5 Craft Breweries Adding Flavor To The American Beer Scene
In the era of craft beer, there's no reason anyone should have to drink the same old watered-down adjunct lagers. Today, brewers are constantly experimenting with styles, flavors, ingredients, and fermenting methods, resulting in a seemingly never-ending diversity of unique, flavorful beers. Producing everything from lip-smacking sour ales to hop-heavy IPAs and barrel-aged stouts, here, in no particular order, are some noteworthy companies making a splash on the American microbrew scene.
For #1 we find Moody Tongue. This Chicago-based establishment is co-led by Brewmaster Jared Rouben, who aims to create thoughtful, exciting beers that blend familiar flavors with quality ingredients. Moody Tongue features a bar where patrons can taste a la carte menu items by Executive Chef Jared Wentworth, as well as a collection of perennial beers and limited release offerings. There's also a fine dining room, where Wentworth's signature seasonal dishes are paired with Rouben's brews.
Moody Tongue produces an eclectic assortment of culinary beers, from its Shaved Black Truffle Pilsner to tropical IPAs and a toasted rice lager. Other offerings include a Baltic porter with flavors of Mexican cinnamon and chocolate, and a saison with a strong lemon profile. The brewer also has a whiskey barrel-aging program, which has yielded barleywines, Scotch ales, and an imperial stout designed to evoke the flavors and aromas of Moody Tongue's own 12 Layer German Chocolate Cake.
Arriving at #2 is Fonta Flora Brewery, which strives to integrate sustainable agriculture with the artisanship of zymurgy. With an emphasis on seasonal flora, it brings English tradition and Belgian inspiration to the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. The company maintains a tasting room near its brewhouse in Downtown Morganton, in addition to a taproom in Charlotte's Optimist Hall. Elsewhere, in Nebo, it has a farmhouse brewery that sits on nine acres of pastureland surrounded by Lake James State Park.
At Fonta Flora's tasting room, customers can choose from over 14 draught beer lines, including two nitro offerings, plus house-made kombucha, draught wine, an extensive bottle menu, and a select offering of local snacks. Among the sundry beers made by the company are innovative goses, IPAs, wild ales, stouts, and a variety of lagers including pilsners and marzens. Using items such as dandelion flowers and blueberries, Fonta Flora makes it a point to source its ingredients from local farms.
For #3 we come to Rhinegeist, located in the historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio. Founded by Bob Bonder and Bryant Goulding, the company boasts a 25,000-square-foot, active brewing facility that's housed in the former bottling plant of Christian Moerlein Brewing Co., a pre-Prohibition beermaker. In the taproom, guests can order beer and food, while a spacious rooftop is stocked with a selection of wine and cocktails.
Among Rhinegeist's year-round suds are an imperial IPA called Knowledge, and a witbier named Whiffle. Seasonal offerings encompass various fruited ales and IPAs, while the Outer Reaches series features Belgian-style sour ales. There are also barrel-aged beers and ciders. Those wanting a look behind the scenes can choose from a number of tours, including ones that focus on specialty tastings, and another that explores the Linck lager tunnels hidden beneath Cincinnati.
Showing up at #4 is New Realm Brewing Company. With locations in both Atlanta and Virginia Beach, this company emphasizes constant testing and innovation, experimenting with hopping techniques and discovering beer styles new and old. It has restaurants and taprooms at both of its breweries, where the executive chefs draw inspiration from Brewmaster Mitch Steele's craft beers, as well as the communities' diverse food scenes and local farms.
New Realm's core brands include its Euphonia Pilsner, United Craft Lager, and the Hoplandia, Hoptropolis, and Hazy Like a Fox IPAs. A sour series, meanwhile, comprises goses and Berliner Weisses, among other offerings. For hop heads, Jacked 'Squatch is a West Coast DIPA, while the New England-style Hazy Like an Ox features an aromatic blend of orange, lemon, and pineapple notes. Tours of the brewery grounds allow guests to taste draft offerings and hear what’s on-deck in the cellar.
Finally, for #5 we have MobCraft. Founded in 2011, it's a crowdsourced brewery where the people decide what gets to be brewed. Every month it leverages the power of the crowd to generate ideas for unique craft beers, with fans across the US submitting flavor and recipe suggestions. Customers cast their votes by placing a pre-order for the beer they would like; the submission with the most pre-orders is then packaged and made available for pickup at MobCraft's Milwaukee location.
Past winners have included One Love Bundt Cake, a rum barrel-aged Belgian-style quad with raisins, cherry, and honey, and Frooty Hopplez, a milkshake IPA inspired by Fruity Pebbles cereal. Meanwhile, the brewer's flagship beers include such seasonal offerings as Vanilla Wafer Porter, Rabbit's Bounty Carrot Cake Ale, and Grasshopper Milk Stout. Guests can stop by MobCraft's taproom for a full variety of suds, as well as foosball, ping pong, music, and more.