in a 2014 interview: “Nearly 30 years ago I set out to make consistent, quality Englishstyle ales and in perfecting the pale ale, this mission has been accomplished.”
21. ANCHOR PORTER
25. ITHACA FLOWER POWER IPA
The modern American IPA evolved on the West Coast, where the vast majority of hops were grown and new varieties were being cultivated. East Coast IPAs rarely showed the same oomph as their West Coast brethren. But in 2004, Ithaca Beer Co.’s Jeff O’Neil changed that with Flower Power. “It was recognized as one of the first West Coast-style IPAs brewed here in the Northeast,” says Gregg Stacy, Ithaca’s director of marketing and sales. “Flower Power captured the true power of the hop flower (the origin of the name) with its clover honey hue, lush floral flavor and robust fruity aroma from numerous hop additions in the kettle, as well as dry-hopping.” After leaving Ithaca years later, O’Neil cemented his legendary status producing award-winning brews for another New York brewery, Peekskill Brewery.
24. VICTORY HOPDEVIL IPA
In the ‘90s, few East Coast cities embraced the growing modern beer movement like Philadelphia. And when Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet opened Victory Brewing Company in nearby Downingtown, the region got an explosively hoppy beer all its own: HopDevil IPA. “In ‘96 this beer essentially broke Philadelphia,” says Brendan Hartranft, co-owner of Philly bars Local 44, Strangelove’s and Clarkville. “Victory was the first East Coast brewer to open with a beer as bold as HopDevil as their flagship, and to come out of the gate with a beer that hoppy was incredibly brave.”
23. DOGFISH HEAD 90 MINUTE IPA
In 2001, Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery introduced a monster beer, the nine percent alcohol 90-IBU 90 Minute IPA. Dogfish Head had always prided itself on brewing “off-centered” beers by “adding all sorts of weird ingredients and getting kind of crazy,” as the brewery states on its website. With 90 Minute, Dogfish Head innovated not with ingredients but by introducing a new process. By adding hops continually while brewing instead of all at once (a technique the brewery dubbed “continuous hopping”), the Dogfish Head team created a beer with massive, evolving hop flavors cascading over a firm malt backbone. Dogfish Head has continued to introduce unique brews, but 90 Minute IPA may be its most iconic achievement.
22. GEARY’S PALE ALE
Being the East Coast’s first microbrewery must be worth something, and for Portland, Maine’s D.L. Geary Brewing Company, that distinction lands its first flagship brew a spot on our list. “Geary’s was an East Coast progenitor, founded in 1986 when there were fewer than 100 breweries in the U.S.,” explains Stephen Hale of St. Louis’s Schlafly Beer. Made with currentlyunfashionable ingredients like English malt and the European hop varieties Tettnang and Fuggle, Geary’s Pale Ale may not garner the same acclaim today as other beers on this list. Still, it’s a living piece of brewing history, and brewery founder D.L. Geary stood by his dedication to British-style beer
It’s hard to imagine a time when every notable brewery didn’t offer a dark, smooth, roasty and chocolaty porter. But when Anchor Brewing first introduced its porter in 1972, the style was all but dead. “Anchor Porter was the first postProhibition American porter in the U.S.,” explains current Anchor brew master Scott Ungermann. “It brought another style of beer to America.” Forty-five years later, beer-rating site Beer Advocate lists more than 5,500 American porters in its database. Perhaps more amazing is that decades later, many believe the San Francisco-based brewery’s version is still one of the best. “It’s still the gold standard of the style in my book,” says Michael Roper, owner of Chicago’s Hopleaf Bar.
20. BIN EIN BERLINER WEISSE
Don’t tell the brewers at Nodding Head Brewery about the hot new beer on the block, Berliner Weisse. Though this mildly sour German style has exploded in popularity over the last few years, the Philadelphia brewery first whipped up their Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse way back in 2000—ahead of its time, perhaps. “We had to spoon-feed it to people,” owner Curt Decker said in an interview with City Tap last year. “They didn’t get it. They didn’t unerstand it. You had to explain it to every person. People liked it. But sours weren’t big back then.” Still, people like Patrick Rue, founder of California brewery The Bruery, whose own Hottenroth Berliner Weisse has become one of the best known American takes on the style, see the importance of Nodding Head’s trailblazing. “The resurgence of historical styles is one of the most important aspects of modern craft beer,” Rue says. “To my knowledge, this was the first Berliner Weisse produced in the U.S. While never bottled, beer geeks flocked to the Philly brewpub to try the only American Berliner Weisse at the time.”
19. WIDMER HEFEWEIZEN
Though IPA has become craft brewing’s signature style, back in the ‘90s everyone seemed adamant about making hefeweizen. Because it was approachable in flavor and of German origin (as Americans felt beer should be), hefeweizen made a good gateway beer in a market dominated by macrobrewed lagers. The trend began in 1986, when Oregon’s Widmer Brothers Brewing started serving their weizenbier unfiltered and the “first American-style hefeweizen” was born, according to the brewery. Granted, some may say that Widmer’s take wasn’t a true expression of what the Germans intended, but calling it “American-style” is an important qualifier: Widmer’s Hefe could be seen as establishing the broader, now abundant style of American wheats.
18. PIZZA PORT/ LOST ABBEY CUVEE DE TOMME
The year is 1999. For two years, Tomme Arthur, the brew master at Pizza Port in Solana Beach, California, has been building a reputation for making amazing Belgian-style beers, but is apparently still searching for a brew worthy of stamping with his own name. Enter Cuvee de Tomme, a beer that defies convention even by modern standards: A huge, sour brown ale made with candi sugar, raisins and sour cherries that undergoes a secondary fermentation in bourbon barrels with wild Brettanomyces yeast. Cuvee de Tomme wasn’t the first American sour and the brewery didn’t invent bourbon barrel-aging, but Arthur’s groundbreaking accomplishment was daring to apply so many different techniques to one delicious, award-winning brew. When Arthur moved from Pizza Port to The Lost Abbey, he took his namesake beer with him.
17. ANCHOR CHRISTMAS ALE
Spoiler alert: With four beers on this list, San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing appears more than anyone else. Of course, as the oldest brewery listed—founded in 1896 before completely re-inventing itself in the 1960s and 1970s—Anchor had a jump on the competition. Another reason for the brewery’s success has been its ability to innovate, as it did in 1975 when it introduced Christmas Ale. Anchor has since released the beer annually without once repeating the recipe (or label, for that matter), a serious risk in an industry that rewards consistency. “They made beer collectible,” says Gregory Hall, the former Goose Island brew master who created the lauded Bourbon County Brand Stout. “I probably had 18 years’ worth in my basement when I moved.” For the past 42 years, Anchor Christmas Ale has been an annual present to its dedicated followers.