There was a misconception being passed around the Internet a couple of years back that there were no "real" American beer companies left to speak of after Budweiser was sold to a group of Belgian investors. The truth is, though the beer world is still a real boys' club, American craft brewing is experiencing a renaissance, with women at the helm. From Brooklyn's Sixpoint Brewery to Golden Road and Three Weavers in Southern California, women are making a big impact on the future of American beer.
And women aren't just doing the brewing, we're also doing a whole lot of the drinking. According to the New York Daily News, women made up 37 percent of all craft beer drinkers in 2013. I'm not exactly sure what women have to do to prove that we aren't only into Chardonnay and Appletinis. I mean, women are even writing books about the craft beer industry.
This Independence Day, treat yourself to a cold brew (or maybe try all 10), brewed right here in the USA and available in your city. I've got you covered from light to dark, bitter and hoppy to sweet and fruity, and no, this insult to beer drinkers everywhere did not make the list.
10. Sierra Nevada Kellerweis Bavarian-Style Wheat Beer
This is the top-rated American Hefeweizen that enjoys national distribution, according to Beer Advocate. Sierra Nevada is brewed in Chico, California, in the Sierra Nevada mountains. All of its beers are solid options, especially considering the volume of beer it produces annually — nothing too fancy, and all dependably delicious. Sierra Nevada is what the big beer companies wish they were. You can pretty much find bottles of this at any grocery store.
9. Rogue Mocha Porter
The silver medal winner at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival, this porter-style beer is less of a drinking commitment than a lot of other dark beers. Its alcohol content is 5.3 percent ABV, so it's suitable for a lunch or a tailgate. Like Sierra Nevada, the Rogue brewery offers a dependable selection across its entire repertoire. Rogue Brewing is based in Oregon, but operates up and down the west coast.
8. Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager
This beer, which has ripe Louisiana strawberry juice added at peak sweetness, is a whimsical choice, I'll admit, but how much fun is this beer? It flirts with the line of permissible sweetness, and tastes like a beer that was brewed in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, in a very good way. I have a soft-spot for fruit-flavored beers as my first favorite in college was a blueberry wheat brew. Abita is brewed in charming Abita Springs, Louisiana, a town with a population under 2,500 people.
7. Oberon American Pale Wheat Ale
I was just introduced to Oberon by a friend last weekend, and its Midwestern charm has already made it a favorite. As you can tell by the title, the beer is a pale, golden color that drinks like a juice or an iced tea. It's a sunny flavor — not very yeasty or overly spicy. Bell's Brewery is in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and is constantly growing its distribution.
6. Victory At Sea Vanilla Coffee Porter
This is an awesome dark beer by the awesome beer nerds at San Diego's Ballast Point. Like a band that only writes #1 hits, this brewery has been rolling out small-batch winners for the past 10 years, and has increased production and distribution tremendously since 2013. Now everyone can have a sip. Victory At Sea keeps it super local by featuring the flavor of local San Diego coffee beans from Caffe Calabria.
5. Allagash White
Allagash White is one of my favorite lunchtime beers. Weighing in at just 5 percent ABV, Allagash won't lay you out after just one. It has a citrusy and bright flavor, which is lightly spiced with coriander. It's something you'd want to drink sitting on a big southern front porch in the summertime, which makes it sort of surprising that the Allagash Brewing Company is in Portland, Maine.
4. AleSmith Horny Devil
AleSmith's IPA is pretty ubiquitous, but this super-strong Belgian-style golden, which is a little bit harder to find, is worth the extra effort. It's a doozy at 10 percent ABV, and its fruity and spicy flavor combination make it difficult to drink just one. AleSmith Brewing Company is in San Diego as well.
3. Racer 5 India Pale Ale
This Bear Republic year-round is a fundamentally sound IPA. It's not too bitter, it's not too strong (7.5 percent ABV), and it smells great in a glass. It's perfect to eat with spicy, flavorful foods that can compete flavor-wise. Frankly, Bear Republic knows how to brew a great IPA — its seasonal brews like Apex and Cafe Racer are both very tasty as well, if you ever stumble upon them.
2. Le Freak Belgian IPA
Share a tallboy of Le Freak with a friend. This ironically pink-labeled Belgian IPA is a heavy hitter at 9.2 percent ABV, so the 22 oz. bottles are a bit much for just one person to polish off while it's still cold. Everything about this beer is in your face: the smell, the flavor, and the buzz it will give you after a few sips.
1. Sculpin India Pale Ale (Grapefruit)
Sculpin is the second Ballast Point (of San Diego) beer to land itself on my top 10 list. The original Sculpin brew is a winner of an IPA, and its grapefruit sibling is no slouch. Grapefruit Sculpin is bright and summery. It's my current favorite beer to impulsively purchase whenever I see it at the store, as it used to be near-impossible to find but becomes more and more available with each week. Both varieties are delicious, and both would be a great choice for a poolside beverage this Independence Day. Sculpin and Grapefruit Sculpin both contain 7 percent ABV.