Best American "Craft" Beers

Ray Isle, Wine Editor from Food & Wine Magazine, introduces "Saturday Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill to 5 great American craft beers for your July 4th celebration. (Kids: Don't try this at home!) CBS

Americans will buy an estimated 24 million cases of beer this holiday weekend, the biggest of the year for a $100 billion industry, according to The Beer Institute, a brewers' trade group.

And The Brewers Association, another industry group, says the fastest-growing segment in the United States market is craft beer.

It might be less familiar to you, because craft beers are made by small, independent brewers throughout the U.S. But they're delicious, and you may just want to impress your friends or try something new this holiday weekend at your picnic or barbecue.

Food & Wine magazine's Wine Editor Ray Isle cracked open his five favorite American-made craft beers on "The Early Show Saturday Edition."

A beverage is considered a craft beer if 2 million barrels or fewer are sold per year, and if they're made by independent breweries, not conglomerates.

Isle not only introduced viewers to his slections, but also their perfect holiday food pairings.

The types: lager, pilsner, kellerweiss (w/lemon), ale and porter.

There are, says Isle, more than 1,500 breweries in America and, thanks to the craft brewing boom, that number keeps increasing every year. So, there's never been a better time to drink American beer — especially appropriate on Independence Day:

His picks:

Sam Adams Boston Lager - apprx. $10.00 per six pack

If there's one beer that's appropriate for July 4, it's Sam Adams Boston Lager. The company is still owned by its founders, the beer is terrific, and it's even got one of our nation's founding fathers on the label.

Lager Beer: One of the two main beer styles (the other is ale). Most beer in the U.S. is lager (Bud, Coors, Miller, etc.).

Description: Smooth & Refreshing

Foods: Hot dogs and hamburgers; grilled chicken


Victory Prima Pils - apprx. $10.00 per six pack

A great Pilsner, which means a great summertime beer, from a terrific brewery in Pennsylvania. This is lightly malty, lightly hoppy, and just fantastic when the weather is hot.

Pilsner Beer is a type of lager, originally from Czechslovakia. Pilsners are a little lighter and zingier.

Description: Crisp & Herbal

Foods: Tacos, Salsa, anything spicy


Sierra Nevada Kellerweis - apprx. $9.50 per six pack

Sierra Nevada is one of the largest craft breweries in the country; because wheat beers are so popular right now, they just added this beer as one of their main year-round offerings.

Wheat Beer: Wheat beers are made with wheat in addition to malted barley. They're fruity and spicy, and very refreshing - great served with a slice of lemon.

Description: Light & Citrusy

Foods: Grilled salmon, tuna, shrimp or veggies


Fat Tire Amber Ale - apprx. $9.00 per six pack

This is an amber ale from Colorado, really dark and luscious, with caramel and toast notes. It's my go-to barbecue wine - anything with barbecue sauce tastes great with it.

Amber Ale: Ales are the other main category of beer. They tend to be richer and more full-bodied than lagers.

Description: Rich & Toasty

Foods: Barbecue/ribs


Anchor Porter - apprx. $11.00 per six pack

This style of beer gets its name from the men who used to work on the London river docks, so it's appropriate that the best American version around, from Anchor Steam brewery, is from another port town, San Francisco.

Porter Beer: Porters are dark ales, but not heavy - the color comes from the darkly roasted barley malt - so they're still delicious in summer.

Description: Smoky & Intense

Foods: Grilled sausages
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