Like any good man, Mike Sills has a good woman alongside him.
But when it came to bringing him into the fold of craft beer, Mike’s wife, Jenna, led the way.
“Give Mike a glass of whiskey – almost any whiskey,” Jenna recalled, “and he was a happy man.”
Jenna and Mike Sills, enjoying more than beer.
But that was before the couple made a brief weekend getaway from Boston to travel to Vermont. It was before Jenna suggested they stop at Waterbury’s The Alchemist during their trip, after a serendipitous sample from a friend of the famed Heady Topper.
All that was before they walked into Blackback Pub one night, having left their car parallel parked in what felt like the middle of a snow-covered street.
When it comes to understanding craft beer, perhaps the only thing bigger than the idea of its “cultural movement” is ironically one, singular brew – the IPA.
The India pale ale has become synonymous with craft beer and stands tall as arguably the most popular style for Americans picking up bottles or downing pints of Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas, New Belgium or any local option down the street.
As the IPA has taken hold of our pints and wallets, it’s become the cornerstone style for breweries young and old. The IPA has shifted from a novel connection to the West Coast to a beer found everywhere across the country.
So if California, Oregon and Washington no longer reign over the IPA-loving masses like they used to, where exactly are today’s best IPAs coming from?
While limited-release imperial stouts will likely always end up high on beer rankings, that trend may be slowly changing. In the last couple years, other styles have been clawing their way toward top spots thanks to an increase of innovative breweries like Vermont’s Hill Farmstead and Florida’s Cigar City.
These tasty brews are important for changing the way we think about beer and what we like, but just as important is the geographical location. When we talk about global beer production – especially that of the top-ranked beers in the world – it’s increasingly becoming something of an “Old World” vs. “New World” situation. Continue reading →