If you love beer, you have an appreciation for how it’s made. According to the Brewers Association, an average of 1.5 new breweries opens every day in the U.S. alone, and 2013 saw a 15-percent increase in regional craft breweries. The microbrewery market, meanwhile, rose over 22 percent from 2012 to 2013. In 2014, 13 states reached the 100-brewery milestone. In November, the United States brewery count returned to historic levels. The number of opened breweries passed 3,200 mark and the number of brewery licenses reached the highest ever, topping 4,500 in the first sixth months of the year.
The boom in beer production marks the return of localized beer production specifically. The American Enterprise Institute calls this the “Golden Age of Beer,” and with this big boom comes big competition. For cities like Boston, where major brands like Samuel Adams are based, opening a brewery is serious business since all eyes will be on you. Trillium Brewing Company took the leap and set up shop against the big boys and highlighted local artisans, farmers, and growers as partners in their beer. In fact, when the company had to shut down for a short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, fans worried they hadn’t been able to take the heat.
Competition in Ashville, N.C., dubbed “Beer City, USA,” is reaching new heights, too. A new crop of breweries seems to open daily. “'Dramatic' doesn’t even begin to explain what’s happened [in the world of beer] in 20 years,” said Leah Wong Ashburn, vice president at Highland Brewing, Asheville’s first “legal” brewery.
So, whose brews are the best? We ranked the best new breweries in the U.S. based on innovation, quality, brew master background, and beer availability.
#10 Trillium Brewing Co., Boston
It took temerity to open a brewery in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood, where old-timers like Harpoon and Samuel Adams rule the roost. Four signature beers, including an oatmeal stout, and rotating seasonal beers, including the barrel-aged Pot&Kettle porter (which was offered with a two-bottle max limit), showcase the talents of local artisans who collaborate with Trillium to enhance the craft beer they produce.
#9 Moody Tongue, Chicago
Food lovers can appreciate brewmaster Jared Rouben’s approach to making beer. The Per Se alum follows a “culinary brewing” philosophy to make Moody Tongue’s unique portfolio of beers, including some infused with chocolate, rhubarb, tea, and even peas. His beers share flavor and aromatic characteristics with those found in wines and ciders, but are balanced with a variety of hops and malts. His beer-making classes give fans a chance to see how his beer brain works.