer, though. The company does produce a number of seltzers and wines. Thankfully, for anyone who wants to sample these beverages, it is a bit easier, in that there are local retail centers, including several in the Fenway neighborhood. Perfect for anyone planning a trip to catch a Red Sox game. Not planning a trip? The brewery does offer some limited beer shipping to Massachusetts, Kentucky, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Washington, D.C., and Nebraska.

6. Cigar City Brewing Company

Cigar City popped up in Tampa Bay in 2007 (although the first commercial beer was not ready until 2009), and it instantly started turning heads. Sure, it's now owned by the same company that owns Monster (yeah, the energy drink), but Cigar City has one of the most well-rounded offerings of beer, and with its excellent distribution, it has risen to one of the best breweries in the country.

Beer drinkers are probably most familiar with the company's popular Jai Alai IPA, which is named for a Spanish sport played in the region prior to the formation of the United States. In the nearly 20 years since its inception, Cigar City Brewing has gone on to win numerous awards, including several from the Great American Beer Festival. Interested in sampling some of the brewery's more exclusive brews? You can join the limited El Catador Club.

5. Allagash Brewing Company

Allagash has been producing Belgian-themed beer since 1995 in Portland, Maine. The Allagash White is still one of the best Belgian white beers made in the United States (makes Blue Moon look like swill). Wheat beer was a popular beer trend prior to the IPA explosion, including fruit-infused wheat beer. While many other craft breweries abandoned the Belgian white, Allagash continues to produce it. The majority of the beers produced by Allagash still are done so to replicate and enhance classic Belgian brews and flavors, although you will now find the occasional IPA from the brewery (at least if you're in the brewery's distribution footprint).

In case its heritage in the world of beer isn't enough, its founder won a James Beard Award in 2019 for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional. Not many breweries out there can boast a James Beard award.

4. Tree House Brewing Company

Few brewing companies have exploded onto the scene to dominate the beer world like Tree House. While the brewery's mystique likely has overvalued some of its beers (it doesn't participate in beer contests, doesn't distribute, and the only way you can get the beer is one of its breweries or satellite locations), there's no denying how much the brewery has dominated the IPA world in recent years.

The brewery first took shape in Brimfield, Massachusets back in 2011, before moving to Charlton, a city roughly smack dab in the middle of the state (and, frankly, in the middle of nowhere). Thankfully, the state is not large, and if you're ever visiting Boston, you can drive roughly 60 miles west for a beer-drinking visit.

We have one issue with Tree House, as well as Hill Farmstead and Trillium. These breweries do not partake in beer competitions (such as the Great American Beer Festival), so they never pit their beers against other brewers. And, the only way you can actually drink the beers is if you visit the physical locations. This makes it extremely difficult to compare these beers with others. The beers we've had from the breweries are fantastic. However, until they decide to partake in direct competitions, we believe it's better to reward some of the other award-winning breweries ahead of them (though we do love those breweries).

3. Russian River Brewing Company

If you were to map out the expansion of craft breweries in the United States, you might have three major waves. The first would be shortly after the approval of home brewing, stretching to the early 1980s and spanning through the early 1990s. The second age would be the late 1990s and into the early 2000s as brewing started to pick up popularity in pockets around the U.S. The third would be in the late 2000s and into the 2010s when the craft beer explosion hit.

Russian River ushered in the second wave, as it opened in 1997 in California. The original owner of the brewery eventually went to sell it off to the head brewer in 2003. A year later, the very first brewpub was opened in San Rosa. Now, the brewery produces several highly desirable beers, including Pliny the Younger and Pliny the Elder.

2. 3 Floyds Brewing Company

Located in Munster, Indiana, 3 Floyds is a brewery that popped up right at the beginning of that second wave of craft beers as it opened in 1996, although at the time it worked off of what is glamorously known as a "Frankenstein" setup, in which random brew kettles and repurposed fermenters were used (3 Floyds was actually using a cheese fermentor at the time).

For a time, it dominated the top of the Beer Advocate's top beer ratings, thanks to its Dark Lord beer, which is made with Mexican vanilla, coffee, and sugar. The Mexican vanilla ingredient is a prime example of how the brewery strives to use ingredients from around the world to craft unique and different beers, all with a focus on technical brewing. This is an amazing brewery, but one beat it in taking the top spot in our ranking.

1. AleSmith Brewing Company

There are a handful of cities in the United States that can claim themselves as the top craft beer destinations in the United States. San Diego is absolutely one of those cities, with AleSmith being one of them (Southern California in general is one of the best regions in the country for beer lovers). The brewery opened in 1995, and what is fantastic about this brewery is it didn't jump head first into any particular beer trend.

It continues to produce its American pale ale, nut brown ale, scotch ale, and others, without abandoning what made it such a staple in the California beer scene. It is also one of the most decorated breweries out there, as it has won 17 (as of 2023) medals from the Great American Beef Festival. All of those elements combined make this one our favorite brewery in the U.S.