The time was that the world of Craft beers was owned by several amazing companies; Dogfish Head, Stone, Victory, Three Floyds, Lagaunitus, Goose Island, Two Brothers, and of course, Sam Adams. They were kings of the world. Over the next ten years, many, in this bloggers opinion, lost their way. And yet, others came on to take their place.
I feel that 3Fs remains the greatest brewery in the world, even if their brewpub is often pretentious and haughty. I was pleasantly surprised, by having one the Victory standards, Hop Devil, and being reminded how very good it is. My experience at their brewpub is first rate and almost everything thing they serve is outstanding, if a bit unadventurous.
Two Brothers has played Icarus and fallen from the pantheon. Not only have they sold out by turning much of their production toward turning out insipid offerings, while taking their best beer, Cane and Abel and shoving it to the back of the shelf and making it a seasonal. They have sold out, much as Goose Island has, without having the excuse that they were bought out by INBEV.
Stone found their métier years ago and stick to it. They consistently turn out great IPAs and do what they do best. They are not avant guard and they know it.
Dogfish is perhaps the saddest story of all. They were the cutting edge for years, throwing “Hail Mary’s” and often missing. Oh, but when they hit! For ten or so years now, there has been nothing out of them that warrants a road trip. So disappointing for one of the giants.
Lagaunitus has opened a second brewery in Chicago, and while that venue is a bit too, too hip, it does do what they do best. Turn out solid, first tier beers. They may not be cutting edge any more, but they still keep their nose to the grindstone and keep their quality up, while many in their class have slipped.
Finally, you have Sam Adams. Many of you may know the story of how they saved the craft brew industry some years ago, very unselfishly. For this reason, no one in the industry will ever bad-mouth them. Like Stone, they know what they do and keep it between the lines. They will never be the beer de jour, but if you want to introduce your nephew to craft beers, you could do far worse that giving him a Sam Adams. They will never be mistaken for the latest “thing’, but they made this whole thing possible, and for that I will be forever grateful.