The Midwest has hundreds of breweries, taprooms, gastropubs and other businesses pumping out beer on a daily basis. Let’s take a look at the best beer in the Midwest.
Seeing as the Midwest known for amber waves of grain, it makes sense it would also gain a reputation for producing some of the country’s heartiest beers. Milwaukee and St. Louis have been brewing hubs for decades. The craft beer explosion has also roped in brewers from small towns featuring big tastes. If you’re looking for a new brew to sell in your restaurant or something to inspire your brewmaster, check out the beers we’ve selected here as the best beer in the Midwest.
Beer Brewed Pale and Strong
A quick glance at Beer Advocate’s best rated beers in the Midwest will show you a list split between two types of beer. Pale ales are at the heart of the modern craft beer movement, so their place on the list makes perfect sense. These beers get their name from the pale malt that gives them their light color and bitter taste. Aromatic and light, a pale ale is perfect for drinking in a social setting or pairing with nearly any kind of food. The American style of pale ale tends to be a bit stronger, while the English style (which some American breweries do create) goes for flavor over alcohol by volume.
Imperial stouts cover the other half of the best beer in the Midwest list. These high gravity beers get their name from their original purpose: to serve the Imperial Court with a stout brew that wouldn’t lose potency over a long trip across the European continent. These heavier beers are perfect for cold, wintery nights that require a little bit of chemical warmth to see through to the next day. They also pair well with soups and chili to really ease some warmth back into your bones.
Lakefront Brewery’s India Pale Ale (IPA) helped bring the craft revolution into one of the most notorious beer havens in the country. Milwaukee has been home to some of the biggest domestic brewers in beer history, but this mix of citrus flavors and classic hops helped drinkers far and wide realize that the thing that made Milwaukee famous is still working its magic.
For many people, New Glarus Brewing was the gateway into a love of craft brewing products. Their Spotted Cow Ale is a key to that gate. Many travelers from Wisconsin take a few bottles to their destination just in case they need to spread a little cheer or have a friend who is already in the know. Some of these tales are taller than the others, but Spotted Cow is widely recognized as one of the beers that has turned craft brewing from a local hobby to a nationwide obsession.
Summit Brewing has been around for thirty years as one of the old guards of the craft breweries. Summit’s Extra Pale Ale is a beer that put craft brewing on the map. But don’t think this old dog doesn’t have plenty of new tricks. They have a strong bench of year-round, seasonal, and limited edition beers that appeal to a variety of tastes. They’ve even moved into the organic ale market to appeal to customers that treasure green products even when it’s not St. Patrick’s Day.
Oberon Ale, coming out of Michigan’s Bell’s Brewery has a reputation as an excellent summer beer that’s light, crispy, and just the thing to drink everywhere from a music festival to a birthday party in the park. Not only does their beer selection offer plenty of great flavors, they even offer recipes on their website full of suggestions for what to cook with their beer.
The brewery with the most entries on the Beer Advocate list comes out of the tiny town of Decora, Iowa. Toppling Goliath Brewery puts out some of the most impressive Imperial Stouts in the world. Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout has something of a reputation as a collector’s beer due to limited availability in bottles and on tap. This rare recipe is known around the world as one of the best beers available – experts suggest taking a swig, should the opportunity present itself. The chase is sometimes more delicious than the feast, but in this case, hunting down this stout is definitely worth it.
A list like this is almost always controversial. The Midwest has hundreds of breweries, taprooms, gastropubs and other businesses pumping out beer on a daily basis. Pale ales and Imperial stouts appeal to connoisseurs – but everyone has a favorite, and every state has a few breweries worthy of merit. The next time you step into a bar, bypass the brews you know and take a chance on one from America’s Heartland. You never know what hidden gem you might find.