It seems logical that brewers would make beer at their own breweries. Right? Well, not always. In the past few years, the growing “gypsy” movement in craft beer is encompassing ever more creative brewers who don’t have a domestic base to call their own.
The term gypsy brewery comes from the fact that these professionals are itinerant. They wander from one space to the next, taking advantage of brewing facilities that have extra space or aren’t currently in use, to produce their own beer. It’s the perfect way to keep costs down, and makes for delicious, one-off brews and collaborations that beer geeks can’t get enough of. Though you may not catch them in person, look out for beers made by these five top gypsy breweries.
Danish brewer Mikkel Borg-Bjergsø, owner of acclaimed brewery Mikkeller, is credited as being among the first to popularize gypsy brewing, but it was his twin brother Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, also a brewer, who helped grow the phenomenon in the U.S. Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Brooklyn, though it brews around the world, Evil Twin makes limited edition beers that use ingredients like yuzu and cherry. The weirdest? The Spicy Nachos pale ale that, you guessed it…tastes like nachos.
Though they wander less than some of the other gypsy breweries on our list, Clown Shoes, which brews at facilities owned by another brewery in Massachusetts, is a rising star on the craft beer scene. Founded just three years ago, they’ve made brews as diverse as Clementine Witbier (perfect for summer) and a hybrid Belgian-style Tripel IPA.
Run by head brewer Brian Strumke, Stillwater has brought its roving operation across the U.S., and even as far as Belgium. Temporarily taking over excess spaces in like-minded breweries throughout the country, they’ve long flown the gypsy brewing flag.
Describing themselves as “an idea, not a brewery,” the small-scale Pretty Things, which brews in facilities located in Westport, Mass., manages to translate the conceptual into the sudsy and delicious. The gypsies brew three year-round beers plus a number of seasonal styles.
The newest brewery on our list, the Portland-based Awesome Ales was founded just last year by David Lederfine, former owner of the city’s Snake & Weasel brewpub. Though Portland, Ore. is a beer lover’s town, Awesome Ales is one of the first gypsy offerings in the city. And despite its recent launch, it’s already produced several delectable ales – from French farmhouse-style pale ale to an American strong ale.
Header image: Feature © Steven Guzzardi
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