How does a craft brewery differ from a micro-brewery?  Thirty years ago I watched a documentary about a beer company called Anchor Steam.  Based out of San Francisco.  It was saved from closing by “Fritz” Maytag, heir to the washing machine fortune.  He sold his appliance shares, bought the brewery, and became the first really popular challenger to the major players brewing bland beer.  A few years after watching the film, I did a television story about a brand named Saranac.  It replaced a rancid regional beer named Utica Club.

Young people started experimenting and came up with unique blends

From the 1990s onward, something people thought impossible happened.  The insurgents took down the big players.

But it wasn’t just re-branding local beers.  Young people started experimenting and came up with unique blends.  You could walk into a tavern and choose from 50 to 60 beers for washing down lunch.  Idaho has several of these options and some are so unique you can only find them in the restaurant the brands call home.

While I don’t go to many of these places at my age, I was disappointed to see Idaho so poorly represented on a list published at USA Today.  It ranks what are called the nation’s most successful craft breweries.  Some long predate the craft revolution of recent decades.  Yuengling, which tops the list was founded during Andrew Jackson’s first term as President.  It’s still in the hands of the same family as the founder.  The name is German.

Many of the names on this year’s list are trendy.  I believe the people behind the rankings don’t pay many visits to Idaho, although.  It would appear the rankings are based more on sales than taste.

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