Steve Beaumont wrote:BTW, any comments on my picks for Canada, the U.S. and Latin America? (Australasia and Europe coming up.)
The only one I can really comment on is the US, becuase I don't see enough of the great breweries in BC or in other continents.
While I have the utmost respect for Stone as one of the true pioneers in the craft beer scene and I regularly purchase their beer when I am stateside, I think that was a very safe pick and I am not sure what they have done specifially in 2011 to warrant your award.
If I had to pick, I would probably decide on one of these:
Dogfish Head - Although another "safe" pick, they really boomed in 2011 (in large part because of the brewmasters shows). They Sony music collaboration beers (Bitches Brew, Hell Hound and Pearl Jam Twenty) were a really cool and innovative venture. I consider DFH and Stone to be two leaders of the craft beer scene statside (along with Sierra Nevada)and I just feel that DFH did more interesting things than Stone in 2011.
The Bruery - these guys impress me more and more every day. They continually produce excellent beer across almost every style. Their Reserve Society was a really cool idea and is only growing. They have done a number of colloboration beers and have also brewed and bottled homebrew contest winning beers. They have an excellent barrel aging program and are getting their great beer out to more and more markets.
Founders - find me a bad, or even average beer that these guys bottle? They are the definition of quality and consistencey IMO. Their recent expansion has also been huge as it has not only allowed them to enter some new markets but, more importantly, it has allowed them to start bottling some of their more coveted formerly brewery-only beers (CBS, Blushing Monk, Kaiser). Most of their seasonal releases are highly sought after and traded within the community (Double Trouble, Devil Dancer, Imperial Stout, Breakfast Stout, Backwoods Bastard) and their regular offerings are all top-notch. My favourite brewery, hands down.
I could probably list 2 or 3 more very easily. It is actually quite difficult to evaluate American breweries in the same light as their Ontario and Canadian couterparts because they are so much more mature, making the criteria completely different.