It’s no longer really accurate to say that the craft brewery scene is exploding. After a decade or more of detonating what Americans knew and accepted about beer, we’re past the boom, and talking about our most recent favorite IPA on the regular. That’s partially what makes these 10 breweries so special. Not only have they survived or learned from the craft beer scene surge, they’ve come out on the other side better than ever.
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Our winning brewery, Wicked Weed, is not only one of the many reasons why Asheville, North Carolina is truly Beer City, U.S.A., it also exemplifies how much Southerners attitudes and expectations of beer have changed. Sure, they serve pints of innovative styles like a pink saison brewed with blueberry lemongrass tea or others with locally made chocolate nibs, but they are also able to sustain an entire satellite brewery solely dedicated to sour beers called the Funkatorium. Wicked Weed is also an example of how breweries have become about so much more than beer; they’re award-winning restaurants, neighborhood town halls, virtual sports arenas, and even wedding venues.
Tennessee Brew Works has sculptural cheese and charcuterie boards that are almost too stunning to eat, while Tampa’s Cigar City Brewery launched a beer phenomenon with its Hunahpu’s Day, a festival commemorating one of its limited release brews, which has become such a celebration they had to move it offsite to a city park. Jester King has become a pilgrimage site for beer geeks across the world where they come to see how they produce hyperlocal beers, from growing their own grain and fruit to using well water from underneath their property.
A tiny brewery in college town Athens, Georgia, Creature Comforts’ fabled IPA Tropicalia inspires epic quests to find just one six pack. But Birmingham’s Good People Brewing Co. shows off what we love the most about Southern breweries: they’re often some of the first instigators and catalysts of revitalization.