Author: Malin Norman

Moving from the sunny west in our recent USA feature, we’re turning our gaze right across the country; to the East Coast, which is also home to the hazy, juicy New England IPA. But there is more to discover, as we find out from a local expert.

The East Coast of the USA has plenty to explore. From the birthplace of America’s oldest brewery Yuengling in Philadelphia, to the craft beer pioneers Brooklyn Brewery in New York with its dynamic brewmaster Garrett Oliver and incredibly popular taproom, to some more recent hazy players.

Beer geeks will certainly know of The Alchemist, creator of hop-bomb Heady Topper, which is considered one of the best IPAs in the world, as well as Trillium Brewing Company, a New England Farmhouse-inspired brewery described by some as “the future of brewing”. And the mega hyped Tree House Brewing, located in the middle of nowhere, has people queueing for hours to buy their much sought-after beers.

To hear a bit more about this region, we had a chat with experienced beer writer John Holl. Based on the East Coast, John is the co-founder and editor of Beer Edge, a newsletter for beer professionals, a podcast host and author of several books including The American Craft Beer Cookbook. 

What is the East Coast beer scene like?

In the last few years, people have been looking for new, rare and local. “What can I drink today that I wasn’t able to drink yesterday and might not have tomorrow? Where are my dollars going, who am I supporting?” 

This attitude has supported a lot of local breweries, and we have seen many small and nimble breweries with less than 1,000 barrels per year. Experimentation has also been big and whilst breweries have been honing their craft, they have also been trying to push the boundaries.

What is happening over there at the moment?

With the coronavirus pandemic, everything has changed with bars and restaurants closed, and growth is pretty much on hold. However, breweries are considered essential businesses and can continue brewing. 

In these uncertain times, beer has become almost like comfort food and it seems that consumers are returning to familiar big brands and traditional beer styles in bulk.

Can you recommend some exciting East Coast breweries worth checking out?

Notch Brewing (in Salem, Massachusetts) because they make traditional lager that is converting a generation of IPA drinkers to bottom-fermented goodness.

Carton Brewing (in Atlantic Highlands, NJ) because of their experimentation and deft use of culinary ingredients.

Fifth Hammer Brewing (in Long Island City, NYC) because they capture the spirit of New York City and have owners that continue to honour their homebrewing roots.

J. Wakefield Brewing Company (in Miami) because they are experimenting with fruit fermentation with exceptional results.

For some interesting conversations with brewers and beer experts, check out John’s weekly podcast Drink Beer, Think Beer. For instance, listen to the chat with Augie Carton, co-founder of Carton Brewing, one of the recommended breweries above.

Pictures: Brooklyn Brewery, Trillium Brewing Company, Fifth Hammer Brewing, Notch Brewing, J. Wakefield Brewing