We're celebrating the origins of craft beer with a (brief) look into the history of some of the best and long standing US breweries

Rogue Ales

FOUNDED: 1988 BY JACK JOYCE, ROB STRASSER AND BOB WOODELL “We try to do four things,” The late Rogue Ales co-founder Jack Joyce told author and Brooklyn Beer co-founder Steve Hindy for his book The Craft Beer Revolution. “Keep making great product, keep trying to make our packaging great, keep trying to integrate ourselves in our communities – and keep creating thunder.” And thunder is exactly what they create. Since swaggering onto the scene with an Oregon brewpub in 1988, Rogue Ales have continuously challenged the status quo: Rogue turn out some big, no-nonsense beers. As they point out in their mission statement “Most important, cut out all the B.S.”. It works: they are one of the highest rated breweries on RateBeer. They also run a distillery. TRY: BRUTAL IPA / 6.5% Rogue’s best beer? All you want from an IPA. TRY: SHAKESPEARE OATMEAL STOUT / 6.1% A dark black with a malt and hop balance.

Sierra Nevada

FOUNDED: 1979 BY KEN GROSSSMAN AND PAUL CAMUSI Sierra Nevada is another one of the early craft beer pioneers, founded in Chico back in 1979. Their Pale Ale is a classic of the style and still their best-selling beer. Today’s hopheads may wonder why it’s so highly praised, but those Cascade hops that we see in every hoppy beer? It was Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale that led the way. Arguments reign today over whether the 7th largest brewery in the US is craft, but the product is still the vision of one man and beautifully made. There’s a reason Sierra Nevada are so big – the beer is amazing. TRY: PALE ALE / 5.6% The benchmark of the American pale ale style. TRY: TORPEDO / 7.2% A huge hoppy aroma; lush citrus and pine resin.

Anchor Brewing Co.

FOUNDED: 1896, SAN FRANCISCO Anchor Brewing are truly among the craft beer pioneers. In fact their heritage can be traced back to 1849, and the time of the Californian gold rush. The name itself dates back to 1896, after which the brewery amazingly survived a tumultuous time – earthquakes, prohibition – before nearly closing its doors in 1965. Stanford graduate Fritz Maytag then bought a majority stake in the business and in 1971, a time when many of today’s craft brewers weren’t even born, he produced Steam Lager, still Anchor’s flagship beer. ‘Steam’ was a West Coast nickname for beer produced without ice (probably fermented on San Francisco rooftops). And the Steam Beer? Wow – it’s still great. TRY: ANCHOR STEAM BEER / 4.8% A classic of American brewing. TRY: SAISON SPRING ALE 2016 / 7.2% A Belgian-style saison with a San Fran twist.

Firestone Walker

FOUNDED: 1996 BY ADAM FIRESTONE AND DAVID WALKER What do Firestone Walker do so right? How are their beers so drinkable? Perhaps it’s the British heritage of one of the founders that informs the brewing process, making their beers so appealing to British taste buds. Or perhaps it’s just that little bit of magic that sees it winning endless awards. A case in point is the Union Jack IPA that, while very hoppy, has a strong malty presence and an earthiness reminiscent of a British IPA. They’ve also started a wild fermenting barrel-ageing programme called Barrelworks, to push those boundaries even further. TRY: EASY JACK IPA / 4.5% Packing a load of flavour into 4.5% ABV. TRY: DOUBLE BARREL ALE / 5% A tribute to the English cask ale. 

Stone Brewing

FOUNDED: 1996 BY GREG KOCH AND STEVE WAGNER Since starting in 1996 in Escondido, California, Stone have gone full-throttle into everything they do. Today, their brewery is big, their growth is big and, most of all, their beers are big. The Arrogant Bastard Ale was first brewed at home by co-founder Steve Wagner... to the wrong proportions. Once they fermented it, however, it became one of Stone’s flagship beers. On the back of the first bottle it said: “This is an aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it.” Well, people did. TRY: RUINATION / 8.5% A golden beer with citrusy, piney hop flavours. TRY: CALI BELGIQUE IP / 6.9% A hop-forward transatlantic hybrid.

Oskar Blues

FOUNDED: 1997 BY DALE KATECHIS. BREWS ALSO IN NORTH CAROLINA Big, brassy and bold, Oskar Blues may as well come accompanied by a wailing blues soundtrack. These are goodtime beers from the moment you snap open one of their cans. Steve Hindy, Brooklyn Brewery co-founder and author of The Craft Beer Revolution, describes them as one of the great success stories of craft beer. In fact, back in 2002 they did what no other craft brewery had ever done before: put all their beers in cans. This was astonishing at the time (it was a hand-canning machine). Many people still prefer their beer in a bottle, but with the natural enemies of beer being light and oxygen, their cans beat both of those. They also get cold more quickly. TRY: DALE’S PALE ALE / 6.5% This beer is a refrigerator must-have. TRY: IPA / 6.43% Showcasing some of Australia’s most interesting hops.