Beautiful beer gardens, innovative techniques, and award-winning brews.
Published on 22/09/2021 at 08:00 PM
We live in a golden age of craft brewing, one where more than 8,000 breweries are currently pouring everything from buzzy hazy and milkshake IPAs to traditional Belgian fare, stouts, lagers, and everything in between. Usually with punny names. Because craft beer’s gonna craft beer.
The 34 breweries on this list range from old-school favorites making new waves to up-and-comers offering destination-worthy pours. They also reflect the innovation and adaptability that brewers have had to exercise in response to pandemic regulations. As chosen by our own boozy supergroup of beer minds, they’re the hottest breweries in America right now. Oh, and be sure to circle back soon, because this list will update as often as a tap list.
Monterey, California In an alternate reality, John Steinbeck would be having beers with Madeline Martha Mackenzie at Alvarado Street Brewery. The Nobel Prize-winning giant of American letters would probably be more inclined to share a drink with a blue collar everyman than Resse Witherspoon’s upper-class elite helicopter parent from Big Little Lies, even though they both call Monterey home. But one thing they could agree upon is a Mai Tai, and I don’t mean the tropical cocktail but the single-hop and single-malt tropical Mai Tai P.A. from here. Over recent years it’s racked up more GABF medals than just about any other IPA in the last decade. The downtrodden working man and a wealthy alpha female can find common ground over world-class social lubricants at any of three Alvarado Street Brewery locations in the county.
Denver, Colorado Have you ever found yourself just dying for that first sip of beer after a long day only to find the line to the bar to be agonizingly slow? What if once you finally bellied up to order, the beer took a painfully long six minutes just to pour? At Bierstadt Lagerhaus that’s a feature, not a bug. Served in the traditional Czech slow pour style out of side pull faucets and brewed on an all copper 1932 German-made brewhaus, these beers are worth the wait. Brewmaster Ashleigh Carter knows that truly great lagers require patience, lager means to cellar, and though these beers are deceptively simple the process is decidedly not. But good things come to those who wait, and by the time that glass of Slow Pour Pils, Helles, or Dunkel hits your lips it will be better than you ever imagined.
Portland, Maine Forget all those comments about Portland being the new “hot food and brewing” town: New Englanders have known this to be true for the better part of two decades by now. And it’s thanks in part to white-hot breweries like Bissell Bros that it’s reputation continues to grow with every can release that rolls out of their fermenters. Seeing that it’s peak tourist season in Vacationland, the taproom is in full swing with fresh can drops of crowd favorites like the Substance, a super juicy NEIPA, and Precept, a crisp German-style pilsner. Most of all, it’s easiest to revel in the fact that the hype around this place isn’t just relegated to haze-craze fanatics looking for a juicy one-off release.
Albuquerque, New Mexico This brewery on the banks of the Rio Grande is staunchly standing up for the New Mexico craft brewing scene, like some sort of beer-drenched John Ford western. Boxing Bear brought the cavalry out for a recent run of gold medal-winning beers, including its Featherweight Session IPA at the 2018 North American Beer Awards and another gold earlier in the year for its Chocolate Milk Stout at the prestigious World Beer Cup. We hear a sequel to Rio Grande is in the works where a digitally resurrected (but still past his prime) John Wayne will take on a Boxing Bear voiced by Kevin Hart and played by Glenn Ennis, reprising his role as the bear from The Revenant. Well, probably not. But at least the beer will continue to be great.
Grand Rapids, Michigan With Grand Rapids consistently regarded as one of the best beer cities in the country, City Built CEO Edwin Collazo and team have done a stellar job making their name known. With a knack for captivating the eye thanks to award-winning can labels including a recent national winner, Prague Underground, Collazo makes sure the beer warrants the same accolades. From imperial stouts to IPAs, sours, and pilsners, the beers showcase the brewery’s inventiveness using an array of spices, exotic fruit, and other adjuncts the right way: balanced and simply delicious. Since 2017, City Built aligns its lauded core lineup with brewery collaborations and paying homage to rap duo Run The Jewels with a recent “Look Ma! No Hands” double dry-hopped IPA to keep things fresh. To give this brewery a welcomed edge, Collazo’s Puerto Rican heritage is demonstrated through authentic cuisine served inside the buoyant taproom. Acclaimed brews. Dope art. Solid merch. Slamming eats. Plans to triple capacity in 2022. Yep, City Built is simply the shit.
Seattle, Washington Cloudburst co-founder/brewer Steve Luke was a brewer at Elysian Brewing and his mentor, Dick Cantwell, literally wrote the book on Eclectic IPA, and the pair just happened to be on the brew deck working on a collaboration when Cloudburst Brewing was named one of the Breweries of the Year at the prestigious 2021 Great American Beer Festival. In their six years of existence, Cloudburst Brewing has become known for mastery of cloudy beers, but as great as their wizardry with hops is, they pulled off a parting of the clouds to win bronze and silver for clear lagers.
Chicago, Illinois Dovetail’s ability to turn classic European-style lagers into some of the most celebrated beers in the country is a testament to two of the brewery’s strengths: a proficiency at brewing delicious lagers across a range of styles, and a welcoming attitude that encourages even beer newbies to join the party. It’s the rare brewery in 2021 that not only makes beer-flavored beer, but makes it fun. Some beers in Dovetail’s lineup are destined to become fridge staples-a Helles, a kolsch, a hefeweizen-while others expand lager lovers’ palates into perhaps unfamiliar territory. Grodziskie or rauchbier, anyone?
Batavia, Illinois More than 40 miles west of Chicago, Energy City has been steadily making a national name for itself since opening its doors as a one-barrel brewery in 2017. From those humble roots, former home brewer David Files and his wife and brewery co-owner, Heidi Files, have had to grow to keep up with intense demand for the brewery’s hazy double IPAs, smoothie hard seltzers, and Bistro line of food-flavored berliner weisses. The latter encompasses everything from Pumpkin Cobbler to Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich to Blueberry Pancakes. Within just a year, Energy City was brewing its beer at other, larger breweries in Illinois and Indiana, and it’s still hardly able to get its beer to all the fans who want it.
Charleston, South Carolina Edmund’s Oast might have replaced Charleston’s best beer store, Charleston Beer Exchange, but it replaced it in style. Edmund’s Oast is a posh combo of mixology, gourmet dining, and taphouse with 48 taps ciders, wines, and a wide range of inventive ales and lagers brewed from a five-barrel capacity on site coupled with respected craft breweries nationwide. (The Peanut Butter & Jelly ale is a local favorite that frequents their casks as well.) Outside this 6,000-square-foot warehouse-turned-fancy-fortress, there’s a lavish pavilion in the spacious courtyard shared with other businesses. The Oast empire has since flexed serious muscle in 2017 erecting two more operations: the reawakened, two-story Edmund’s Past Exchange bottle shop adjacent to the restaurant and a 20,000-square foot brewery filling glasses with solely house brews from its 30-barrel system, plus sake and spirits. These cats are no joke.
Morganton and Nebo, North Carolina Let’s keep it 100: When there is word of expansion from your favorite local brewery, there is certainly concern things will become, shall we say, compromised? Not the case with North Carolina’s beloved Fonta Flora. Putting Morganton-Asheville’s little brother an hour’s drive away-on the state’s loaded brewery map with their mostly European-inspired creations, it now has a tranquil Whippoorwill Farm addition in nearby Nebo. The applauded series of Lake James adjunct-corn lagers the in-house coolship, aging legion of bourbon barrel-aged stouts, and new canning line further justify Double F is certainly hot. (Addressing the cans, the packaging is consistently captivating thanks to former classmates of brewer and co-owner Todd Boera’s Warren Wilson College alma mater.) Fonta’s distribution continues to grow with currently Georgia, the Carolinas, and Cali beer lovers fiending for its latest creations. Now that’s fuego.
Portland, Oregon Nerds have been voraciously playing a new mobile app where they take on the persona of a lumberjack character named Victoria Lane to scale trees, unlock woodland creatures, and win points for perks and rewards hoping to get to the elusive Timberbeast. No, we aren’t talking about the latest Pokemon game, this is the new Great Notion App that gamifies beer geekdom with digital merit badges earned by interacting with the brand and ordering beer shipments to your door. This is all a delivery mechanism for world-class, NE-style hazy IPAs that helped bring that style to the forefront of popularity to begin with, and since then the brewery has staked a claim over culinary inspired dessert beers and sours with maple syrup, pineapple, marshmallows, peanut butter, and blueberries. We will trade you a timberbeast for that double-stuffed oreo cookie milkshake Imperial Stout.
St. Petersburg, Florida Already kicking ass with its world class Sunshine IPA since 2013, Green Bench’s brewing genius Khris Johnson runs this space with a beautiful courtyard separating the original headquarters, which now boasts a state-of-the-art tap room, barrel-aging space, additional foeders, and the ability to increase production three-times the former rate. This swanky addition to the family is christened Webb’s Cellar Room, and its Peach Alice sour was arguably one of our most favorite in that style. Green Bench continues to steadily stay ablaze with numerous brewery collaborations and surrounding St. Pete construction to make them even more the shit for years to come.
Brooklyn, New York Despite the uncertainty that plagued the brewing world through the pandemic, Joe and Lauren Grimm and their team have managed to take what was already an impressive lineup of IPAs, sours, and esoteric takes on classic beers and grow it exponentially. Today, you’re just as likely to see world-class schwarzbier, hefeweizen, or pilsner roll out of the brewery. Grimm also helped an already adored and famous brewery expand its fan base at an enviable pace and made its cans a coveted pick-up wherever they’re available-especially as even more impressive releases roll out.
Atlanta, Georgia The ears of hip-hop heads will immediately perk up at the mention of this brewery’s name, but Halfway Crooks is more than a crafty reference to the classic Mobb Deep banger “Shook Ones.” Founders Shawn Bainbridge, Joran Van Ginderachter, and Tim Kilic realized their dreams of owning a brewery in July of 2019 with a clever ideology to carve out a successful niche in a steadily booming ATL beer scene: focusing on traditional European lagers and ales (especially Belgian styles, thanks to Ginderachter’s country of origin). Besides stellar brews always topped with pillowy heads to emulate the tap pours from pubs overseas, Halfway proudly geeks out by showcasing its fascination with computers from yesteryear. The taproom is adorned with old-school monitors and floppy disks, while making computer references like the “Ctrl-Alt-Del” German-style altbier, “Decimals” kellerbier, and “Memory” farmhouse Ale re-fermented with peaches. In celebration of weathering the pandemic storm, Halfway has gone all out to host its growing fanbase by accompanying the airy rooftop with a full beer garden in its final stages of development directly across the street.
Ann Arbor, Michigan Michigan beer geeks were already hip to HOMES for its sought-after tart IPAs, heavily fruited sours, and hazy IPAs. But then the brewery blew up the hard seltzer market with a curious new product called Smooj. Launched in summer 2020, Smooj-a loose portmanteau of smoothie and juice-can claim most of the credit for the subsequent smoothie seltzer craze that took hard seltzers from clear and bubbly to creamy and fruit-heavy. HOMES is still kicking out cool beers besides Smooj, of course, and dabbling in styles as disparate as rice lagers, triple IPAs, and imperial cream ales. Lately, it’s been riffing on its popular Cynosure line of sour double IPAs, switching up combinations of fruit, vanilla, lactose, and American and New Zealand hops.
Beacon, New York The amount of good things to happen to Beacon in the past half decade have practically made it synonymous with “quick weekend day trip out of New York City.” These days, along with a pilgrimage to the Dia:Beacon, stopping by Hudson Valley Brewing stands squarely atop the list of things to visit there once you get off the Metro-North. That’s because this small brewery has become one of the hottest non-Brooklyn can release destinations in the Northeast, pumping out hit after hit from their fermenters. Why? HVB could be considered the flipside to the juicy IPA “haze craze,” instead focusing their efforts on innovative sour IPAs that continually push the envelope for the style. Part of the fun of visiting is getting to sample whatever happens to be rolling out that week, but be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the Ikagi Collection, a series of beers produced in collaboration with the Momofuku Culinary Institute that celebrate the five basic elements of taste.
Atlanta, Georgia, Birmingham, Alabama, and Nashville, Tennessee It’s always enjoyable telling the story of how Atlanta-based trio Jonathan Baker, Joel Iverson, and Jeff Heck started brewing and pouring their latest homebrew concoctions for close friends after their Bible study meetings on Monday nights before taking it to the next level. Besides the two locations in Georgia’s capital, Monday opened Social Club, a 10,000-square foot taproom in Birmingham in 2020, and, as a birthday gift to themselves for successfully turning 10 years old, it just gave Nashville some love with another 25-draft taproom in September called Preservation Society. With brewmaster Peter Kiley flexing his liquid mastery with award-winning sours, IPAs, lagers, and decadent stouts to name a few varietals, there’s no telling what the next move is for these enterprising gents. Just know they’re always up to something dope to make every day, including Mondays, feel like the weekend.
Lake Zurich, Illinois True to the trio in its name, this suburban Chicagoland brewery brews the holy trinity of buzzed-about styles: milkshake IPAs, heavily fruited sour ales, and indulgent imperial stouts. What unites the disparate offerings are nostalgic, dessert flavors that evoke childhood treats: Strawberry Chantilly (a milkshake IPA brewed with strawberry puree, lactose, and vanilla), or Double Nectar (a sour ale pineapple, passionfruit, and strawberry). Lately, though, the brewery has been introducing fans to more classic styles-German-style pilsners, West Coast IPAs, and saisons-which are proving no less popular. Keep an eye on Phase Three’s Instagram for collaboration announcements with other new-school breweries including Other Half Brewing, Weldwerks Brewing, and Bottle Logic Brewing.
Sparks, Nevada The hottest thing coming out of the desert since global warming, Revision Brewing is all fired up by hops. After breaking free of a conservancy in California, founder/brewer Jeremy Warren took up a residency near Vegas where he started a campaign to free the hops at Revision Brewing in Sparks. Warren can really make IPAs sing, and his recipes needed no revision after racking up silver and gold medals at the World Beer Cup. It seems like every beer release is now going platinum.
Huntington Beach, California Proof positive that your buddies backyard home-brewing obsession can lead to greater things. Riip Beer Co. has been forcing friends and family to drink their beers out of the back of a 1931 Helms Bakery coach since 2015. But Riip isn’t just local slang for the “stoke” “bitchin” or “rad,” it’s a state of mind, man. And it translates into some pretty “killer!” beer as the name suggests, because, in 2016, it became the smallest brewery to win a GABF medal in the hypercompetitive American IPA category. Riipy parlayed that success into expanded operations in 2017 and has slowly stoked its fanbase from Orange County surfers to OC haze boiz. When brewers aren’t adding bushels of Mosaic hops into West Coast IPAs, then they are tearing into some gnarly imported malts for crispy boy lagers.
Littleton, New Hampshire Many hype breweries have amassed their weekend lineups on the backs of their hazy IPAs, pastry stouts, or over-the-top smoothie-style fruited sours. But every once in a while, beer fans choose to flock to producers taking a more traditional approach. Schilling Beer Company may have been around in 2013, but a relatively recent expansion in distribution has made their “modern European-inspired” beers the talk of the Northeast. Instead of dank hop bombs, the brewery focuses on Old World-style lagers, Belgian-inspired ales, German-style fruited goses, and plenty of farmhouse ales with a nearly impeccable success rate. Even though offshoot brand Resilience gives it the ability to dabble in American styles, Schilling accomplished something truly innovative by looking to the past to develop hallmark offerings.
Rocky Mount, North Carolina The beer industry continues to evolve but inclusion still needs work. Spaceway Brewing owner Briana Brake is making major strides by paying homage to jazz legend Sun Ra with an Afrofuturism approach through artistic expression and brewing innovation. One of Spaceway’s most popular beers is the “Dondada” brandishing a captivating label containing a tasty cardamom stout with notes of orange and a subtle hint of smoke. This paved the way to more portfolio builders including the highly regarded Pirate Jenny DIPA and Agent Seven Cream Ale. With such an overwhelming response and profound message, Spaceway is honoring its thriving following with palate-pleasing art exhibitions, and an upcoming collaboration alongside Run the Jewels and neighboring Black-owned startup Proximity Brewing with the All Due Respect strong ale-it’s brewed with corn and molasses and will be featured during this year’s Blacktoberfest Beer Festival. Just know Spaceway is blowing up and you heard it here first.
St. Louis, Missouri Though owner/brewer Cory King says he’s an old man in brewing terms, demand for his barrel-aged creations is as strong as it was when the brewery became its own self-contained business-a side project no longer. The brewery produces barrel-aged stouts, with a return of the vaunted Beer:Barrel:Time, an adjunct-free bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout. Side Project has even spawned its own offshoot called Shared, an outlet for its brewers to develop new recipes for non-barrel-aged beers.
Comstock Park, Michigan If you’re a fan of wild, fruited, spontaneously fermented, or sour beers, you probably know Denver’s Black Project. One of its earliest employees, Mitch Ermatinger, now has his own (non-Denver) brewery at which he’s turning out beers in the same vein to similarly rave reviews. Speciation’s ales range from tart and acidic to saison-yeast-and-Brett-forward, and about half of them spend some time in the brewery’s foeder. A new, upgraded coolship is set to arrive this summer, allowing even more experimentation with wild microbes, and plans for a taproom are gaining momentum.
Portland, Oregon A mass of beer fans have been gathering at a 110-year-old church for the holy water-only rather than lining up in pews, they are grabbing bar stools. SteepleJack Beer only opened this summer but the all-woman-led brew team and veteran bar staff have been leading a devout following in communion since day one. And who wouldn’t want to enjoy a beer selection as diverse as a cask Mild Ale and a Hazy Pale while seated below a majestic stained glass window casting shards of light onto the hall like a glow from the heavens? No matter if you are not one of the faithful, because everyone can find something earthly to worship at this brewpub before shuffling off this mortal coil.
Hudson, New York Hudson Valley has been a veritable hotbed of breweries for the past decade, but few have been able to pull off Suarez Family Brewery’s levels of success. With a lineup famously devoid of any trend-chasing styles, the brewery has focused on unfiltered German-style lagers, mixed fermentation ales it calls “country beers,” and Crispy Little, which is essentially a lower ABV pale ale since opening in 2016. Since then, releases include the perennially popular Palantine Pils and Bones Shirt black lager, which have endeared them even more to beer fans across the Empire State who are lucky enough to get their hands on a can or a pour. The attention to quality control and perfection of products has all but assured their beers will remain some of the most sought-after in the industry for years to come.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin Third Space has built its reputation on solid ground: well-made, easy-drinking, flavorful beers. Quality is a huge focus for brewmaster Kevin Wright, a graduate of the prestigious University of California-Davis Master Brewing Program, and it’s made consumers confident in Third Space’s beers from day one. The brewery installed a five-barrel pilot system to produce an even greater range of beers for its taproom. As new equipment has meant the brewery can finally start to keep pace with demand, Third Space introduced new can designs, including International Intrigue double IPA; La Cocina dark Mexican lager; and Summer Home hoppy blonde ale.
Exeter, Rhode Island It seems as though there’s no shortage of things for Rhode Island beer lovers to be proud of these days: Tilted Barn, it turns out, is a place that can give them more than one. Ambitiously starting as a hop-growing operation on a cofounder’s family farm, Matt and Kara Richardson have since taken to brewing beer for themselves with some unquestionably great results. After all, having access to home-grown hops is bound to produce beers by the likes of The Other One DIPA and Milo’s Phoenix IPA (although after all when visiting a barn, you shouldn’t sleep on the spectacular farmhouse ales they pump out either).
Charlton, Deerfield, and Sandwich, Massachusetts Whether it’s maintaining quality or being careful not to overshoot demand, scaling up a brewery is hard work, no matter how you look at it. That’s part of what makes Tree House Brewing’s growth over the past two years-especially amidst a global pandemic-so notable. Instead of navigating complex distribution networks to get their cans and kegs into bars, restaurants, and beer shops across the Commonwealth, the brewery has opted to sell exclusively through its own production facilities. What began as a single location has blossomed into larger and new facilities across the state, including one on Cape Cod which opened its doors over the summer. Whether you’re ordering your haul ahead of time and picking it up in their incredibly efficient to-go line or stopping by the taproom for a few pints while you fill up a case, it becomes immediately clear that controlling your own sales without a distributor guarantees that every single can or pour you receive will be as fresh as humanly possible. If the next few years play out even half as explosive for the brewery, it will still be a huge feat.
Doral, Florida Venezuela has never been renowned for craft brewing thanks to the dominance of light-bodied lagers, but that never deterred the brewing passions of natives Juan Manuel Torres, Daniel Chocron, Ignacio Montenegro, and Iker Elorriaga. The experimentation with different styles in a garage eventually led to relocation in the U.S. to hone their skills and eventually launch a 15,000-square-foot, industrial-chic production facility, taproom and pet-friendly “Animal’s Roots and Rock Garden” patio in downtown Doral. Proudly independent and family owned with inclusivity in mind, the Tripping crew has a knack for tapping into the community with the help of a welcoming staff, festive atmosphere, and lip-smacking barbecue by Gorilla City. Oh, and of course, there’s an adventurous variety of solid brews including IPAs, pilsners, and the claim to fame-fruited sours-all packaged in cans vibrantly decorated with wildlife donning heavy eyelids inviting consumers to chillax while imbibing. Now, the brewery is expanding its kingdom with distribution into neighboring states that are begging for its product.
Waunakee, Wisconsin Untitled Art colors outside the lines-in a way drinkers can’t get enough of. Pushing the boundaries of flavors and beverage styles, fans can always expect the unexpected, whether it’s a non-alcoholic Italian pilsner, an imperial strawberry shortcake-flavored smoothie seltzer, a new release in its line of Pixy Stix-inspired hard seltzers, or blackberry-flavored CBD sparkling water. Yes, the brewery makes beer, too, but expect it to also pack the food-focused flavors. Exhibit A: Black & Blue Chocolate Chip, an imperial stout with blackberry and blueberry puree, cocoa nibs, maple syrup, and milk sugar. When Untitled Art does release a more classic style-a West Coast IPA or 95-calorie light lager-it can similarly feel like a curveball in contrast to its more wild concoctions.
Roswell, Georgia Nestled in the burgeoning city of Roswell just north of Atlanta, this brewery sparked things off in late 2017, showcasing owner and brewmaster Matthew Curling’s grasp for IPAs-especially the New England-style Cashmere-opportunely during the national emergence of the style. Now Variant’s industrial-chic taproom boasts a plethora of selections including a Biere de Garde, Pina Colada Blonde, phenomenal barrel-aged stouts like the popular Imperial Mexican PRC, and yes, a gang of gorgeous-hued sours and other self-titled “Variants” such as the Sop, Drop & Roll milkshake gose brewed with soursop. An added bonus: Roswell’s happening historic Canton Street is just steps away to keep the party going. Definitely hit them up.
Weymouth, Massachusetts A lot has happened since Vitamin Sea opened the doors to its taproom three years ago. Luckily, it’s mostly involved living up to the hype it generated in the early days. What began as a go-to option for some of the most sought-after cans in Massachusetts has blossomed into a regional powerhouse bordering on household-name status, thanks in no small part to a seemingly undying devotion to collaborating as much as possible with other reputable breweries. And it’s not just hazy IPAs and rich stouts that result from these meetings of the minds: beers like Dino’s Eulogy-a beautifully balanced banana lager brewed as a project with the beloved beer masters at Other Half in New York City-show that anything is possible when you put your mind to it.
Greeley, Colorado Weldwerks makes one of the most popular new-wave New England-style hazy IPAs called Juicy Bits, which has beer fans lining up. But even that might have been surpassed in beer-geek buzz by the GABF gold-medal winning Medianoche barrel-aged Imperial Stout. These days it’s all about the DDH single-hop variations of Juicy Bits. No, DDH is not a hot new street drug, it’s the abbreviation for double dry-hopped beer. This addictive technique involves teabagging a fermented beer with bags of whole hops not once, but twice. Untappd beer nerds are tripping on this addictive technique for getting the dankest buzz out of hops.
The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.
From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.
Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.
Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.