With few apologies to the macro breweries we all know, craft breweries are the present and the future of the industry. While beer may be good business for the big boys, it is a passion for the brewers that craft the beers below.
Although some of these nano and micro breweries specialize in beers that are best out of the bottle, a large number of them make truly remarkable beers on draft. If you stumble upon the following gems on your next night out, get out of your comfort zone and enjoy a world beyond Bud Light.
Behold the Elite 8 of Draft Beer
#8 – ScareCity 2: Rye Cocoa Porter – Lagunitas Brewing Company (Imperial Porter 10.19%)
This beer is scary good on draft.. do you see what we did there? Like most of Lagunitas beers, ScareCity 2 is incredibly delicious and easy to drink. Just be careful, at over 10% alcohol, this chocolaty roasted coffee porter packs a helluva punch for how sweet it goes down.
#7 – Swamp Ape DIPA – Florida Beer Company (Double IPA 10%)
Florida is not known for its brew scene yet but recently a couple of good ones have appeared and look strong out of the gate. Swamp Ape loses a lot of its luster in the bottle, but on draft it has a hoppy flavor that can compete with some of the better DIPAs available.
#6 – Summer Shandy – Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company (Radler/Shandy 4.2%)
Ok…so Leinenkugel is a pretty large brewery, and some beer drinkers don’t consider a low-alcohol shandy a true beer. With that said, during the warm months, it’s hard to beat a Summer Shandy. While it’s solid in the can, grabbing a pitcher or three of this lemonade-tasting brew for the table will make you a hit when trying to beat the heat.
#5 – Master Splinter (Black Tie Series) – Monday Night Brewery (Imperial Red Ale 9%)
The newest addition to the Black Tie Series is worthy of its place among the family. You don’t see many Imperial Reds, but this smooth red has a hoppy kick that it’s namesake would appreciate while training his ninja turtle sons.
#4 – Ladder Dive Rye IPA – 3 Guys and Beer’d Brewing Co. (Rye IPA 7%)
Tucked away in the Poconos, these guys have made a name with Ladder Dive Rye. It has an earthy citrus orange hue that tastes both sweet and bitter in the same pour.
#3 – Black Chocolate Stout – Brooklyn Brewery (American Imperial/Double Stout 10%)
Not to be confused with Brooklyn’s Black Ops, which is best aged in the bottle, Black Chocolate Stout is fantastic on tap. It’s the perfect brew if you’re looking for that sweet aroma without an overly sweet taste. At 10% it can sneak up on you, so enjoy in moderation despite how good it tastes.
#2 – Interlude – Allagash Brewing Co. (American Wild Ale/Sour 9.5%)
Allagash doesn’t brew many beers that don’t belong on a top “X” list. The Portland, ME brewery is one of the best in the country. A lot of their selection tastes great bottled, but this wild ale is amazing on draft. It’s not-too-sour taste delivers superb drinkability whether you’re a fan of sours or not.
#1 – Big Shanty Graham Cracker Stout – Burnt Hickory Brewery (Oatmeal Stout 9%)
If you can get your hands on Big Shanty regardless of how it’s served, you owe it to yourself to order it. This once nano, now microbrewery produces some of the best and most eclectic beers you can find, and does so with passion and charm. This particular beer tastes like a s’mores snack cooked up by campfire. A couple sips and you’ll be glad you strayed from your usual beer selections.
As someone who has visited several breweries and taken many tasting tours, I can say it’s always a treat to enjoy one of your favorite bottled or canned beers straight from the source. It’s even better when those same beers venture outside the breweries and end up on draft in your favorite bar or gastropub like Avenue GastroBar in Orlando.