10 Under-The-Radar Craft Breweries To Watch In Spring 2019
According to the Brewer’s Association, there are now over 7,000 craft breweries in the United States, and the openings show no sign of slowing down. With all the variety, consumers are glutted with choice, it’s more difficult than ever to find the standouts. But if you can only travel to one brewery a year, you could do a lot worse than visiting one of the places on this list. Although they make a variety of styles, the breweries here are similar in that they represent the authenticity, creativity, and quality that have characterized American craft brewing over the last half decade.
Barrique is Nashville, Tennessee’s smallest brewery, and one of its most niche. The brewery gets its name from a common term for a French wine barrel, which owner Joel Stickrod uses to age every one of his beers. The result? Complex, acidic sour beer that rivals some of the best in the country. If you ever visit Barrique, talk to Stickrod about music — in addition to running a brewery, he’s a sound engineer for Darius Rucker.
Little Ferry, New Jersey
It’s not uncommon to hear, “I never knew there was a brewery in Bergen County.” But this small taproom in Little Ferry, New Jersey, has a big personality. It specializes in New England style IPAs, the style of beer that causes connoisseurs to line up for a few cans. Try Heady Jams, a thick, juicy IPA that easily hides its boozy 8.5% ABV
Asheville, North Carolina
Beer fans have long been excited for the opening of DSSOLVR, an Asheville, North Carolina-based brewery founded in part by former brewers at Burial, one of the South’s most respected beer makers. Although it’s not yet open, the folks at DSSOLVR have been building press by collaborating with other breweries across the country, including Night Shift in Boston and Hoof Hearted in Columbus. When they launch, the brewery will specialize in three areas: traditional German and English ales, barrel-aged sours, and new school IPAs and stouts.
Florida was late to join the craft beer party, but they’ve been making up for lost time. The Tampa-area has been a big part of that shift, with breweries like Cigar City and Angry Chair that regularly see lines for their bottled stouts. But it’s Hidden Springs Ale Works that’s the hidden gem. With crazy creations like Man Child (a peanut butter and jelly Berliner Weiss) and Deja Moo (a milk stout with smoked chipotle peppers and cocoa nibs), a visit to Hidden Springs is bound to show you something creative. After you visit Hidden Springs, be sure to head next door to Garagiste, one of the best meaderies in the world.
Brave the L.A. traffic and head to east to Pomona, California, where you’ll find Homage founder Matt Garcia making some of the country’s best sour beer in his light-filled taproom. Inspired by the lambic beers of Belgium, Garcia is often behind the bar himself, serving bottled beer out of a wicker lambic basket. The baskets keep the bottle at an angle to avoid pouring the sediment that develops inside the bottles of traditional, unfiltered sour beer. Keep an eye out for Wild Pink Robots, a barrel-aged sour conditioned on whole organic strawberries.
Elk Grove Village, Illinois
Founder Mike Pallen got his start in home brewing before training professionally at Chicago-area breweries Pipeworks and 18th Street. His pedigree shines through at Mikerphone, where every beer is a music reference. Try the Jagged Little Pils or Check 1, 2, and be sure to check out Pallen’s “Smells Like a Beer Fest,” which annually raises thousands of dollars for area youth programs.
Emily and Lee Cleghorn met in Manitou Springs, Colorado, while they were both in the army. Four months later, they were married. They moved from Tennessee to New York, but Colorado was always in their hearts. After two years of brewing school and an internship at the now-famous Other Half Brewing in Brooklyn, the Cleghorns settled in Frisco, Colorado to open a brewery. Their motto? “Leave the Life Below.” Their warmth and authenticity come through in the beers, and their IPAs are some of the best in the country.
Alabama was the last state to make home brewing legal (in 2013!), and it’s not often that you hear someone say, “I tried the most amazing beer in Birmingham.” But the young brewers at TrimTab are changing that. “We believe that beer is a springboard for creating community and that as brewers we hold a special role and responsibility,” they write on their website. Their flagship TrimTab IPA is complex and balanced, and helps define what “southern beer” looks like.
Co-founder Dino Furnari has been a fixture in Boston’s brewing scene for years, but it wasn’t until early 2019 that Vitamin Sea finally got off the ground. And the community responded — thirsty fans flooded the taproom, and the brewery sold out of its stockpile of cans on the day they opened. Grab an IPA at this South Shore brewery and talk to the staff. You’ll be hard-pressed to find nicer people in the industry.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Traditionally, Fort Lauderdale has been a town where grandparents move for retirement, but a new generation is making the city a destination for young people. Owned by four Florida natives who love beer, the brewery makes progressive styles that are rooted in brewing tradition. They take full advantage of Florida’s agriculture, often visiting local farms to pick the fruit they use in their beer. And they’re big contributors to the scene themselves — they currently have 65 hop plants growing hydroponically at the Urban Farming Institute in Oakland Park.