Here are Ken & Brad’s ten favorite midwest craft breweries and the towns they are in.
1. Three Floyds – Munster, Indiana
Three Floyds is located just 30 minutes outside of Chicago in Muster, Indiana. These guys love the big beers. Three Floyds knows how to really bring the hops in their beers though they may be most famous for their Russian Imperial Stout, Dark Lord that tops many lists as one of the best beers in the world. Dark Lord bottles are sold only on ‘Dark Lord Day,’ the last Saturday in April where you are sure to find Brad and Ken and several thousand other fellow beer lovers in line and having a good time. Besides being an excellent brewery, they also have a brew pub that is cranking out some seriously tasty food. Don’t think you can come to Chicago and not make a trip out to see these guys
2. Bell’s – Kallamazoo, Michigan
Bell’s was the first Michigan brewery to serve beer by the glass to the public. With over 20 years of brewing, Larry Bell has built a nationwide reputation with Bell’s Brewery. They played and are still playing a significant role in changing the craft beer landscape of the nation. They continue to produce a large variety of excellent beer and that’s why they are one out our favorites.
3. Founders Brewery – Grand Rapids, Michigan
Founders Brewing is talked about constantly in the craft beer community for so many great beers and they just keep coming out with more. More flavor, bigger body, huge aromatics and increased complexity is the goal of Founders and they bring it to you. They continue to push the envelope and that’s what makes them great. Both Ken and Brad are excited to see what they have coming out in the years to come.
4. Boulevard Brewing – Kansas City, Missouri
Boulevard Brewing is one of the few breweries that Ken and Brad haven’t visited in the midwest. They are a fairly large brewery and also have a rather large distribution area but unfortunately you can’t find their beers in Chicago. Outside of the quality year-round brews they offer, its what they’ve been doing with their Smokestack Series releases that has really made us drink up and take notice.
5. New Glarus Brewing Company – New Glarus, Wisconsin
Just on the outskirts of the small “Swisstown” New Glarus, Wisconsin is where you will find the New Glarus Brewing Company. They are perhaps the biggest of the Wisconsin craft breweries and it’s hard to find a bar in Wisconsin that doesn’t have New Glarus beer on tap. They don’t distribute outside of Wisconsin so if you live outside of the state then a road trip is in order! Luckily Ken drives to Wisconsin often enough and brings back beers to share with fellow beer lovers in Chicagoland. As well as excellent year-round offerings, what these guys are doing with fruit is incredible! It will make the ladies and the gents in your life extra happy. Just.. wow!
Episode Featuring New Glarus Brewing Company – Episode 56
6. Jolly Pumpkin – Dexter, Michigan
Jolly Pumpkin has a little something different going on there and their beers are not for everyone. Focusing on traditional rustic country style beers they use open fermentation, oak barrel aging, and bottle conditioning. Many of you know that Brad isn’t a huge fan of the sour beers but Jolly Pumpkin is slowly helping him to learn to appreciate that style and the Hop Cast really respects the quality product that Jolly Pumpkin creates.
7. Surly Brewing – Brooklyn Center, Minnesota
If you’re visiting Minnesota and love beer it’s likely you have heard of what Surly Brewing is producing. You’ll find most of their beers in 16 oz cans at local liquor stores throughout the Twin Cities and beyond. If you are willing to brave the weather in Minnesota in October and stand in line early then you get a rare, magnificent taste of their much lauded once a year release, Russian Imperial Stout; they call Darkness.
8. Goose Island – Chicago, Illinois
Goose Island and Chicago sort of go hand and hand. They are widely distributed throughout the majority of states and many people know about their bottled beers including the much loved and praised, Bourbon County Stout. But a trip to Chicago wouldn’t be complete without seeing what else Goose Island has to offer. At the Goose Island Clybourn brewpub you’ll find about 10 beers that are not in bottles and exclusively only available there. They are constantly rotating in new offerings so make sure you stop on by and see what they have on tap.
9. Two Brothers – Warrenville, Illinois
Head directly west of Chicago to Warrenville and check out Two Brothers and their brew pub. Since Warrenville is Brad’s birthplace, Two Brothers holds a special spot in his heart. Two Brothers beers are solid and although with the exception of Hop Juice, many of their beers may not completely blow away the craft beer lover. They are go-to beers; the kind of beers that you can also give to your average beer friends (if you have any) and they are still going to enjoy them. When you need a good, solid beer that isn’t too experimental then a Two Brothers is a dependable choice.
Episode Featuring Two Brothers – Episode 11
10. Kuhnhenn – Warren, Michigan
Kuhnhenn Brewing Company is your typical hardware store turned microbrewery story… ok there’s nothing typical about Kuhnhenn. Run by brothers Bret and Eric Kuhnhenn in the small town of Warren, Michigan these brothers have the craft beer community talking. You can find their beers in 12 oz and 22 oz bottles. And if you see them, pick them up because they are pretty amazing. A couple favorites are the Simcoe Silly, Creme Brulee Java Stout & the Solar Eclipse.
With so many great top notch breweries in the midwest it was hard to just pick 10. There were a few that almost made the list and we just wanted to give them props for what they are doing.
Half Acre – Chicago, IL
Metropolitan Brewing – Chicago, IL
Dark Horse Brewing – Marshall, Michigan
Futhermoore Beer – Spring Green, Wisconsin