The craft beer boom is not relegated to any one region. As of the end of September, the United States had over 4,000 active breweries and was approaching the 1873 historic high of 4,131 breweries. Even more exciting for those looking to test the craft waters, over 75% of adults of legal drinking age live within 10 miles of a brewery.
State by state, legislators are easing laws to encourage craft beer production as the industry continues to generate jobs and revenue. Formerly blighted parts of town have been rejuvenated by the presence of craft breweries and the ecosystem they engenders.
But where to start? While new breweries continue to crop up, we can’t forget the pioneers who led the way. We looked at several factors — Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and World Beer Cup medals, rankings on popular beer rating websites, history, lineage, production numbers, etc. – to come up with one brewery per state (plus Washington D.C.) to add to your ever expanding brewery itinerary.
*States are in ranked in order of number of breweries per capita (per 100,000 21+ adults) according to 2014 statistics provided by the Brewers Association.
1. Vermont (8.6): The Alchemist, 35 Crossroad Rd., Waterbury, VT
While Hill Farmstead Brewery and Lawson’s Finest Liquids are both turning out much sought after beers, the original in-demand beer remains Heady Topper. But, Heady Topper might soon be usurped by its own kin: The Alchemist recently released Focal Banger, another high ABV IPA that is currently getting equally rave reviews.
2. Oregon (7.4): Pelican Pub & Brewery, 33180 Cape Kiwanda Dr., Pacific City, OR
One of the most photographic breweries on the list, Pelican Pub & Brewery is also one of the most lauded in Oregon. Located on the beach in Pacific City with a massive sea stack in the background, Pelican has won both the Small and Large Brewpub of the Year honors twice at GABF.
3. Colorado (6.1): Dry Dock Brewing Company, 15120 E Hampden Ave., Aurora, CO
With all of the new and old breweries in Denver proper, Dry Dock — based in Aurora — sometimes gets overlooked. Opened in 2005, it was one of the first second-wave breweries in Colorado and won Small Brewing Company of the Year at the 2009 GABF. They quadrupled in size in 2013 with the opening of their North Dock facility which also features a tasting room called the Canoe Room.
4. Montana (5.9): Montana Brewing Company, 113 N Broadway, Billings, MT
Montana ranks fourth in breweries per capita, but 22nd in number of breweries, which speaks to the vast wildness of the state. Located in the state’s most populous city, Montana Brewing is also the state’s most award-winning brewery. Check out the aptly named Custer’s Last Stout and Sandbagger Gold.
5. Wyoming (5.3): Thai Me Up, 75 East Pearl Ave., Jackson, WY
Probably the only GABF Small Brewpub of the Year to exclusively serve American influenced modern Thai food, Thai Me Up has 20 taps that serve up award-winning beers from Melvin Brewing. Seek out the 2×4, a 10% imperial IPA.
6. Maine (5.2): Maine Beer Company, 525 U.S. Route 1, Freeport, ME
Maine Beer Company is recognizable by their simple white labels and their complex ales, such as their Lunch (IPA) and Dinner (double IPA). Employing local ingredients and folklore in the creation of their beers, this iconic Maine outpost is only a 20-minute drive north of Portland.
7. Washington (5): Chuckanut Brewery, 601 W Holly St., Bellingham, WA
Washington is another state where breweries seem to pop up every week. But, you’d be remiss if you skipped Chuckanut Brewery and the handcrafted ales and lagers of master brewer, Will Kemper. Opened in 2008, the brewery has moved towards Zero Waste and supports over 100 non-profits in the region.
8. Alaska (4.3): Alaskan Brewing Company, 5429 Shaune Dr., Juneau, AK
The first brewery to open in Juneau since Prohibition, Alaskan Brewing Co. fired up its brew kettles in 1986. Their popular and widely available Alaskan Amber is based on a recipe brewed by the Douglas Brewing Company, which shuttered in 1907.
9. Idaho (3.9): Grand Teton Brewing Company, 430 Old Jackson Hwy., Victor, ID
Located just across the border from Wyoming, Grand Teton has been crafting beers inspired by the surrounding Teton Valley since 1988. Their water is glacial run-off collected at a spring a half-mile away and their barley and hops are also sourced from southern Idaho.
10. New Hampshire (2.7): 7th Settlement, 47 Washington St., Dover, NH
Named after Dover – the oldest permanent settlement in the New Hampshire and the seventh in the New World – 7th Settlement is a place where farmers, brewers and epicureans can meet and enjoy the farm to table fare and craft brews. Their historically themed ales carry a story and the 1623 Brown Ale won a gold at the 2015 GABF.
11. New Mexico (2.5): Marble Brewery, 111 Marble Ave. NW, Albuquerque, NM
Marble recently broke ground on a $1.5 expansion project at its downtown location that will double its production and include a new rooftop deck. They won Small Brewing Company of the Year in 2014 at GABF and their Double White Ale is highly decorated.
12. Nebraska (2.4): Nebraska Brewing Company, 7474 Towne Center Pkwy #101, Papillion, NE
Located just south of Omaha, Nebraska Brewing is a heartlands mainstay with a solid distribution footprint. Brewing on a second-hand system from Japan, the brewery produces several highly rated barrel-aged beers including their Malange A Trois (Belgian strong pale ale), HopAnomaly (Belgian IPA), Black Betty Imperial Stout, Apricot Au Poivre Saison and Fathead Barleywine.
13. Wisconsin (2.3): Central Waters Brewing Company, 351 Allen St., Amherst, WI
In 1996, two friends bought an abandoned circa-1920 building in central Wisconsin and opened Central Waters. Thanks to the help of a committed brewer and backer, the brewery remains independently owned. Their Brewers Reserve Series made up of bourbon barrel-aged beers is highly regarded.
14. Michigan (2.2): Bastone Brewery, 419 S. Main St., Royal Oak, MI
Bastone is a great place to grab a beer before catching a show at the historic Royal Oak Music Theatre. They were named Small Brewpub of the Year at the GABF in 2014 and their French, German and Belgian inspired ales have won individual hardware.
15. Iowa (2.1): Toppling Goliath Brewing Company, 310 College Dr., Decorah, IA
Head over to the Iowa section of Beer Advocate and you’ll see why this one is a no-brainer. Toppling Goliath currently has 18 of the top rated 20 beers in the state, including the top 16. Head to Decorah in northeast Iowa to sample some of their big beer like the 12% ABV Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout (imperial stout), 12% ABV Mornin’ Delight (double IPA) or 8% ABV King Sue (double IPA).
16. South Dakota (2): Firehouse Brewing Company, 610 Main St., Rapid City, SD
SoDak’s oldest operating brewery, Firehouse has been pumping out beer for over 24 years. The brewery is located in Rapid City’s original fire station, dating back to 1915 and listed on the National Historic Register.
17. Minnesota (1.9): Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, 1430 S Washington Ave., Minneapolis, MN
On the banks of the Mississippi River on the edge of downtown Minneapolis, Town Hall has been winning GABF medals since 2000 including three golds for Hope & King Scotch Ale and individual medals for Russian Roulette Imperial Stout and Czar Jack Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout.
18. Indiana (1.7): 3 Floyds Brewing Company, 9750 Indiana Pkwy, Munster, IN
One sip of their supremely balanced American pale ale, Zombie Dust, and you’ll see why people drive for hours and line up early to get their hands on this Munster brewery’s output. Check the site before you go to see what’s available for carryout. Beer is limited to two cases per person. Or head to their brewpub for drafts and a meal.
19. Delaware (1.6): Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, 6 Cannery Village Center, Milton, DE
Yes, Delaware might only have 11 breweries. But, when one of them is named “Dogfish Head” quality clearly trumps quantity in the Blue Hen State. Stop by the Milton location to see Bunyan’s Lunchbox the Steampunk Treehouse and tour the facility. You never know what creative and possibly historic brew Sam Calagione will be serving.
20. California (1.6): Firestone Walker Brewing Company, 1400 Ramada Dr., Paso Robles, CA
Firestone Walker has won a staggering amount of accolades: 47 medals at GABF alone, along with Mid-Sized Brewery of the Year four times at both GABF the World Beer Cup. Plan your pitstop for the fall or winter when Velvet Merlin (oatmeal stout) is available and follow it up with a Double Jack (double IPA) and/or Wookey Jack (black rye IPA).
21. Washington, D.C. (1.6): DC Brau Brewing Company, 3178-B Bladensburg Rd. NE, Washington D.C.
D.C.’s first packaging brewery since 1956, DC Brau is a great stop on your way out of town after a day of sightseeing or lobbying on The Hill. The beer names are politically tongue-in-cheek such as The Citizen (Belgian-style pale ale), The Public (pale ale) and The Corruption (IPA).
22. Pennsylvania (1.5): Tröegs Independent Brewing, 200 E. Hershey Park Dr., Hershey, PA
While Hershey might be best known for its chocolates, craft beer enthusiasts forgo the sweet treats and head straight for the taps of Nugget Nectar, a 7.5% dry-hopped imperial amber ale available in late winter.
23. Rhode Island (1.4): Narragansett Brewing Company, 60 Ship St., Providence, RI
This Providence brewery was originally founded all the way back in 1890 in Cranston and used to be the number one selling brand in New England. Its popularity ebbed and it wasn’t until 2005 that Narragansett found investors with the resources to revitalize the brand. It worked: Their Innsmouth Olde Ale medaled in 2015.
24. North Carolina (1.4): Foothills Brewing, 638 West 4th St., Winston-Salem, NC
Foothills Brewing has been almost doubling production every year since they opened in 2005. The downtown outpost offers food to compliment their award-winning beers. Keep an eye out for their Sexual Chocolate imperial stout and the bourbon barrel-aged version.
25. Ohio (1.3): Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery, 25 Campbell St., Athens, OH
With their own farm supplying resources for the brewpub and brewery, Jackie O’s takes pride in every aspect of their operation. The production facility/tap room has allowed them to increase production, start canning and experiment with various types of barrel-aged beers.
26. Missouri (1.3): Piney River Brewing Company, 15194 Walnut Grove Dr., Bucyrus, MO
Husband and wife homebrewing team, Joleen and Brian Durham, opened Piney River in 2010 to make beers that celebrate the Ozarks. The brewery is in a renovated 70-year-old barn on the banks of its namesake waterway.
27. Virginia (1.3): Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company, 50 Nothwind Lane, Lexington, VA
Located on a bucolic hillside in the heartland of Virginia, the Devil’s Backbone Outpost offers multiple taps at an environmentally friendly and community-forward location. Their two locations have won overall GABF medals for Small Brewing Company (Basecamp) and Mid-Size Brewing Company (Outpost) of the Year.
28. New York (1.3): Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, 444 Saw Mill River Rd., Elmsford, NY
Nestled just north of NYC in Westchester County, Scott Vaccaro founded Captain Lawrence in 2006 after successful brewing stints at Asnams Brewery in the U.K. and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. The brewery is known for Belgian-style ales with an American twist and their award-winning sours.
29. Nevada (1.2): Brasserie Saint James, 901 S. Center St., Reno, NV
While the neon lights might shine the brightest in Las Vegas, the Biggest Little City in the World can at least boast the 2014 GABF Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year. The Brasserie focuses on German, Belgian and French styles ales with the occasional American offering.
30. Massachusetts (1.2): Trillium Brewing Company, 369 Congress St., Boston, MA
Rooted in the traditions of New England farmhouse-style brewing, Trillium’s Fort Point facility offers beer for purchase only (growlers and bottles). They pride themselves on their wild and hop-forward ales utilizing regional ingredients.
31. Arizona (1.1): Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company, 721 N. Arizona Ave. #103, Gilbert, AZ
Located in the Phoenix ‘burbs, Arizona Wilderness offers “handcrafted beers, facecrafted beards.” Two locations in one, you can sample the drafts in the tasting room or at the brewpub where you can also get a hearty meal. Check out the Sweet Potato Saison, Superstition Coffee Stout and Picacho Pecan Pie Brown Ale which all use local ingredients.
32. Illinois (1.1): Piece Brewery and Pizzeria, 1927 W. North Ave., Chicago, IL
Located in the hipster-hive of Wicker Park, Piece Brewery has been crafting small-batch beers since 2001 and winning medals for almost as long. In 2006 they won the Small Brewpub of the Year at the World Beer Cup. Seek out the Dark & Curvy Dunkelweizen and The Weight (American pale ale).
33. North Dakota (1.1): Fargo Brewing Company, 610 N University Dr., Fargo, ND
North Dakota has a paltry six breweries in the entire state. Luckily for them, not many people live in those parts so the per capita ratio isn’t that inauspicious. There are only three ranked beers from the state on Beer Advocate and all three happen to be from Fargo Brewing Company. Their Fargo Original Lager won a bronze medal at GABF in 2015.
34. Kansas (1.1): Gella’s Diner and Lb. Brewing Company, 117 E. 11th St., Hays, KS
Gella’s is the perfect stopover when undertaking the grueling trek across Kansas on I-70. Located in Hays, this quaint, downtown brewpub has won Small Brewpub of the Year at GABF along with several medals for individual beers. The food is also fantastic with daily, well-priced specials.
35. Utah (1.1): RedRock Brewing Company, 254 200 W, Salt Lake City, UT
RedRock has overcome some extremely anachronistic alcohol regulations to become Utah’s most decorated brewery. It was the Large Brewpub of the Year in 2007 and their Nut Brown Ale has won a host of medals.
36. Connecticut (1): Cambridge House Brew Pub, 357 Salmon Brook St., Granby, CT
With a traditional British pub feel, the Cambridge House is located close to the Massachusetts border in the northern portion of the state. Try the award-winning Copper Hill Kosch, Abijah Rowe IPA, Alt-45 and Three Steve Stout along with a flame-grilled pizza or beer-battered fish and chips.
37: Hawaii (1): Maui Brewing Company, 605 Lipoa Pkwy, Kihei, HI
Being on an island, it’s cost-effective to source as many ingredients locally as possible. That’s what Maui Brewing does for their brewery and brewpub. Their flagships such as Bikini Blonde Lager, Big Swell IPA and Coconut Porter are available on the mainland, but you’ll find limited releases at their island brewhouse.
38. Maryland (0.9): Flying Dog Brewery, 4607 Wedgewood Blvd., Frederick, MD
Flying Dog got their start in Colorado, but found a new home in Maryland in 2008 when they purchased the Frederick Brewing Company. Known for their Hunter S. Thompson/canine inspired labels and names, the brewery produces Gonzo Imperial Porter in Thompson’s honor.
39. Arkansas (0.9): Diamond Bear Brewing Company, 600 N Broadway St., North Little Rock, AR
The first commercial brewery within the state of Arkansas, Diamond Bear served its first beer in 2000 and doubled its production capacity in 2009. Their pale ale snagged a gold at the 2007 GABF and a silver in 2003 and their Irish red and honey Weiss have also been decorated.
40. South Carolina (0.9): COAST Brewing Company, 1250 2nd St. N, North Charleston, SC
This aptly titled coastal brewery is family owned and set on an old Navy base. Using organic and local ingredients, COAST’s beers are available in cans and on tap. Look for Boy King a 10.5% imperial IPA and their single hop creations.
41. Tennessee (0.8): Blackstone Brewing Company, 2312 Clifton Ave., Nashville, TN
Nashville’s oldest brewery also has the distinction of brewing the GABF’s most decorated brown porter in the history of the competition. Based on the homebrew recipe of founder, Kent Taylor, St. Charles Porter is among Blackstone’s diverse array of flagship beers.
42. West Virginia (0.8): Greenbrier Valley Brewing, 862 Industrial Park Rd., Suite A, Maxwelton, WV
Though lacking in overall breweries, West Virginia does have some craft die-hards paying homage to the “Wild and Wonderful” ways of the Mountain State. Greenbrier gives a nod to some of the state’s colorful characters and folklore with names such as Mothman Black IPA and Devil Anse IPA.
43. Florida (0.8): Wynwood Brewing Company, 565 NW 24th St., Miami, FL
Though Cigar City is certainly the most recognizable brewery in the Sunshine State, Wynwood is building a reputation in the north Miami Arts District that bears the same name. With unique spray-paint can tap handles, the brewery reflects the vibrancy of the surrounding community. Look for Pop’s Porter which took home a gold at the 2014 GABF.
44. Texas (0.6): Saint Arnold Brewing Company, 2000 Lyons Ave., Houston, TX
While Austin might be the hotbed for craft beer in Texas, over in Houston, Saint Arnold has been quietly brewing quality beer since 1994. Their Fancy Lawnmower Kolsch has won two golds and two bronzes at GABF.
45. Georgia (0.6): Creature Comforts Brewing Company, 271 W. Hancock Ave., Athens, GA
Located in the music hotbed of Athens, Ga., Creature Comforts looked to a diverse array of characters from Einstein to Outkast to create their “curious” brand. Their See the Stars (Russian imperial stout) and Tropicalia (American IPA) are among the highest rated beers in Georgia.
46. Kentucky (0.6): Bluegrass Brewing Company, 3939 Shelbyville Rd., Louisville, KY
The original brewpub location on Shelbyville Road — opened in 1993 — is the oldest microbrewery/brewpub in Louisville. When they’re available, be sure to sample the Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout and Bearded Pat’s Barleywine, the later has won several golds at GABF.
47. Alabama (0.6 breweries per capita): Blue Pants Brewery, 500 Lanier Rd., Madison, AL
Located in Madison, Ala., Blue Pants won a GABF silver in 2015 for their Dortmunder Adambier in the Historical Beers category. Making a comeback, Adambier is basically a top-fermented ale aged like a lager. Blue Pants is close to Hunstville, Decatur and Athens and features live music twice a week on their massive patio.
48: New Jersey (0.5): Kane Brewing Company, 1750 Bloomsbury Ave., Ocean Township, NJ
The craft beer wave has not yet struck the shores of New Jersey, but one brewery helping change the perception of craft brewing in the Garden State is Kane. Their American and Belgian influenced beers are produced on a custom-built two-vessel brew house and self-distributed to bars and restaurants in New Jersey. Keep an eye out for their cerveza mysterioso small batch line-up and the Night to End All Dawns series.
49: Louisiana (0.5): Bayou Teche Brewing, 1094 Bushville Hwy., Arnaudville, LA
Paying homage to the nearby waterway that bears the same name, Bayou Tech was founded on the principal of brewing beers that would compliment Cajun and Creole cuisine. The brewery is a traditional Acadian style home replete with a tasting porch for thirsty visitors.
50. Oklahoma (0.4): Prairie Artisan Ales, 1803 S. 49th Ave., Tulsa, OK
With only ten breweries in state, craft choices for Oklahoma denizens are few and far between. One option is Prairie Artisan Ale, which is cranking out critically acclaimed beers at a prodigious pace. BOMB! is a highly sought after 14% imperial stout.
51. Mississippi (0.3): Lazy Magnolia Brewing, 7030 Roscoe-Turner Rd., Kiln, MS
Craft beer drinkers in the Magnolia State only have seven breweries to sate their thirst. Fortunately, there are a few good ones including Lazy Magnolia which has drawn rave reviews for their Timber Beast (double IPA), Black Creek Southern Style Imperial Stout, 10 (quad) and, of course, Southern Pecan (English brown ale).