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Muffin Top Breweries

Mashing In
Hogshead Brewery
Hogshead Brewery of Denver, Colorado

When Jay Goodwin left The Bruery to open The Rare Barrel, an all-sour beer brewery in Berkeley, California, one of his co-workers, Carl Katz, joked that he was opening a “muffin top brewery.” This reference to the 155th episode of Seinfeld in which Elaine helps open a bakery that only serves muffin tops was an analogy for the specialized nature of Goodwin’s new brewery.

 The Rare BarrelThe Rare Barrel is like a lot of niche breweries opening in the United States— instead of producing a wide variety of beer styles, it’s focused on one style of beer and one style only. “It’s what we live, what we breathe, what we drink every day,” said Goodwin. “It’s always sour beer.”

 Since The Rare Barrel’s opening in 2013, Goodwin has made a name for himself as one of the country’s most prominent sour beer experts. His beers, such as Ensorcelled (a dark sour ale aged in oak barrels with raspberries) and Cosmic Dust (a golden sour ale aged in oak barrels with hibiscus), are quickly gaining notoriety for placement at competitions like World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival. The unpredictability of the wild yeasts and bacteria that The Rare Barrel is using to sour beers further ratifies this Seinfeld analogy. A muffin top, said Elaine in the episode, “is where the muffin breaks free of the pan and does its own thing.”

 Elaine and Katz at The Bruery might qualify these other niche breweries as muffin top breweries, too.

 Hogshead Brewery

Denver, Colorado’s Hogshead Brewery, named after the vessels that serve English-style ale, is well known around town for its Lake Lightning English Pale Ale and Chin Wag ESB, among other British-style ales that are often served on cask at the brewery."After three Chin Wags your chin starts moving. You start loosening up and start talking shite," said Hogshead co-owner Mike Manczur. "It's a happy beer; it makes you want to talk," he added.

 That’s the goal at Hogshead— beers brewed to make you linger. “This is a place where people can come have a proper pint, and meet someone in the neighborhood,” said head brewer Stephen Kirby. “We want people to interact.”

 Kansas City Bier Company

The slogan at this Missouri brewing company is “We put the i back in beer.” From the unfiltered ales and lagers on draft to the tasting room tables imported from Hofbräuhaus brewery in Munich, everything at this brewing company is crafted in German tradition. Kansas City Bier Company founders Steve Holle and Juergen Hager brew all of their beers with European malts and hops, and ferment them with yeast strains from a monastery brewery in southern Germany.

 Logsdon Farmhouse Ales

Logsdon Farmhouse AlesThis brewery in Hood River, Oregon is owned by Wyeast Laboratories, Inc. founder David Logsdon who has a special affinity for traditional Belgian-style farmhouse ales. When he opened Logsdon Farmhouse Ales he also planted an orchard on his property with Belgium-imported Schaerbeekse trees that yield the sour cherries necessary to craft authentic Kriek beers. The trees are growing nicely and in the meantime Logsdon is crafting the award-winning Seizoen Bretta, a Brett saison, and Peche 'n Brett, a Brett saison brewed with local peaches.

 What’s your favorite niche brewery? Let us know in the comments section below.