Although many seminal craft breweries took flight in the 1990s, the 2000s gave birth to some of America’s most highly regarded breweries.  Below are Beer Nation’s Top Five New Breweries of the 2000s:

5.  The Bruery (Placentia, California 2008)

brueryThe story behind The Bruery’s founding is as audacious as it is inspiring.  Rather than practicing law, Patrick Rue decided after law school that he wanted to brew Belgian-style beers in Orange County, California (which, compared to San Diego and Northern California, is a dry zone for craft brewing).  Less than a year after opening, The Bruery was already distributing its tasty beers across the U.S. and receiving rave reviews from drinkers around the world.  Who knows what the future holds for this newborn brewery.

4.  Southern Tier Brewing Company (Lakewood, New York 2004)

souther_tier_unearthly_IPAAfter only being open for three years, Beer Advocate named Southern Tier as one of the 50 best breweries in the world in 2007.  And for good reason:  Southern Tier was pumping out some beautifully complex beers.  Exhibit A, as Patrick Rue would have called it had he pursued a career in law, is Southern Tier’s wonderfully dynamic Imperial IPA, Unearthly.   Be warned, however:  the people behind Southern Tier are clearly flavor freaks.  In other words, when you buy the Creme Brulee Imperial Milk Stout, expect more than mere hints of the rich dessert.

3.  The Lost Abbey (San Marcos, California 2006)

lost-abbey-jpg-smallerWhile managing Pizza Port— a San Diego craft beer mecca — the founders of Lost Abby developed a serious liking for Belgium’s Abby-style beers and dreamed of introducing them to the San Diego area.  One thing was missing however:  an appropriate facility.  As fate would have it, by 2005 Stone Brewing had grown too large for its facility in San Marcos, California and was moving down the road to Escondido.  Out of Stone’s old location, Lost Abby has been brewing epic renditions of Belgian classics over the last four years.  In fact, more than two thirds of Lost Abbey’s beers have achieved at least an A-minus rating on Beer Advocate, including its Belgian Strong Ale — Ten Commandments — which is highly regarded by craft beer aficionados across the country.

2.  Captain Lawrence Brewing Company (Pleasantville, New York 2006)

captain-lawrenceIf you haven’t heard about Captain Lawrence yet, you will soon.  That’s because the brewery only recently began bottling its Captain’s Reserve — a Double/Imperial IPA we estimate is the best version of its style since Russian River’s Pliny the Elder.  In case you’re wondering, Captain Lawrence’s rise is no matter of luck.  Its founder, Scott Vaccaro, has incredible craft brewing pedigree.  After earning a degree in fermentology from the University of California – Davis, Vaccaro went on to work as a brewer at Sierra Nevada.  Only after mastering his skills out West did Vacarro come back home to Westchester, New York to begin brewing his shockingly balanced line up of beers.  Aside from concocting the tantalizing Captain’s Reserve, Vaccaro also ages beer in wine and whiskey barrels resulting in his award winning series of Smoke From The Oak beers.  You have all been warned.

1.  Surly Brewing Company (Brooklyn Center, Minnesota 2006)

surlySurly Brewing is named after a descriptive term for someone of poor temperament or bad mood.  Maybe the name has something to do with Minnesota winters.  But, like Prince, The Replacements, and Husker Du before it, Surly Brewing has used its art as a vessel to emerge from the frozen tundra of the Twin Cities.  One taste of Surley’s IPA — Furious — and you’ll catch my drift.  Furious’s balance of bitter hopiness and sweet maltiness is Rembrandt-esque.  And, the earthy smoothness of Surly’s brown ale — Bender — tastes like a Mozart sonata sounds.  The world has been patiently awaiting a brewery like this.

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