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These Are My “Go-To” and “No-Go” Breweries – How About You?

I was thinking about the Brooklyn Brewing Company this morning and how dismissive I am of their beers.  I’ve had some good stuff from them (Local 1 comes to mind first) but when I’m buying beer, I immediately look away when I see their swoopy “B” logo.  I respect what they do as a brewery and Garrett Oliver’s work both as a brewmaster and an advocate for craft beer, but when I’m spending my money, Brooklyn is typically a “no-go.”  There’s just something about their beers that doesn’t grab me.

At the other end of the spectrum is Schlafly.  I’ve loved everything I’ve had from them, and when I see their stuff it usually winds up in my cart. They are definitely one of my “go-to” breweries, and I feel like they brew their stuff just for me, as if they know what I love in a beer and they make sure to put it in every bottle.

Now a smart blogger wouldn’t burn bridges with breweries by saying they don’t enjoy their stuff, but there’s a couple of things to consider here.  First and foremost, I’m not a smart blogger.  If I was, this site would be all about celebrity nipple sips and Don and I would retire on the ads we sell.  Secondly, just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean plenty of other folks don’t love it.  That’s the great thing about craft beer – there’s a beer (or a dozen) to suit everyone’s taste.  The other side of that coin is that not everything will appeal to everyone.

With all of that said, here are my “go-to” and “no-go” breweries off the top of my head at this particular moment. 

You’ll see that certain great breweries didn’t make the “go-to” list, like Dogfish Head, The Bruery, and Russian River. This isn’t because they aren’t awesome, it’s just that I either can’t get their stuff (and how can you “go-to” something that you can’t actually go and get?) or that many of their beers are more complex and challenging than those brewed by the breweries above, and I consider them to be makers of “occasion” beers, not every day go-to breweries.

You may also be surprised to see Sierra Nevada on the list of “no-go” beers.  I was surprised when i wrote it!  But if I’m being honest, I tend to stay away from their stuff for reasons slightly out of my grasp.  I think it might be that I consider them pioneers whose beers were a revelation 15 years ago, but are now kind of run-of-the-craft-mill.  I’m not 100% sure, I just know I always pass them up even after having tried many of their offerings in the past.

Anyway, that’s my list.  I bet some of my go-to’s are your no-go’s, and some of my no-go’s are beer you love.  As I said, to each their own – that’s what makes the world of craft beer so wonderful.

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Categories: Beer, Lifestyle

Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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110 Comments on “These Are My “Go-To” and “No-Go” Breweries – How About You?”

  1. November 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    I totally respect the “no-go” angle. I didn’t read it as you NOT liking thier offerings, but as you said… they don’t grab you. There are exceptions to every rule, i.e. Sierra Nevada Celebration and Bigfoot (even though I rarely, if ever, go for their other brews). As for Brooklyn, the same thing goes for me. With the exception of Black Choco Stout and Monster, I typically steer clear. Of course in Alabama, that’s not an option since they pulled out of the state! I’m right there with you on the Flying Dog. The novelty has worn off for me. Oskar Blues, Victory, Schlafly and bottles of Southern Tier are not available here either which really blows! Some good southern go-to’s for me are Terrapin and Good People. If I’m in the mood for some beer and don’t wanna dip into my cellar, I’ll usually pick up a 6 or 4 of those two brews. Of course with the holiday season upon us, the winter seasonals will keep me busy for a while! Cheers!

    • November 17, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

      You nailed it – it’s not that they are bad, they just aren’t for me. These breweries have been a success because people love their stuff, so this is obviously just my preference, not the law of the land.

      It’s interesting how region affects “go-to” status. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve had from Terrapin, but i haven’t had a lot.

  2. November 17, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    I have Great Lakes more than probably every other brewery combined. And while I do think it’s an excellent brewery, it’s more about convenience. Great Lakes and Sam Adams are about the only craft breweries I can get here without going to a specialty shop. So if I’m out grocery shopping and want to pick up a 6 pack of something, those are my only options

    • November 17, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

      Oh man, I didn’t even think of Sam Adams. That should have been on my No-Go list.

      • November 17, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

        I thought of Sam, but I’ve had some good stuff from them and respect what they’ve done for “better beer” so I keep an open mind. That said, they *almost* made my no-go list…

        • November 17, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

          …but Sierra Nevada fits that same description according to your thoughts above. I call East Coast bias!!!

        • November 17, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

          I call “regional preference!” 🙂

    • November 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

      Options make a difference here for sure. I guess I’m spoiled because I can turn my nose up at some pretty good stuff around here!

  3. November 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    I think I know what you’re getting at here. Here’s my list:

    Go To:
    Great Divide
    Odell
    Oskar Blues
    Stone
    Deschutes

    No Go:
    Avery’s regular six-pack lineup
    New Belgium
    Anchor
    Alaskan
    Full Sail

    That was difficult!

    • November 17, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

      That’s funny, I had Great Divide on my Go-to list, but thought CO was already pretty well represented. I wish Odell’s was available by me, as I keep hearing great things.

      I also had New Belgium on my “no-go” list, but I swapped them out for Saranac because it’s so much more prevalent in these parts (plus I’ve taken some shot at them here in the past).

      • November 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

        If I could redo my No-Go list, I would probably swap out New Belgium for Sam Adams, because I have consumed a lot of their Lips of Faith beers and Ranger IPA recently. I can’t remember the last time I bought a six pack of anything from Boston Beer Co.

        • November 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

          I saw fancy Sam Adams bombers with funky labels at the beer store the other day. Maybe I should do a review and see how well they hang with the kids these days…

        • November 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

          I’ve seen those as well, but keep passing them by. I’m sure they’re very good, but the “Sam Adams” on the label must scare me off. If you buy one, I will too and we can compare notes.

      • Mark S.
        November 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

        I’ve had quite a few of the “Imperial” series stuff from Sam Adams (the 4 packs), and they are very good. Not sure how good the “limited series” bombers are, but I picked up the Red IPA and one other.

        • November 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

          We reviewed Sam’s Imperial series on the podcast (remember the podcast, anyone?!) and they were really good, and a good value, too. I’m gonna have to try the new ones…

    • November 21, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

      I agree with New Belgium EXCEPT for their Ranger IPA. I like that plenty! But the rest don’t do it for me. Hmmmm, I can’t blow off an entire brewery if I like just 1 of their products can I? Now, Alaskan on the other hand I can agree with; Haven’t had one I’ve liked yet. Oh, and InBev.

  4. Full Tun
    November 17, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    Awesome topic. I have thought about this a bunch, sometimes with the grain sometimes against. Region definitely has a part to play. Here are mine
    Go to:Bruery, Russian River, New Glarus (when someone shares them with me), Firestone Walker, Deschutes, Alpine, Mammoth Brewing
    No Go: Dogfish Head(even though I get sucked into buying their beers), New Belgian, Big Sky, Iron Fist

    • November 17, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

      Good choices! I think it’s funny how DFH is on your “no-go” list but still manages to get you money!

      • Full Tun
        November 17, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

        Yes, I love their creativity, but I believe that the base beer and the regular styles are weak and not well made. So I usually try a beer once from them and then never again. You can’t build an interesting beer if your foundation is poor. That being said people love their beer. I am just not one of them.

  5. David
    November 17, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    I picked up a six pack of sierra Nevada celebration ale last night. It reminded me how completely awesome Sierra Nevada is.

    • November 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

      I recall Celebration disappointing me because it didn’t taste like “Christma” to me (lame reason, I know) but maybe I’ll try again. I keep doing that with SN – trying again and going “meh.”

      • November 17, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

        The fact that Celbration is not a Christmas beer should be noted. It’s a year end brew to celebrate the ‘freshness’, if you will of a new year. Freshly hopped and enjoyable IPA. A nice break in the monotony of winter beers requiring to be porters, stouts or spiced ales. Not taking anything away from Anchor Christmas or any other ‘Christmas’ ale, I like those too

        • November 17, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

          I hear you, but it comes out around the holidays, so I judge it (unfairly?) with the rest of the offerings. The one Christmas beer that disappointed me most was Anchor Steam – funny how we’re on opposite ends of the spectrum! There’s something about the way that beer is spiced that rubs me the wrong way, but I now legions of folks love it.

        • Matthew
          November 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

          Calling Celebration a “fresh hopped” beer is something of a misnomer. As far as I’m aware, it uses freshly dried hops, not “wet” hops like most harvest beers.

        • November 17, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

          Good to know about Celebration. I’d shied away because it might’ve been just another porter or stout. Gimme hops and no one gets hurt.

    • David
      November 17, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

      My go to list would be: Hair of the dog, Russian River, Port, Green Flash, Ballast point.

      My no go list would include dogfish head, Sam Adams, flying dog, The Bruery

      • November 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

        I wish Russian River could be on my go-to list, but they don’t go-to New Jersey!

        • November 17, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

          I just realized I know someone who lives in Santa Rosa, which is where Russian River is. I’m going to have to make up a list for her to ship to me!

  6. Matthew
    November 17, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    My go-to breweries are: Deschutes, Sierra Nevada, Central City and Driftwood.

    No-go breweries would be: BrewDog, Dead Frog, Widmer Brothers, Rogue and Elyssian.

    • November 17, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

      Funny about Rogue – early on they were one of my go-to’s, but then I realized all of their Pc-Man beers tasted the same, so they became “no-go” mostly.

      • Matthew
        November 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

        I generally like their taprooms, but their bottles are generally just a bit more expensive than others. Also, I heard a few stories about them treating their workers like shit and that made me not want to support them.

        They do have a couple of beers I genuinely enjoy though, their John-John Juniper is fantastic.

        • November 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

          I had the Juniper – it was interesting and kind of reminded me of absinthe, which might be something you want to try if you enjoy that flavor profile.

    • November 17, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

      Deschutes, Sierra Nevada top my go-to list as well, along with Bridgeport and maybe Ninkasi.

      No-go: New Belgium, Full Sail, Widmer, Elysian.

      • November 17, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

        I think it’s interesting that you can guess where someone lives based on their lists. Are you in Washington State?

        • November 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

          Yup, but the best stuff around here seems to come from Oregon.

        • November 17, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

          We have some proud Washington readers who would disagree, but I think Oregon is an awesome low key beer state.

        • Matthew
          November 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

          British Columbia for me, but I travel to Oregon and Washington regularly to stock up on beer.

          Ninkasi is one I do quite like, but I find my go-to is more likely to be something I can get a 6 pack of than bombers. I don’t know why that is.

  7. November 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    I tend to avoid Sierra Nevada as well, at least partially for the reasons you’ve stated. Avery is fantastic. I don’t know that I’d put it as a “go-to” but it’s definitely a product I’m glad to purchase. Unibroue would be a go-to for me.

    Schlafly- especially here in St. Louis where I can find so much of their line- is a go-to, with the caveat that there are certain styles I avoid. Go-to options would include their stouts, the Oktoberfest, anything in the 750 ml bottles, and a bunch of stuff they have at both the Tap Room and the Bottleworks. The Bavarian Style Weissbier has been my fallback option fnow for 7 months. The ones I avoid are the Pale Ale (burnout), the Kolsch, and the APA. They’re all fine brews, but maybe a bit overhopped for my personal tastes.

    Boulevard teeters on the brink of being a go-to. Capital is absolutely a go-to, as is New Glarus.

    • November 17, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

      My wife is a big Unibroue fan, with Maudite being her favorite, so that stuff is always in my fridge.

  8. Beer Me!!!
    November 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    I like all the ‘No-Go’s, all of them (some more than others) and haven’t even had a shafly, oscar blues, or even an avery? and Southern Tier has never impressed me, if they brew a good beer i haven’t met it… I’ll give you Victory though. I thought this article was about ‘breweries’ not simply the product they make also, but whatever, you’re the blogger, btw, whats your favorites from southern tier? they’re in the stores maybe i missed something…

    • November 17, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

      I usually stick with the bombers for ST, with Oat, Mokah, their DIPA, and Chokolat being my favorites. All are huge in your face beers that you have to be in the mood for, but you’ll taste and feel them all the way down to your toes, which really hits the spot some times.

      • Beer Me!!!
        November 17, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

        i totally forgot about Phin n Matts, haven’t had that in a long time, but liked it, i just checked their website, they brew alot of friggin varieties, thanks for the suggestions, will look for em

  9. November 17, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    Can I have a sometimes-go? I don’t really always buy dogfish, but I like to get pretty much every new special release one they put out. I even just picked up the Pearl Jam one.

  10. November 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    As a daily drinker I have yet to find another brewery with the product width and cost/deliciousness ratio of Sierra Nevada. They have made some questionable seasonal moves lately with Glissade (cloyingly sweet) and Tumbler (I’ve never met a more boring beer), but Torpedo, Celebration, Bigfoot, and Summerfest have me pouring their beer all year long.

    Did you try their 30th Anniversary releases? Every single one was amazing. Jack & Ken’s ale remains my favorite all time beer. Life & Limb is fantastic. The Ovila series is a great representation of the styles. The beer camp beers are unique and interesting. I think you’re selling them WAY short.

    • November 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

      I forgot about the Jack & Ken series. Those were all really good beers. Still, in general Sierra turns me off, especially when the shelves around here are stocked with Pennsylvania beers that have a bit more swagger to them.

      And Tumbler was boring – I still have a couple from last year frozen in the back of the beer fridge. So uninspired!

  11. Jake_boston
    November 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    Regarding the Sam Adams bombers, I thought their first round released sometime earlier this year (or maybe last) was unimpressive (lots of fruit styles that were too fruity). Sam and Magic Hat were my gateway craft beers in the late 90s, so I do have a fondness for them even though I don’t buy them a lot anymore.

    I did have the opportunity to try their new small batch bombers at a free tasting at their brewery recently (Thanks Jim! Got them through Pintley based on your recommendation).

    These were much better than the first round. Vixen was my favorite – a chocolate chili bock. Sounds crazy but it was great.

    • November 17, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

      I’ll definitely have to check them out. I saw the chili beer and thought it was cool that they were taking risks.

  12. November 17, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    The “Go-to’s” are easy, i.e. Great Lakes, Smuttynose, Lagunitas, Stone, Green Flash, Founders, and a few others. The “No-go’s” require a bit more thought, but I can tell you this, I totally agree with your Brooklyn feelings. Local 1 is my favorite so far, the rest are just ok.

    Great concept by the way!

    • November 17, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

      Thanks, G-LO! Founders is a good go-to, except I forgot about them when making the list! And Brooklyn is vexing – there’s just something so average about their beers…

    • johnking82
      November 17, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

      Ive done Smutty and it was one of the best I’ve been too.

  13. November 17, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    Might the “no-go” beers also be categorized as “boring?” Just curious.

    Link

    • November 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

      touche

    • November 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

      Maybe just a bit too ordinary in most cases, kind of sucky in others…

      • November 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

        Sucky? That sort of goes against what you were suggesting above. I was reading this as the no-go’s were fine, but not exciting enough for your tastes. The ordinary part makes sense and fits with my take on “boring.” Did you read it? I read yours like every day.

        • November 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

          It fits with your take on “boring” beers, but some of the breweries on my no-go list are there because I think their beers are beyond uninspiring – they aren’t very good. Others love them and they still beat macro crap, so it’s only the opinion of one Idiot.

          I’ve stated my feelings about Saranac here in the past, and they made the list not just because their beers aren’t interesting, I find them mildly offensive…

        • November 17, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

          BTW, I do read your stuff, Zac, but I have the attention span of gnat…

        • November 17, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

          Fair enough. I agree with you on all those beers, but as someone above put it, there are exceptions. Saranac is one brewery I have yet to find anything I really enjoy, but my FiL loves it. Otter Creek? I have no idea.

          I figured someone was reading. It’s just that I’ll have the same 3-5 people comment and I’m getting 20-25x’s the page views. Go figure.

        • November 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

          BTW, this post should give me enough top-5 lists for the next month.

        • November 17, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

          Glad I could help! 🙂

        • johnking82
          November 17, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

          I love when Zac shows how dumb Jim is

        • November 17, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

          You make it sound like that’s a difficult thing!

  14. Joe Lehr
    November 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    Go to: Cricket Hill, Lagunitas, Long Trail, Oskar Blues, Sierra Nevada
    No go: Brooklyn, Flying Fish, Sam Adams, Saranac, Smuttynose

    Not that I don’t like anything that the no go breweries have to offer, just that something else usually catches my eye.

    • November 17, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

      I’m with you, Joe, except maybe on Cricket Hill. I know they’re local to us Jersey boys, but everything I’ve had from them has been a mess. Of course it’s been over a year, so maybe they’ve gotten their act together – they were quite new when I last sampled their wares…

  15. November 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    I’m with you on Brooklyn – but I do recommend their Sorachi Ace. Great beer, and different enough that it’s something you should try. In the past, I’ve also only enjoyed their Local #1 (although, there’s nothing wrong with the #2 either). But the Sorachi Ace is good enough, I’m cooking up a homebrew batch of it soon.

    As for Terrapin – they’re on my no-go list. And I think I finally figured out why – I think I don’t care for their yeast. Most of their beers use the same strain, and I think it sort of turns me off for whatever reason. Got me wondering if maybe some of my other go/no-gos were for the same reason…

    Food for thought.

    • November 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

      I think I’ve had the Sorachi – I recall it being citrusy, but I might be mixing it up with something else. Even the much-hyped Black Ops was something that I found to be just okay.

      I’m with you on they yeast. If a brewer uses one you love, you’ll love all of their beers. But if they use one you don’t like, then they’re screwed! All in all, i get bored if a brewer uses the same yeast in every beer. It’s too much of a factor in the taste to not switch it up from time to time.

  16. November 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    Another great post and interesting, yet simple, question. As far as Sierra Nevada is concerned, I understand your predicament, I think. I’m still a fan yet I only buy their more limited seasonals like Southern/Northern Hemisphere Fresh Hop and Celebration Ale. I’m also looking forward to the Spring release of their new Rye IPA. Aside from that and the occasional Torpedo, I don’t go to them too often

    My Go-To List:

    Three Floyds (need a time machine to go to them now)
    Firestone-Walker
    Stone
    Great Lakes
    Bell’s

    No Go-To List:

    Tommyknocker
    Flying Dog (except Gonzo Imperial Porter)
    Clown’s Shoe
    River Horse
    Abita

    I guess I could add 20+ breweries to each list but those are the ones that come to the top of my head right now.

    Cheers!

    @TheAlemonger

    • November 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

      Thanks, Mr. Monger! I enjoy Bell’s too, but can’t get it up here in Northern NJ. Stone was initially on my go-to list as well, but I don’t buy their stuff as much as I used to, so I bumped them. I want to like River Horse (I recall liking their Milk Stout) but just can’t seem to fall in love…

  17. November 17, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    My go-to list:

    Avery
    Ska
    Bristol
    Oskar Blues
    Dry Dock
    Steamworks
    Odell (50/50 go-to/no go)
    Bear Republic
    Green Flash
    Victory

    no go:
    Dogfishhead
    Stone
    Sam Adams
    New Belgium (except for Ranger)
    Wynkoop (much prefer going into the bar and having something they don’t bottle/can)
    Flying Dog
    Sierra Nevada

    It’s funny how making this list I realized there are some beers that used to be on my go-to list nearly 20 years ago, like Wynkoop and Flying Dog, that don’t interest me anymore. FD because they have steadily gone downhill, and Wynkoop because time and taste have left them behind.

    • November 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

      I think these lists are something that change every couple of years, as new breweries emerge, today’s breweries stagnate, and the old guys reinvent themselves. That’s one of the reason being a craft beer fan is fun – the landscape is constantly changing.

    • November 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

      Why is Stone on your no-go list?

      • November 17, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

        Because every beer I have had from them, while good, just doesn’t live up to the hype for me, and I’d rather spend that money on something I haven’t tried before. Whereas with Dogfishhead, I want to like their beer because I like what Sam does for craft beer, but I just can’t stand the taste of nearly everything they’ve brewed. 😉

        Your list reminded me that some of Lagunita’s and Left Hand could be on my go-to list as well.

  18. Chris
    November 17, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    go to:
    Founders
    Stone
    Sierra Nevada
    Schlafly (seasonals)
    Boulevard (Smokestack Series)

    no go:
    Abita
    Schlafly (year rounds)
    Boulevard (year rounds)
    Rogue
    Shiner

    • November 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

      I agree about the seasonals and year round beers in general. I’m not sure if I’ve had a Southern Tier year round beer, but they made my go-to list with their Blackwater series. Maybe it’s time to try their every day stuff…

  19. November 17, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    I can usually find something somewhere. I mean, it’s beer. What’s not to like? Given my druthers, I’m a west coast pale and west coast IPA guy.

    Go to: Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Bridgeport, Lagunitas, Flying Dog
    No go: Dogfish, Widmer, and, um, the EPA?

    • November 17, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

      I hear the EPA tastes awful…Not IRS bad or bitter like the DHS, but still pretty putrid.

      • November 17, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

        Everything that DHS does is foul. My wife and I just drove across the USA and were thankful every day we awoke to know that we didn’t have to deal with the TSA Shuffle-a-no-go to go where we wanted to go.

      • Matthew
        November 17, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

        At least it doesn’t leave you feeling cheap and violated like the TSA does.

  20. November 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    Now if I’m at a specialty shop, I have never gone wrong with Founders, Stone, Left Hand, Great Divide, Lagunitas, or Hoppin’ Frog.

    I wouldn’t say there is any brewery I stay away from. Though, I tend to buy Sam Adams only as sampler packs.

    • November 17, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

      Those are good choices, except I haven’t had an “a-ha!” beer from Left Hand yet (everything Ive had is good, just not mind bending) and I liked Lagunitas until I figured out that their beers have a very slight bubblegum flavor and now that’s all I taste. It’s like drinking Hubba Bubba!

      • November 18, 2011 at 10:55 am #

        Jim,

        Have you tried Left Hand’s new Nitro Milk Stout in a bottle? They’re the first American brewery to figure out how to get all of that creamy-inducing nitrogen in a bottle, and I must say it’s pretty good, this coming from a guy who only has a few stouts a year. My wife is both a stout and nitro head, and she loves it.

        But I agree that a lot of their beers are hit or miss. I do like 400 lb Monkey on occasion.

        • November 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

          I haven’t tried it, but might look for it. Nitro in a bottle sounds pretty tempting. I’ve had The Stranger (and me and that beer will stay on those terms, thank you) and maybe a slightly watery pale ale – Sawtooth? Anyway, forgettable brews, but I’m a “big beer” line kind of guy anyway, so I haven’t written them off. Thanks for the tip.

  21. Jeff
    November 17, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    Go-to: Victory, Three Floyds (when I find myself in Indiana…I’ll be living about 10 minutes from the brewery in a hair over 4 months), Mikkeller (when I have a few bucks to spare), Sierra Nevada, Clown Shoes

    No-go: Sam Adams, Dogfish Head (used to be my favorite…but their prices are a turnoff…and I find myself drifting farther and farther away from them…though I’ll still pick up something on occasion), Southern Tier (have yet to like anything…and Cuvee 3 just straight up pissed me off)

    • November 17, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

      I love how everyone’s list is a little different and lots of folks swap between “go-to” and “no-go” with a lot of breweries.

  22. Wayne
    November 17, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    The Go-to’s, are pretty easy: New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Guinness, Wild Goose (no longer available), Backfin (no longer available), those Southern Tier that I’ve tasted (limited). Also, based on the draft Goose Island Harvest Ale (ESB), I had today, I might include them on my list. (Gee I hope Busch* continues to leave them alone to do their thing.)

    My No-Go list is very short: DuClaws–just don’t like their beer. Except for them I really don’t have any hard and fast taboos, although I seldom Go-To:
    DFH (usually too high an abv for my tastes),
    Flying Dog (except for their Gonzo Imperial Porter)
    Sam Adams (their are just so many other new beers to try)
    Sierra Nevada (don’t know why as I do tend to like their beers)

    All that having been said, all bets are off if its something on draft, which just seems to change the equation for me. I think it may in part be a difference in atmosphere, i.e., a lone bottle of beer w/ dinner vs. a social situation where I’m meeting new people while tasting a variety of new brews and becoming acquainted with some old ones.

    (*The owner of our local waterin-hole told me that he discontinued Bud draft for 2 reasons: 1) its popularity was way off; and 2) the craft beers were actually cheaper to serve on draft than Bud was! Imagine that!)

    • November 17, 2011 at 7:24 pm #

      I agree that on draft is a seperate discussion. Sierra Nevada is on my no-go list, but I’m usually thrilled to find out a place has them on tap instead of the usual suspects.

  23. FatCatKC
    November 17, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    Go-To: Anything new really.

    This post made me realize how OCD I am with my beer selection. I hardly ever buy the same beer more than once in a year/season which makes it difficult for me to claim a go-to brewery. The only beer I can recall purchasing several times in a short time frame was Freestate Octoberfest. Of course that could be because I was drinking them 3 at a time out of my 1 liter mug. It amazes me how many craft brew choices we have. I buy a lot of beer and still don’t even come close to trying everything available at the liquor store. Awesome!

    • FatCatKC
      November 17, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

      Wait, OCD is probably the wrong reference. ADD is probably more fitting.

  24. Greg H
    November 17, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    My no-go list is long, pretty much anything I’ve purchased in the last year I won’t purchase again. There is so much beer to try and since I home brew, I have my own too. An absolute Go-to is Heady Topper from the Alchemist in VT. Incredible. I also always get a case of Rock Art when I get to VT. I used to love Magic Hat, but I’ve pretty much outgrown them. Sam Adams, Brooklyn and Saranac definitely on my No-Go list.

  25. November 18, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    This is a good topic. Here are my answers and why

    Go-To:
    – Sierra Nevada. They embody what I think of as craft beer. Their standard line-up is solid (Torpedo is my go-to IPA) and their specials/seasonals are all great as well. Plus there is no brewery that is more consistent from batch to batch than SN. Awesome company.
    – Great Lakes. Like everything they do and Edmund Fitzgerald is my favorite porter. Not on the same level as SN, but a great brewery.
    – Three Floyds- I know they don’t bottle date (annoying) and they are a bit expensive, but I’ve never had a beer from them I don’t like. If only I could drink Zombie Dust year round…

    No-Go:
    – Rogue. I like the Shakespeare Stout and that’s it. Every other beer I’ve tried from them (about ten now) I’m not a fan of. No chance they get any money from me.
    – Southern Tier. Seem to lack consistency and I’ve never found a beer of theirs I really enjoy.
    – Brooklyn. I love Black Chocolate Stout but wouldn’t pay to drink anything else they’ve made.

    • November 18, 2011 at 8:46 am #

      And I almost forgot Founders as one of my go-to’s. Another great brewery with beers I enjoy year round.

      • November 18, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

        That’s alright, I forgot them too!

    • November 18, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

      All solid for sure. I’m not sure if I’ve really done Great Lakes before, but they’ve come up here a couple of times. Guess I’d better keep an eye out for them.

      • November 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

        I don’t do their pale ale or IPA too often, but their porter, vienna lager, dortmunder, and imperial stout are all amazing and the barrel-aged blackout stout (if you can find one) is one of the better BA impy stouts I’ve ever had.

  26. November 18, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    Go To:

    Schlafly
    New Belgium
    Goose Island
    Victory
    Jolly Pumpkin
    Flying Dog
    Flossmoor Station

    No Go:

    Anderson Valley
    Big Sky
    Tommyknocker
    Boulevard

    • November 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

      I’m guessing your near St. Louis?

  27. Jeff
    November 18, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    Oh…gotta add Allagash to my go-to list…they can do no wrong.

    • November 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

      But they could charge a little less…

      • Jeff
        November 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

        True enough…but their 750ml stuff is ridiculously great.

        • November 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

          I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not $15.99 good is all, so I usually steer clear. I’ve appreciated everything I’ve had from them, but they’ve never knocked my socks off, which isn’t what they’re wired to do anyway.

  28. Mark S.
    November 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    A bit late to the party – kept getting interrupted by work!

    Go To:
    Founders, North Coast, Stone, Avery (thanks to this blog), Oskar Blues (ditto), Lagunitas, Weyerbacher, Fegley’s (Behtlehem Brew Works), Victory

    Will Take A Chance On:
    Sam Adams (esp. the new bombers and 4-packs), Saranac, Schafly’s, Magic Hat, Terrapin, anything from California

    No Go:
    Anchor, Sierra Nevada, Long Trail, Otter Creek, Yeungling, Brooklyn (basically the microbrews I cut my teeth on back in the 1990’s)

    Eagerly Awaiting:
    New Belgium

    • November 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

      You’ve just given me an idea for another post: High-risk/reward breweries. thanks!

  29. Jonathon
    November 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    Great article!

    Go To: 10 barrel, Boneyard, GoodLife, BBC, Deschutes, Silver Moon, PowerHouse, Lagunitas.

    No Go: Sam Adams, Shiner, Pyramid, Red Hook, Alaskan.

  30. November 18, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    Well, since I don’t live in the country anymore, my real time list is this:

    Go To: Costa Rica’s Craft Brewing Co
    No Go: Cerveceria de Costa Rica (Famous for Imperial)

    but since this list is boring and no one can relate to it here is my real list:

    Go To: Russian River, Great Divide, Deschutes, Firestone Walker, Jolly Pumpkin, DFH, Uinta Brewing(first craft beer I ever had was a Uinta)
    No Go: Goose Island, Abita, Rogue, New Belgium, Brooklyn Brewery, Pyramid, Widmer

    If I could get it in LA I would have Bells and Founders on the go to as well. I’ve yet to have anything from New Glarus or Three Floyd’s, which I am quite depressed about

    Jim, I completely agree with you on Brooklyn. Their beer is so blah, no flavor. What’s up with New Jersey? You don’t have a go to in Jersey?

  31. November 19, 2011 at 4:01 am #

    My region (northeast Louisiana) is still stuck in the microbrewery dark ages (i.e. the 1980’s). The only American microbreweries available here are Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Rogue, Bear Republic, Abita, Flying Dog, Wasatch and Squatters. Fortunately, the liquor store I work at just got a decent import hook-up, so here’s my list:

    Go To: Sierra Nevada, Fuller’s, Flying Dog, Mikkeller, St. Feuillien, Struise and Guinness (it was the first “real” beer I had).

    No Go: Abita, Wasatch, Squatters, Sam Adams, Heineken, Newcastle and anything that comes in a 30-pack.

    • November 19, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

      Have you tried Bayou Teche? The wife and I have been coming down to New Orleans every April for the past 7 years and last year I discovered BT, they’re pretty good. NOLA Brewing isn’t too bad either.

  32. Zac
    November 19, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    Really good topic! I had never thought of it before but I have a go-to and no-go list as well it turns out. I think it is in my deep subconscious. I used to live in northern California which had a great selection of breweries and I became very spoiled! Eel River, Six Rivers, Mendocino, Ukiah, Mad River and not too distant Oregon breweries of Deschutes and Caldera were always Go-to’s. Yep, spoiled rotten I was. I will forever be a Lost Coast Brewery fan with their Indica IPA as my favorite though.
    Now I live in southern Ohio and the selection is not so great. But I am very fortunate that Great Lakes is available and is almost my exclusive Go-to beer now. Really great brewery. As close as I am to Cincinnati, their beers are just making it this way. Typically the only California beer I can get is Sierra Nevada, and I pick that up from time to time as I can count on it being satisfying. New Belgium beers are readily available but try as I might their beers just don’t taste good to me. And it’s sold everywhere!

  33. December 8, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    I live in Michigan, and we have plenty of great go-to breweries (Founders, Dark Horse, Short’s,Bell’s, Jolly Pumpkin) in our own right, but here’s my list of stuff we don’t get here. My would-be go-to breweries:

    Surly
    O’Dell
    Deschutte
    Smuttynose
    Three Floyd’s

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  1. Tis the Season ….. Kinda « lyricslibationsandlife - December 9, 2011

    […] have a ton of experience with the beers in the Schlafly line-up, but I am very aware that this is a go-to brewer for a lot of different lovers of beer. Therefore, it definitely took up residence in the first […]

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