Best Midwest Craft Brewery ?

Map of the MidwestCast your vote for the Best Midwest Craft Brewery. Represent your favorite local beer by not only casting your vote, but leaving feedback using the comment feature. There are 30 breweries to choose from, but sure enough, somebody will comment on the fact that a great local craft brewery is missing. If there is a large number of write ins, we will tally them up.

Learning from previous polls, we have added more breweries than any other poll we have run. Voting ends April 28, 2009 3PM PDT.

Please note that this is done in the spirit of loving beer and having pride in your local craft brewery. The comment section is underneath all 30 of the nominated breweries.

Best Midwest Craft Brewery?

  • Schlafly Brewery (25%, 2,052 Votes)
  • Great Lakes Brewing (24%, 1,892 Votes)
  • New Glarus (11%, 855 Votes)
  • Lakefront Brewery (7%, 525 Votes)
  • August Schell (6%, 496 Votes)
  • Hoppin' Frog (5%, 411 Votes)
  • Bell's Brewing (5%, 369 Votes)
  • Surly Brewing (3%, 259 Votes)
  • Three Floyds (2%, 196 Votes)
  • Boulevard Brewing (2%, 191 Votes)
  • Founders Brewing (2%, 147 Votes)
  • Summit Brewing (2%, 144 Votes)
  • Goose Island (1%, 118 Votes)
  • Free State Brewing (1%, 65 Votes)
  • Columbus Brewing (1%, 45 Votes)
  • Captial Brewing (1%, 43 Votes)
  • Jolly Pumpkin (1%, 42 Votes)
  • Shorts Brewing (0%, 37 Votes)
  • Tyranena Brewing (0%, 36 Votes)
  • Two Brothers Brewing (0%, 29 Votes)
  • New Holland Brewing (0%, 27 Votes)
  • Dark Horse Brewing (0%, 18 Votes)
  • Arcadia Ales (0%, 15 Votes)
  • New Albanian Brewing (0%, 12 Votes)
  • The Livery (0%, 5 Votes)
  • Flying Monkey Brewing (0%, 5 Votes)
  • Waterstreet Brewery (0%, 5 Votes)
  • Oaken Barrel (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Firehouse Brewing (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Backroad Brewing (0%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 8,048

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  1. Tim Teders says

    Keweenaw Brewery’s “Lift-bridge Brown Ale” is the best beer I’ve ever had in a can!

  2. jon eckerle says

    My vote is for Great Lakes…. I just love to find it on tap.. the food is always secondary to the beer. “I don’t care where we go honey… do they have Great Lakes.” A secondary benifit is the Conway’s dedication to the triple bottom line philosophy and their support of the sustainability movement. They are talking the talk and walking the walk of sustainability. They have integrated into their business model long term planning for green sustainable business practices. Every time I finish off a Burning River Ale, I feel the earth thank me.

  3. R J Mayer says

    I have tried most of the beers listed here, and I always go back to Summit. They brew a Extra Pale ale that sets the standard! They also just introduced a Red ale that is GREAT, lots of hops dancing on a wonderful malt finish! If you are ever in St Paul Mn they offer tours that are fun,and free! Cheers all!

  4. KG in WI says

    My vote goes to Central Waters Brewery in Amherst, WI.
    The MudPuppy Porter is so will make you happy!

  5. A J Hookster says

    Great Lakes makes some of the best beers I’ve tasted, especially their Elliot Ness and Burning River. 23 MVP!!!

  6. BRIAN says

    I have toured and eaten at Great Lakes Brewing Company and couldn’t be more thrilled with their beer quality.

    I now live in Los Angeles and miss Great Lakes beer deeply ;-(

    Please let me become a distributor out here in Los Angeles!

    Edmund Fitzgerald Porter is the best!

  7. Tonethetiger says

    Schlafly’s Dry Hopped IPA is a hophead’s dream.

    And when you visit their restaurants their food is supplemented by local farmers and growers.

    And they have festivals year round to support the arts, film, charities and sporting events, where they open their doors to the community with live music and great hospitality.

    Anybody that visits St. Louis needs to stop by the Tap Room and have their beer cheese soup. It’s the best!

    And still the beer is amazing.

  8. Kelan Craig says

    Big fan of Great Lakes Brewing Company. I’ve been brewing my own beer and getting good advice via their quarterly “Advanced Beer School” sessions. Burning River Pale, Commodore Perry IPA & Grassroots Ale are good ones to try!

  9. admin says

    Wow, you guys are hardcore about your beer. After reading this entire thread, I feel like I have quite a list of beers to track down and try.

    – Dan

  10. says

    No Furthermore? No Minneapolis Town Hall? That’s 2 of the best brewers in the country and you can’t even get them on your midwest list?

  11. says

    As mentioned above this is not a very complete list of Brewers in the Midwest. It would have been nice if users could have requested ADDS to this list, as a Midwestern brewer, its not easy to get your name out there! Maybe next time.

  12. says

    Wish it would have been possible to vote for the Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant in Topeka. They have great beer. Ten awards from GABF and World Beer Cup in the last 8 years. Usually at least 12 beers on tap. Wonder why they were left off the list?

  13. Karin says

    Have been going to Schlafly Taproom since it opened and these people are the best. And the make hard cider, too. Cask-conditioned, organic and serious bitter varieties above and beyond anything I’ve seen elsewhere!

  14. jennifer smith says

    Great Lakes has my vote. I hope this is how to vote. I didn’t find another place to click my vote. Maybe I need a beer!

  15. Rose Wells says

    I went to a wine verses beer dinner put on by Schalafy and a wine distributor for the Leukemia Foundation. Schlafly’s beers were great with the meal….better than the wine with some of the courses. My vote is for Schlafly Brewery.

  16. says

    Great Lakes brewery is of the best in the country,let alone, the midwest!!I have tried just every beer on this list and still have to say G.L.B. all the way!!!Go Tribe;-)

  17. Timothy Fowler says

    I am voting for Schlafly. These folks love beer, beer drinkers, and talking about beer with beer drinkers. I love the variety and craftsmanship in what they offer.

  18. Mike says

    New Glarus, and founders, how am i sudpose to choose between the two? Alright alright… The winner is…. drum role please… … … New Glarus. I have had every one of Dan’s Unplugged beers since Enigma was released and i’ve been hooked ever since. Always an excellent style and always true to the representation of that style. New Glarus rules! But Founders is also a supreme brewery, I have a couple of KBS’ in my cellar right now. If you have never had kentucky breakfast stout. Than please do yourself a favor and find some. One of the best imperial bourbon barrel stouts in the world.

  19. Pat Maweeni says

    I’m not sure why Great Lakes isn’t leading the pack by leaps and bounds. In my experience and travels, there is simply no equal. While I always search out the local stuff whenever I travel, Great Lakes is always the yardstick and thus far, no one else tops them. It’s a shame there’s not a branch of GLB in St Louis for all those folks there who have to be content with their sub-standard suds :-)
    peace, my beer drinking brothers and sisters, and if you have not yet had the pleasure of GLB’s wonderous brews, get yourselves to Cleveland or get someone to send you some.

    I don’t have the explanation for it, but GLB simply cooks the best beer.

  20. Rhonda Tauer says

    August Schell Brewery has my vote not only can you have a great beer but Lake Maid rules I love the caps & have made a fun game of who can catch the biggest fish. Can’t wait to get my hands on more. Please send some to TX.

  21. J D says

    always support the locals, love the beer, can’t drink any thing else, born and raised… everyone we get to try it, likes the flavor, we get them hooked to. good job Schells, keep up the good work. Don’t change a thing…

  22. muffy lundbeck says

    Great Lakes Brewery is by far the best local brew out there. No contest. Not only their regulars like Dortmunder Gold or Commodore Perry, but the seasonal brews such as Black Out Stout and Nasferatu. Incredibly good. Rachael Ray thought so too when she came to Cleveland.

  23. Krista says

    August Schell has to be the best local craft brewery in the Midwest. Schell’s variety of beers appeal to people both near and far…Nothing beats a poked Dopple Bock at Schell’s annual Bockfest on a cold February day. It is also the 2nd Oldest Family Owned Brewery in the US and has been around for almost a century and a half. I have to say all of my visiting German colleuges and friend are excited and pleasantly surprised when they taste Schell Beer for the first time. Schell’s also supports the community and helps remind our quaint little city New Ulm of our deep German history and culture. Traveling to New Ulm to visit our fine August Schell Brewery is a day well spent….

  24. Kevin says

    What a great lineup! I voted for Schlafly, but Goose Island, Arcadia, New Glarus, Dark Horse, Bells…that’s a lot of really good choices. I once had a guy (very nice guy, by the way) tell me that there were no interesting beers in the Midwest. BAH!

  25. Jim says

    Any company that would go head to head against AB Inbev (ouch!) in their home market has got to be great!

    If you have not had Schlafly beer, you are missing out on some incredible variety. (over 30)

    If you want hops, the dry hopped APA may cause permanent dis-satisfaction with every other so called “hoppy” beer.

  26. says

    Schlafly Brewery in St. Louis has to be in one of the toughest markets in the whole country. Who could compete with the WORLD’S LARGEST BREWERY right in their own home town? Having lived here most of my life and witnessed how Schlafly started and has grown, I’ve seen how they conduct themselves in business and how they treat their customer. Whether it’s because they’re mimicking their classy, colossal competitor or because they themselves have all the character they need to run their business successfully, I’m proud of Schlafly as a St. Louis based business.

    And as far as the quality of their product, I’ve had beers from all over the world and used to travel all over the US and Canada, sampling the local beers and craft of the hometown breweries. I havea beer bottle collection of over 700. There are no other breweries that exceed the diversity and quality tastes that come in any bottle or growler of Schlafly beers, ales, and other fermented drinks.

  27. Allen Goebl says

    Great Lakes Brewing, by a long shot. I am proud to say that, I am a distant cousin of the brewers, living now in Spain. I know how hard they worked to perfect their beers over the years. When visiting my muggy native city, they never charged me for a cooling brew. Who wouldn’t vote for that?

  28. tom gabriel says

    A definitive vote for Summit EPA, and seasonals.
    I occasionally stray, but always come back.

  29. Bryce says

    Summit. Their EPA is a “classic” english style pale ale. One of the few session ales in the midwest.

  30. Roadkill Domeier says

    Schell’s, Had a few Schmaltz’s Alt this weekend. This is not some trendy brew pub beer that bottles a bit every so often. Not drank by yuppies but buy true beer drinkers, dirty mouths and purple noses. These are stong beers with a very consistant taste due to 150 years of family tradition. Da Kill

  31. Barb T. says

    My vote is for August Schell Brewery as they are the sponsor for my women’s bowling team.

  32. danny boy says

    August Schell lots of excellent choices, my favorite, Pils no, firebrick,,no, Maifest,, no Grain Belt Premium,,no Oktoberfest,, no well you get the idea!1

  33. Jeff says

    Summit Brewing Co. in St. Paul rocks, from their EPA and ESB to great seasonal brews like Maibock, Scandia and Oktoberfest. Nice folks, too, who stay involved in the community. Cheers!

  34. Patti says

    Schlafly’s is the best and since I am from St Louis but now live in Fla. but I miss going to their brewery/restaurant. I miss going in and looking at the chalkboard to see several beer choices and drinking my favorites and trying new ones. Tom Schlafly is the new King of Beers in STL.

  35. Rusty1024 says

    The great thing about Schlafly’s is they keep making new and seasonal brews all the time-many of which are never bottled. They were also able to succeed in a city where a huge corporate brewery monopolized beer production for decades. Now Schlafly’s is ironically the ONLY American beer made in St. Louis….
    Would love to try Great Lakes. Cleveland is a cool city.

  36. Terese says

    Without a doubt it has to be Schell’s beer – almost 150 years of satisfying thirsty Germans and others with refined taste. There’s a craft brew for every palate at this brewery!

  37. Hill says

    Long before Budweiser’s hostile takeover by Belgium’s INBEV, I was, and remain most impressed with Schlafly. In other words, my choice of Schlafly doesn’t stem from my rage concerning the loss of STL’s second “landmark,” after the Gateway arch, mediocrity of “King of Beers” products notwithstanding.

    Schlafly will eventually grow to be the true, undisputed Saint Louis Brewery it already calls itself, and hopefully will remain as consistently innovative, cranking out consistently excellent beers, ales, etc. It’ll do the entire Midwest proud (although last time I checked, the Dakotas are in the Great Plains region both by classification, topography, and culture, but, hey, the more states the better).

    I’ve lived in 12 states, three of them in the Midwest. To me, Schlafly’s mind-boggling array of superb brews and rapid growth makes voting for it a no-brainer. Mark my words, it’s the next big regional and then national brand.

    And, no, I don’t work for Schlafly. I’m a doc, so please drink in moderation :)

  38. Mike says

    All Schafly’s products are excellent but the pale ale is my favorite. I was introduced to the brewery by my daughter and son-in-law who have since moved to North Carolina. Now I am “required” to take them some Schafly’s whenever we go visit them.

  39. Rod says

    I guess since there really isn’t any criteria given for what constitutes “best,” then I suppose people can make up their own. It seems to me, in order to qualify as “best,” the main criteria should be best tasting. I live in St. Louis and love Schlafly and am proud that they are here but anyone who thinks their beers are even remotely close to the taste/quality of Founders, Three Floyds or Bells, has no business judging beer.

  40. The Real NWags says

    I wish I could try some more of these, had most of the Noreaster Illinois area and they are all some of my favorites, but I have to go with New Glarus since I really (I mean really) like all of the beers I have tasted from them, and they have my current favorite “Stone Soup”.

    Its is great to have so many options when it comes to craft beers!

  41. Dan says

    Without a doubt, it is Schlafly. Not a bad beer in the bunch. Nothing better than a fine Kolsch on a summer eve!!!

  42. Amber M says

    I totally MISS New Glarus. I would KILL for a ‘Spotted Cow’ or a ‘Fat Squirrel’ right now. :( VOTE NG!

  43. Bob says

    I vote for Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee WI. I have celiac disease and they have a gluten free beer, New Grist.

  44. Conrad KCMO says

    Schlafly ,Just laugh the others away.Schlafly has great taste and taste great.If 75th Street brewery KCMO bottled,They WOULD BE A CLOSE SECOND.

  45. Shawn D says

    I’m currently living in Spain, but I can’t proclaim loud enough how much I miss Schlafly’s variety of beers. So much love, care, and dedication go into their beers, whether it’s a year-round hefeweizen or a seasonal Belgian ale. I’ve tried a lot of beers around the midwest in my journeys, but Schlafly has my vote, by far.

  46. Dean Sullivan says

    Schlafly, hands down. BTW, the real name of the brewery is St. Louis Brewery. Schlafly is the brand of beer they make and the name of the owner (Tom Schlafly). I travel a lot in the midwest (and elsewhere) for work. It’s always good to be in St. Louis to have a brew from the best (and largest, now) American-owned brewery in St. Louis.

  47. Nathan says

    I agree that Great Lakes makes some great beer, but New Glarus is amazing. Since they only distribute in Wisconsin, I’m sure many have not had the oportunity to enjoy their beers. Dan Carey plays by his own rules and you can taste it in his beer!

  48. David says

    Yeah, I too expected to see Bell’s with more votes. I’ve never been, but have heard wonderful things about their beers. I actully live in Houston but visited Schlafly during a trip to STL in 2007, then was in STL again over this past Christmas and insisted that a large group of my family members go for a visit.

  49. Beer Fan says

    I thought for sure Great Lakes would be dominating. Recently got the opportunity to try out some of their beers at the Cleveland brewery and everything was great. So i was quite surprised when I saw that my hometown Schlafly was now in the lead. Huge fan of both thought.

  50. Jim Hensley says

    Another vote here for Schlafly. I think they do a great job with all of their beers. Wide selections and top quality. What more could you ask? They have a couple of brewpubs in STL. Going to the downtown location offer an opportunity to drink ale from the cask. A truly amazing experience.

  51. Ryan Heitsgebot says

    Had to vote for Schlafly, since, as a St. Louisan, I frequently enjoy their products on tap (as well as in bottles). Great Lakes isn’t in distribution here, as far as I know, so I haven’t tried it, but I look forward to the opportunity. I’m pretty surprised that Bell’s isn’t getting more votes; I’ve had some truly top-notch brews of theirs. Hats off to all these breweries, actually; I’d like to visit every one of them!

  52. lou says

    If you simply personally don’t care for the 24+ styles of beer that Schlafly bottles and the 20+ additional styles that are brewed in smaller batches at their breweries and only available on draft, then that is one thing. That is your opinion. This is a fun beer poll and it’s all about personal taste. However, it certainly is not accurate for “Schwags” to claim Schlafly doesn’t “care about the environment.” Schlafly’s plastic cups are #1 recyclable, their new tap handles are made from recycled/sustainable materials, both of their breweries were built out from existing abandoned buildings in St.Louis and rehabbed, they are one of the larger companies working with Pure Power that works with Ameren UE to purchase renewable energy credits (from wind power, etc.) to offset their electrical needs (Pure Power states that Schlafly’s enrollment “prevents 312,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year which is the equivalent of preserving 118 acres of forest storing carbon for one year or taking 30 cars off the road each year.”) Etc., Etc. Shoot them an email, I’m sure they would be happy to speak with you at length about everything they are trying to do as well as things they hope to be able to do in the future.

    Could they be doing more, sure…everyone could be doing more, but the keyword here is TRYING and they are certainly trying to do as much as they can to be responsible towards the environment and give back to their community as often as possible while still being realistic about the fact that they are running a business and have to make Payroll twice a month. Schlafly Beer isn’t going to save the world or stop global warming, but they are certainly going way out of their way to do the right thing. Believe it or not, but it takes far more than a desire to be “green” when you’re a relatively large company (especially in this economy,) it’s takes a lot of time, education, communication and money to essentially work against a system that rewards businesses who send work overseas. Schlafly may not have the means or scale of New Belgium or Sierra Nevada, but all things considered Schlafly is busting their butts to do everything they can to have as positive an impact on their community and as little of an impact on the environment as possible and I’m proud to have them as my local brewery.

    They also throw great parties and brew great beer.

  53. Schwags says

    I don’t what kind of stuff people are smoking up in St. louie but Great Lakes takes the cake. Schlafly, disappointing collection, and you don’t even care about the environment!

  54. Gary says

    Even if Schlafly didn’t brew several excellent beers they get kudos for surviving in the land of A-B. Perhaps, now that A-B is no longer an American Company, those die-hard lemmings swilling bud-light will look around town and notice a world class brewery in their midst.

  55. Gary says

    Even if they didn’t brew several excellent beers they get kudos for surviving in the land of A-B. Perhaps, now that A-B is no longer an American company, those die-hard lemmings swilling bud-light will look around town and notice a world class brewery in their midst.

  56. JB says

    O’Fallon should be on the list. Give them a few more years and they will be bigger than schlafly. But right now schlafly gets my vote.

  57. deanes says

    Schlafly brews some of the best beer I’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling. Wish they’d bottle and distribute so that I could get it out of state, rather than on occasional visits to St. Louis.

  58. GK says

    There is no better dark beer than Dragon’s Milk Ale by New Holland Brewing Co. A full flavored, sipping Ale that rivals anything put out by the vineyards. I only wish the brewery would expand its distribution, as it’s hard to find.

  59. janedub says

    Schlafly is the best! Delicious, great variety, wonderful seasonals… and a fantastic craft brewery experience.

  60. Matt Stiffelman says

    Schlafly in St. Louis is not only a great brewery, but a huge contributor to the local community and regional brewing community. My vote goes to Schlafly Another notable brewery is the Black Lotus Brewing Co. in Detroit.

    The voting feature on this site is not very easy to use, as a matter of fact, I have no idea how to vote for Schlafly on this site, there is no way I can tell to vote! There is no button to click on, and there are no instructions on where on the site you actually cast a vote. I may be blind and tech-dumb too.

  61. Andee Weinfurt says

    I’m very sorry to see that Weston Brewing Company in Weston, Missouri was omitted from the list. It is one of the nation’s oldest breweries and will soon be premiering as the brand-new Wizards stadium beer of choice in Kansas City. Hopefully that gets us on the list next time!

  62. A Schlafly Fan says

    Schlafly Beer is the absolute best beer in St. Louis. Always has been, always will be better than the so-called “beer” produced by a local brewing giant.

  63. Chuck Fuller says

    If you haven’t tried Schlafly’s then you are definitly missing out on one of if not the best..they brew the best Dry Hopped I’ve ever had (I was in the Air Force for 21 years and stationed in Europe, Asia and Central America). Their Oatmeal Stout is also beyond compare

  64. Paul Maday says

    August Schell Brewing company in New Ulm by far is one of the best
    Midwest Craft brewers. Check out there website for all of the different types of craft beers they offer. And they do also brew Grain Belt beers.
    My favorite craft beer is there Schell’s Firebrick along with
    there seasonal lakemaid beers. Try some you will enjoy! Paul

  65. AJ says

    How were these companies chosen? Where is Sprecher and Leinenkugel? Both companies have great brews and wide selections.

  66. G says

    I live in St. Louis and still enjoy A-B In-Bev products but Schlafly is my favorite beer. My favorites are the Scottish Ale and the Octoberfest. Worth a visit if in St. Louis!!!

  67. lisambucket says

    Schlafly Hefeweizen in St. Louis is a great beer. They make also make a saison ale that has terrific flavors in it.

  68. says

    Schlafly brewery for sure. You have to love all of the variety and special events that they put on. This is real beer made by real people with real heart.

  69. GreggD says

    Love the Folks, and the Beer at Schlafly’s and being from STL I vote for their brews. I am surprised that Boulevard in KC is not doing better. They make a great wheat, and I have had other good products from them as well. Comeon KC get in the game!

  70. GLBC_ROX says

    I venture out and try a lot of different brews. Sometimes I forget about Great Lakes since they are local. But then when we have people in from out of town that are beer fans, I always get an assortment of Great Lakes and I remember just how good they are!

  71. Dave says


    Hop Slam. best beer ever… EVER

    Expedition Stout. A meal with a good buzz at the end

    Two Hearted. excellent

    Beer for people who love beer.

  72. Criag D from Ft.Myers says

    God how I miss Great Lakes Brewery! I love living down here in Florida, but really miss Dan and Pat’s fine concoctions!!!!! I agree with Cogs comments, probably more Chrismas Ale consumed in Cleveland in December than any other beer. And rightfully so! Not to mention their great Green work ethics! Elliot Ness and Christmas Ale and Conway’s are some of my favorites. Someone please ship some down!

  73. John Mallon says

    I have been to a lot of these breweries, as well as many others. There are some really good one. Schlafly beer is as good as the best and has the most styles. Additionally, they have 3 great beer fests throughout the year. Cheers to Schlafly.

  74. says

    Schlafly Brewery gets my vote. With 10 regular beers on tap year round, and an additional 30 small batch brews offered seasonally throughout the year, variety is the name of the game. There is always something new to try and all of their beers are solid. They now have two brew pubs in the st. louis area and their food is as good as their beer. On your next trip to St. Louis feel free to take in the Arch, Zoo, Science Center, Museums and such if you have time, but definitely make sure you visit the Schlafly Tap Room and/or Schlafly Bottleworks. Grab a meal, take a tour and lift a few pints – you won’t be disappointed.

  75. Voltarine says

    I used to live in Cleveland & loved Great Lakes. But I gotta cast a vote for Schlafly (and that’s not 100 percent just because I’m in St. Louis now!). They are absolute sticklers/perfectionists when it comes to the brewing process, but still have an adventurous spirit when it comes to creating new beers … the only one so far I have not been able to get really excited about is the maple-flavored “Maplewood,” beer, but everything else is just top-notch.

  76. Robin U. says

    Having grown up in the Cleveland area, I agree with many of the commenters that GREAT LAKES is one of the top breweries in the US. Consistently exceptional quality beers. They make, quite possibly, the best Christmas Ale in the US. I actually have relatives buy me cases of it every year and then I have to figure out how to get the beer out to where I live.
    Having lived in Kansas City for 8 years, I also agree that BOULEVARD should not be taken lightly. I still haven’t found a US micro brew that can top their wheat beer or their Pale Ale. I moved to St. Louis and I still get excited if a restaurant or bar there serves Boulevard.
    But, ultimately, I voted for Schlafly Brewing in St. Louis because not only do they brew some truly stellar beers in the usual styles, but they brew so many different styles of beer so well. Getting to taste all of them at their Hop in the City event every year really allows you to compare them. I always come away with at least three or four beer styles added to my mental list of “the all-time great beers.”
    I’ve tasted beers in at least 10 other Midwest microbreweries, and I think these three are the best. All three are World Class. You can’t go wrong picking either one of them. Prost!

  77. says

    Grew up in Milwaukee and worked for Miller Brewing.
    Lakefront is my favorite Milwaukee brewery.
    You have to do the tour/fish fry/beer boat along with the great beers.

    Spent ten years in Ohio and I do like the Great Lakes offerings.

    However, having lived in Kansas City for over five years now, the most under rated brewery thus far in this poll is BOULEVARD here.
    They are world class- wheat, pale ale, IPA, the incredible Smokestack Series (Sixth Glass Quad is my choice).

  78. says

    Great Lakes is the yardstick by which I measure all others. When I travel I always seek out the craft-brewed beers. While there is some good beer out there, nothing quite compares to Great Lakes. I don’t know how they manage, but it’s just simply the best beer. Goose Island comes in second, in my book, also with some good beer, but in the end, glass for glass, every time, it’s Great Lakes Brewing. Thankfully, it’s only an hour away from my house!

    I used to be a home brewer. I made my first trip to GLB the second week they were open (good news travels fast) and I’ve not brewed a drop since. They cook the best beer.

  79. randallhank says

    I think the main thing Great Lakes has going for it is the strength of the entire catalogue. Not really a bad beer in the bunch, and pretty much all of them are notably excellent. Plus there are a few real standouts. Amongst the regulars is what most consider the best American Porter in the Edmund Fitzgerald, and the classic Dortmunder Gold (not one of my favorites anymore, but a pretty great beer for those who haven’t had a thousand of them). The Burning River is a fantastic summertime beer, and the Elliot Ness Lager, the closest thing they have to a session beer, is a real winner too. About the only one that isn’t outstanding is the Holy Moses — it’s just merely good. Now the real standouts: Blackout Stout, Moondog ESB, Nosferatu, and Christmas Ale. Oh, and the Commodore Perry is a very solid IPA.

    There are no doubt some amazing breweries on that list, some with several outstanding beers on a par with (and perhaps even better than) anything Great Lakes does. But front to back, Great Lakes has more better beers than just about anyone in the country.

  80. diug walker says

    As predicted, mine isn’t here. Bloomington Brewing Co. Best pale I’ve had. This “Great Lakes” must be something! A lot of you seem to like it. I’m sure they must make a pale ale or an IPA…whats the word on those?

  81. Cogs says

    Great Lakes – their “staples” such as Dortmunder Gold are day in and day out favorites, and then their seasonals like Christmas Ale and Conway’s Irish Ale are absolutely fabulous. I bet that in the month of December more Christmas Ale is sold/consumed in NE Ohio than Bud or Miller Lite… would love to see some statistics on that one.

  82. tony says

    Spotted Cow is The best. No question about that. It is just hard to find outside of Wisconsin. Go to WI and try it. You will agree

  83. pattyM says

    Is there any other beer worth drinking besides Great Lakes?? Still have some Blackout Stout saved to drink another day!

  84. BrianH says

    Well, my vote is definitely Great Lakes, but hey, I’m 40 minutes from the brewery. This is all just a celebration of great beer; it makes me want to get to some of the other high ranked pubs and try them out someday. I love to find different brew-pubs when traveling; sometimes not-so-good beer, sometimes good beer, sometimes great beer. I’m sure many of the other top rated make great beers. Great Lakes doesn’t have just a small number of great beers, most of what they make is great. Liquid bread. Yum.

  85. medfest says

    Great Lakes all the way!The others all have great beers,but all of Great Lakes brews are outstanding not a weak one in the bunch!

  86. Mark says

    I agree with Greg. Great Lakes is awesome (and I’d love for a Cleveland beer to win) but it’s no Founders. And, for what it’s worth, Founders is no Bells. How Bells isn’t simply dominating this poll I may never know.

  87. StartsWithK says

    Gotta go with Great Lakes, THE best thing to happen to Cleveland since Zubal’s :)

  88. says

    WOW! Is this thing rigged? I can’t believe how wildly NON-distributed the votes are. I’m a Clevelander and enjoy most Great lakes brews (‘specially Bourbon barrel aged Blackout Stout & Rackhouse Ale)) but I have to vote for Founders. Founders Red’s Rye(PA) is one of the few GREAT beers that I can make a session out of. (And the Breakfast Stout is nothin’ to sneeze at either!)

  89. rickh says

    Great Lakes is it! Dortmunder Gold IS the best lager but Elliot Ness is very good.

    Burning river pale ale and Conway’s Irish ale are both excellent as well.

    Goose Island is a stellar runner up, along with New Glarus-Fat Squirrel and spotted cow ROCK!

  90. BOB WISOUSKY says

    Great Lakes Brewing Company Dortmunder, hands down THE best real beer.

    None of those namby pamby cholate fuity-tooty cupcake espresso latte types. This is a REAL beer, drinkable as your daily choice and my selection by an overwhelming margin.

    Nothing is even close……

  91. Jeff says

    All of these should be proud of their beer – I have tried most and actually visited many. But I have to vote for Great Lakes. They have a great “green” approach to brewing and have some of the best beers I’ve ever had, including Nosferatu, Christmas Ale, Burning River Pale, Commodore Perry IPA, Edmund Fitzgerald Porter and Moondog, just to name some of my faves. I also like the fact that each is an historical reference to Cleveland – nothing like a history lesson that’s tasty too!

  92. Grace says

    It is of course Greatlakes! Great beer from a great town. The Conway brothers really know their beer.

  93. Bruce says

    Great Lakes has seasonals every month. I can not wait until they open that last keg of Christmas Ale this summer! Come visit and try their Brewmasters Dinner, now that’s eating and drinking!

  94. Nick Waggoner says

    Great lakes can be identified as one of the greatest brew pubs of all time. They care about the environment, the make AMAZING beer, both seasonal and year rounds, and their pub is one of a kind. Go and see for your self on Market street in Cleveland.

  95. Derek Mason says

    Great Lakes is by far the best. They went smoke free in the early 90’s when no one would dare think about it. Also, they have been environmentally conscious and supportive of the green movement since the early days of GLBC.

  96. Artie says

    Great Lakes Brewery. A totally green company that makes remarkable beer. What more could you ask for?

  97. Karen says

    has to be Great Lakes Brewery…no one can beat Nosferatu, Blackout Stout, Elliot Ness…need I go on? just visit & you’ll be convinced.

  98. Bob says

    If you haven’t had the Great Lakes Christmas Ale then you don’t know what you’re missing! I’m already counting down the days until it’s available again this year.

  99. Patrick says

    Another vote for August Schell Brewing Company. New Ulm makes a great Dark beer and has a great seasonal selection!

  100. says

    I love me my Milwuakee brews, go Lakefront Brewery!!! But where is Central Waters in this list? They brew amazing beer!

  101. Brian says

    August Schell’s has fantastic speality brews. Fire Brick and Blonde Dopple Bock are particularly good. If you haven’t tried them you are missing out. If you are near New Ulm, in south central Minnesota, you should vist the brewery. Come in the summer and walk the beautiful gardens, listen to the peacocks call, visit the on site brewing museum and the gift shop and of course you can tour the brew haus. At the end of the tour relax in the tap room, or on the deck overlooking the Cottonwood River Valley, while sipping on some of the best craft beer you can find.

  102. Greer says

    Great Lakes Brewing Company Forever! Christmas Ale, Burning River, Alberta Clipper, Conway’s Irish Ale, Blackout Stout… you can’t beat it.

  103. Vaughn B says

    Schlafly’s made me smart… “Well ya see, Norm, it’s like this… A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers.” Cliff Clavin

  104. Steve says

    It was a very close call between Schlafly and Bells – both put out some excellent stuff.

  105. NS says

    Schlafly FTW!! I have drink all types of microbrew beer and Schalfly beer by far has the most rich and full bodied flavor out of them all.

  106. MJ says

    I love Schlafly’s beer. It is by far the best beer made in STL and I hope all other beer drinkers will give it a shot.

  107. Scot says

    Schlafly rules, the coffee stout is best out of the tap! And their pumpkin beer is the best!!

  108. Ronin says

    Schlafly’s!!! Folks, Ive been round the world several times, Asia, Pac Rim, Central & South America & Europe! Drank a lot of beer in lots of pubs & bars & I gotta tell ya, Schlaflys has the best all round selection of tastes and blends that any beer lover from any part of the world would want! Something for everyone! Two different locations & two different breweries ( under the same name!) in the same town, competeing with each other for the best brews! Hosts of some GREAT Beer festivals and a draw for some of the nicest people I’ve ever met!

    A/B may have made St. Louis the center of the Beer Industry in the US, but Schlafly is the “New Religion In Mecca”!

  109. Jonathan says

    I promise you all this – I hated beer. HATED I tell you. A friend of mine challenged me that “Dude, there’s totally a beer out there for any ONE!” She said, “I will take you – my treat – to Schlafly, I promise you, I can think of at least three beers there you’ll like if not love.” So I took her up on her offer. I swear! I fell in love with their beer. LOVE it! Now please keep in mind – I had been open to try, and have tried, a countless many beers beforehand in my life. I finally settled on the best. I urge you all, whoever you love and support and drink — and lets face it, they all deserve our love — please give your mouth one sweet vacation on the beach of Schlafly’s ocean.

  110. Dave S says

    August Schell has a good selection of products,all top shelf.
    I can heartily recomend them all.

  111. says

    I have frequented many a brew pub from east coast to the west coast, but schlafly’s keeps me in Saint Louis with its absolute best beers, food and people. The bartenders are the best at the Bottleworks and the live music is always outstanding! who can beat stopping by for a growler Saison or Octoberfest in the fall and in the summer stocking up on Bière de Garde!

  112. Fred McEntee says

    Schlafly is the greatest Beer ever, and they serve great food at their restaurants!Scotch Ale Yummy, Barley Wine WOW, Imperial Stout, Man oh man do they brew the good stuff there.

  113. JV says

    There’s some fine microbrews on the list (honorable mention to Goose Island and Boulevard), but it gets no better than Schlafly!

  114. Debbie Zahn says

    Ausust Schell’s Brewery is a destination, surrounded by State Park and the Cottonwood river….what a setting!! Lot’s of German history too!

  115. Terry Sveine says

    August Schell Brewery puts out so many good beers, for so long (1860) that they have to be among the best in the country.

    I personally really like their Mai Fest and their Hefe Weizen is my favorite beer in the world!

    Watch for their big “to do” for their 150th Anniversary in 2010!
    I will have to attend it.

  116. ariel says

    schlafly is independent and amazing! dedicated, heartfelt, and consistently outstanding beer. quality atmosphere, great people, and did i say beer? Cask ales, #15…can’t wait until american brown becomes a standard.

  117. says

    Lots of great breweries on the list but I don’t see Town Hall Brewery in Minneapolis, MN. Sure, they can’t distribute through liquor stores but anyone wanting to pick up a growler can take their product home. I’d vote for them.

    Actually, can I vote multiple times? I’d also like to vote for Flat Earth Brewing out of St Paul and Lift Bridge in Stillwater.

  118. fender says

    “MMMM….. Great Lakes Christmas Ale….
    trust me, the best you will ever have. Bars sell out of it in less than a week, stores run out of it before Christmas. Amazing…

    I say they should do a Christmas in July launch!”

    They do. Very limited run.

  119. says

    These type of surveys are absurd at best and stupid at worst. What’s the point? Other than to get some people all worked up and argue over who is the best. They are all “the best” in my book. In order to even vote, I would think you would need to have visted all the Brewerys listed and sampled most of their beers, plus the ambience and charm and history of the Brewery needs to be a factor, not just the beer. Plus there are quite a few not even listed.

  120. Torborg Jones says

    “Katie says:
    April 21, 2009 at 10:55 am
    Umm…isn’t Schlafly Brewery owned by Budweiser? Kind of defeats the purpose of putting it on a craft brewery list…”

    I don’t think you could be any more incorrect.

    Schlafly is the anti-AB/InBev.

  121. Dave says

    No, Schlafly is not owned by A-B InBev/Budweiser. They are independent, and put out a hell of a good beer.

  122. type says

    Schlafly. Hands down. Quality, variety, eco-friedly, staff/brewers are amazing and great people.

  123. Jim Barone says

    While I am confident that every brewery represented here crafts excellent beers; I am partial to Great Lakes.

  124. Katie says

    Umm…isn’t Schlafly Brewery owned by Budweiser? Kind of defeats the purpose of putting it on a craft brewery list…

  125. says

    Ohio is in the Midwest…

    Philadelphia is still 1,000 miles from Akron,Ohio.
    Pennsylvania is like driving threw 3 or Ohio’s.

  126. Ted says

    Riverwest is one of Lakefront’s many fine brews. And what a great place to visit. Fun Friday fish fry, terrific tours, great location on the Milwaukee River and damn fine beer. If you go, make sure you check out Bernie’s old slide from County Stadium.

  127. E. Pullekins says

    Hoppin Frog has made great strides over the last few years….truly….a work in progress and well done….

  128. Geo says

    Hoppin’ Frog is absolutely the best beer in the Mid-West. Try Hoppin’ beers various flavors, one or more will agree with your palate.

  129. Ang says

    MMMM….. Great Lakes Christmas Ale….
    trust me, the best you will ever have. Bars sell out of it in less than a week, stores run out of it before Christmas. Amazing…

    I say they should do a Christmas in July launch!

  130. Rudy S. says

    I’m from Ohio and we are well represented here in the Midwest.
    Love Great Lakes but the best beer by far is Hoppin Frog.
    If you’ve not tried it, you ought to. Finding it in Ohio and East.

  131. Amy K says

    Surprised Madison, WI’s Ale Asylum and Lincoln, NE’s Empyrean weren’t in the top 30. Anyway, glad I live in Wisconsin–so close to so many great craft brewed beers.

  132. Andy Krunt says

    Lakefront is my favorite on here, but I have to go with Central Waters as my personal fave. Surprised that Capital isn’t doing better.

  133. colliegirl says

    Lakefront has my undying devotion for making gluten-free New Grist.

    I love you guys!!

  134. milwbrew says

    Please add Milwaukee Brewing Company! Louie’s Demise has been rocking SE Wisconsin for many years.

  135. Bryan says

    I think Sprecher produces a bit too much to be termed a “craft brewery”, hence their absence from this list. Looking over the rest of the breweries makes me appreciate living in Milwaukee even more – having so many great brews available.

  136. Troy says

    I love Great Lakes…but I don’t consider Ohio to be the midwest. It’s one state from the Atlantic Ocean, it’s more like the mid-east. As a beer lover from Wisconsin, I chose someplace closer to home. Quite a few great breweries here, plus a few whose brews I have yet to sample!

  137. Dave Snith says

    I love Hoppin Frog beers. Thier new beer Outta Kilter Scotch Red is the best I have ever had. I live in California and cannot get it here. I had it in Ohio and can’t wait until Hoppin Frog is distributed here.

  138. says

    The problem here is that most of you were probably born in Indiana and don’t know any better. The fact that Jolly Pumpkin only has 12 votes reiterates that point.

  139. Shari says

    Lakefront is the best. Lots of fun!!! We go back every year, sometimes twice a year. Their Gluten Free New Grist is awesome. The entire celiac community should support Lakefront Brewery. Thanks for making gluten free beer!!!! See you this summer!!!

  140. rkpsycho says

    I’m torn between several choices I’d wager that if anyone was able to try Shorts Brewing they would be getting tons of votes; I’ve visited a couple of times and I’m in dire need to get some more of Joe’s wonderful beers. But they’re just starting to bottle and distribute within MI.

    Hoppin’ Frog though if phenomenal … if you ever get a chance to get Fred’s Silk Porter filtered over fresh coffee beans, think hops Randall but with coffee beans, then you’ll think you’ve died and gone to beer haven.

    I’m stuck in beer wasteland that is Dayton, OH … so anything will do.

  141. Jim says

    Please add Ale Asylum to the list. They have terrific beers that are top notch. Worth a ride to Madison, WI.

  142. Barry says

    Lakefront by far!!! (1) Great Variety. (2) Many have great taste depending on what you like. (3) Small, casual atmosphere with happy, engaging staff. Example: Take a Friday afternoon tour and you may find your tour guide to be the CEO, Russell Klisch, himself. If you’ve ever met him you’ll find he’s a very laid back guy who has a neat sense of humor, is well liked by his staff, and really enjoys his craft. Not many breweries can boast that!

  143. Rob says

    I have to vote for Great Lakes overall, but Lakefront would be my #2. You really should include Sprecher in the group also, they make some pretty decent brews. Lakefront Cream City Pale Ale is my favorite beer overall…….why don’t you ship more of it up here to N. Wisconsin??? (can’t seem to find it locally).

  144. Ryan says

    Every time I drink a Kalamazoo Stout I am surprised how good it is, even though I’ve had so much of it. Although I voted Bell’s, I am surprised that Founder’s isn’t winning.

    Sprecher and New Glarus are very overrated. Neither one of them has made anything that impressed me.

  145. Kate says

    Lakefront is actually the second best, but the most fun! My fav is Minhas, Monroe WI

  146. says

    a little surprised, too, by Sprecher’s absence…
    Goose Island’s p.d.g.
    so’s….. there’s a few good breweries here!
    but, Lakefront, for sure

  147. Joyce Robertson says

    Hoppin’ Frog Smashin’ Berry Ale is the best. I consider it to be a legal drug because it’s so addicting!!

  148. Mr.Fabulous says

    Lakefront by a longshot. I remember when it was impossible to find Riverwest anywhere west of the river. Now it’s everywhere (in MKE). Hoo HOOO! And New Grist is *the best* GF beer in the land… many heart-felt thanks to the people at Lakefront for New Grist (I can drink beer again!!).

  149. Labuns says

    Although many of these breweries are of OUTSTANDING quality and all their hard work is thanked by my happy belly…. Metropolitan Brewing in Chicago should be added.

  150. Brew Muse says

    I love the sours of New Glarus and Jolly Pumpkin.. no question they are great beers. But, for me, Hoppin’ Frog is the best. No matter what he brews, it’s a big flavorful beer: Hoppin’ to Heaven IPA, Mean Manalishi double IPA, Gulden Fraug Belgian, Smashing Berry Dark (Fruit beer for those who don’t like fruity beers), Silk Porter– just like it says… silky smooth, one of the best Wheat beers ever, and of course, the gold medal winning BORIS the Crusher! The latest is a wonderful Outa Kilter Scotch Ale. All great beers!

  151. vank says

    hoppin frogs, gulden fraug belgian style is it for me. fred really knows how to produce winners with boris crusher oatmeal wow.

  152. Cephas says

    If you haven’t tried BORIS the Crusher Oatmeal Imperial Stout from Hoppin’ Frog Brewery you are missing a treat!

  153. FredOfBeer says

    Hoppin’ Frog Brewery made the list – great to see my favorite!! Hoppin’ Frog’s BORIS The Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout is incredibly tasty, and won GOLD at the GABF last year for the Imperial Stout category, one of the most respected styles. And, Mean Manalishi Double IPA has so much great hop character going on, its like kissing the hops – it makes me hoppiest!!

  154. JEN says

    I am spoiled by Wisconsin beer. New Glarus, I don’t know what I would do without you, especially after being in Texas and tasting the beer from there.

  155. Not Stewart says

    Schlafly. Beer the way it used to be. They get my vote because their beer is great and because I hear their brewery tours are amazing. Now if only they’d bring back APA Lime and the low-carb “Schlafly Ulterior”

  156. Scott says

    Lived in Milwaukee for three years, and am very surprised not to see Sprecher on your list. Best brewery in America’s Beer Capital!

  157. Brink says

    I can honestly say I’ve NEVER had a bad beer from New Glarus, and I’ve tried tons of them. The best, bar none.

  158. Tom says

    Where’s Central Waters? They’re up there with (possibly better than)New Glarus in my mind. Sprecher and Sand Creek should be on there as well. If only they were ALL available at my local beer vendor.

  159. Danielle says

    New Glarus. Definitely in my “Top 5 Things I Miss About Wisconsin,” right behind “Family” and “Friends.”

  160. RJJR says

    OMG, I only like two beers and Spotted Cow is one of them (the other is foreign). So there you have it, I had to vote for New Glarus!

  161. jenn says

    I just moved to the West Coast and I just have to say I REALLY miss Schlafly’s! There are some great micros in my city but Schlafly’s beats ’em all! Can’t wait to go home next month and partake in a pint or 3!

  162. DS says

    Good list, but definitely missing O’Fallon. I would have included Mueller (Springfield, MO) too.

  163. Dave J says

    Where is O’Fallon Brewery. They are distributed in almost all of the states in this poll.

  164. Jim says

    This isn’t really fair is it? Many of these breweries don’t distribute very far. Boulevard specifically. You can’t get it in Chicago.

  165. says

    Not only Does Great Lakes Brewery carry my favorite Dortmunder but it also works diligently to improve the quality of life in Cleveland, OH. I saw the documentary POLY CULTURE; FOOD WHERE YOU LIVE at the CIFF in March and was so excited about the work Great
    Lakes does to make organic gardening and organic products a part
    of there community efforts.

  166. says

    Holly, This Christmas I will trade u a six of the great lakes for a six of Schlafly Christmas Ale… its all about the love. I love to give christmas ale assortments as gifts. I will mix and match multiples of winter seasonals and give them out.

  167. says

    I love going to the Schlafly brewery in Maplewood, Mo. My hubby and son tour their attached garden, while I try the sampler (5 favorites and one seasonal brew)… I’ve never had a Schlafly I didn’t like.

  168. says

    Great Lakes Brewing Company – hands down the best… not just in regional categories but anywhere. Black-out Stout and Christmas Ale are my personal favs!

  169. says

    I am a KC transplant living in STL. I used to love Boulevard, but being a homebrewer, I can’t in good conscience vote for someone who has screw off caps. The others are good, but Schlafly has my heart.

  170. Chris says

    Bell’s was my choice. They make a variety of great beers from the Double Cream Stout to the Two Hearted Ale. One of these days I plan on making a trip to Kalamazoo to visit the brewery.

  171. Lizzie says

    I have to echo Ken’t comment – where is Sand Creek Brewing Company in Black River Falls? With 3 gold World Beer Cup medals, I think they rate this survey. They are also the brewing location for Furthermore.

  172. Matt says

    Dan Carey of New Glarus has been brewing great beers since before he and Deb founded New Glarus, at Kessler in Montana.

  173. says

    After traveling near and far and sampling craft beer along the way, I have to give Columbus Brewing Company “two thumbs up”. That they’ve been at it a long time and produce award-winning beers is almost an afterthought around Columbus. At forefront of people’s thoughts is how truly amazing their beer tastes. A treasure is something you “dig” – and it’s pretty obvious that the citizens of Central Ohio, “dig” Columbus Brewing Company.

  174. RayRay says

    I’d vote for Three Floyd’s, but they stopped distributing to NJ. So I went with my second choice, Founder’s. In my top 5 brewers in the US.

  175. Chris Rahr says

    What happened to Weston Brewing / O’Malleys, Weston MO just North of K.C.?????

    Makr sure they sre on your list of Mid-West Brewers, Thank you.

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