The craft beer movement has created microbreweries and local craft beer scenes throughout the country, and chances are, you won’t have to go far if you have a hankerin’ for something more than your standard lawnmower lager. Here are six of our favorite cities with vibrant craft beer scenes:
Recently celebrating it’s one year anniversary, Torched Hop Brewing Co. in Atlanta was started by two brothers who couldn’t see themselves behind a desk for 40 hours a week. Bringing delicious brews and even better food to the people of Atlanta is what Stephen and Chris Bivins strive for every day.
With beers named after classic Atlanta namesakes like Mighty Mo, the organ at the famous Fox Theatre, and Hops-De-Leon, the brewery’s flagship brew named after Ponce De Leon, there’s a beer for everyone here. Their lunch and dinner menus are outstanding as well, with items such as Forbidden Fried Rice, a Smoked Tofu BLT and their stand-out Classic Double Cheeseburger. With a giant bocce ball court, video games around the restaurant and out-of-this-world weekly specials, Torched Hop is an Atlantan’s little escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The small town of Buellton, California has been a part of the craft beer movement for years with two award winning small breweries getting their start here: Firestone Walker Brewing Co. and Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.
Firestone, a long-time favorite on the Central Coast, has proved to be one of the best local breweries distributing beers across the country, first opening a facility in nearby Paso Robles and then Buellton. Everyone in Santa Barbara County is familiar with their 805 beer, named for the local area code. The Buellton brewery has a Taproom Restaurant serving up delicious food to pair with their wide variety of beers. They have also recently opened Barrelworks in the same location. The Barrelworks Tasting Room and Blending Center features beers from their wild ale program as well as one-off selections from their barrel-aging spirits program. Single barrel and small batch brews are limited in quantity and available only while supplies last.
Newcomer Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company was founded by father and son team, Jim and Jaime Dietenhofer, in 2010. With a passion for craft beer, they set out to pay homage to the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley with handcrafted beer and hand-drawn artwork depicting the local landscape on their labels. Named after the mountain seen from their family home in Los Olivos, Fig Mountain opened in Buellton, California with only a handful of employees. Since it opened its doors it has become one of the fastest growing craft breweries in America and now has a staff of over 200. There are currently six taprooms along California’s Central Coast.
Carlsbad, with stunning beaches, friendly locals and year round near perfect weather, is well worth a visit any time of year and just 35 miles from downtown San Diego. The area is home to a wealth of small, local and welcoming craft breweries – including start-ups and family run businesses outside of the big corporate models, that are passionate about delivering memorable taste experiences. The kind of thing you’ll be thinking and talking about for years to come.
Just a stone’s throw from the celebrated North County ‘Hops Highway’, Rouleur Brewing Company, is a unique cycling themed brewery. It exploded onto Carlsbad’s expanding craft beer scene in April with ‘rule-bending beers’ from former engineer turned home brewer turned brewery owner, Rawley Macias, who happens to be a huge fan of cycling, if you haven’t already guessed.
The beer is everything that you would expect from a former engineer – experimental and inventive hybrid beer that breaks from traditional brewing guidelines. Think American style recipes using flavorful Belgian yeast strains.
Macias has six signature beers: The Domestique Blonde Ale; The Sprinteur Red Ale; The Puncheur Pale Ale; The Grimpeur Dark Ale; The Clydesdale India Pale Ale and The Soloist, a brilliant and rarely found Golden Strong.
Charleston, South Carolina
Located in the West Ashley neighborhood of Charleston, SC, the Charles Towne Fermentory brewery and tasting room opened last December and is slowly making waves. They make an absolutely killer NE-style IPA called Sungazer, and they have a fledgling sour and barrel program that is very promising.
In place of serving food, they have a small kitchen and ordering window and invite in businesses like 2Nixons, which does ramen, yakitori, and other snacks that go very well with beer.
The tasting room itself is predominately made of wood and has convertible doors that open out to the sidewalk and street.
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Riff Raff Brewing’s Jason Cox enthusiastically explains to Pagosa Springs visitors why his craft beer is earth-powered. By tapping into the 144oF heat of the world’s deepest hot spring, Cox and his innovative partners established the country’s second brewery that utilizes geothermal energy throughout the operation. Jason is a passionate advocate for environmentally sustainable practices which has elevated Pagosa Springs as a global leader in this arena.
Yakima Valley Washington
Meghann Quinn grew up in the hop industry, as her great-grandparents first planted hops in the Yakima Valley in 1932. Growing up, she worked on the family farm and helped with all aspects of the harvesting process. She & her brother Kevin Smith were the first in their family to come up with the idea of building a brewery on their family’s working hop farm. What started out as a “Business Plan” assignment for a college class is now Bale Breaker Brewery, one of the only breweries in Washington State that is located on a hop farm that goes back 5 generations! Meghann has been quoted saying “She has hops in her DNA and is very proud of her hometown” She wanted to create a place where others could bring their friends, family to enjoy the Valley and (of course) great beer. The Brewery also believes in supporting the community in local events and national fundraisers such as the Ales for ALS. The popularity of fresh IPA beer has grown and the brewery recently finished an expansion of the production area, which allowed them the space for their own “Imagination Station”, a small brew house where small batches of experimental beers can be produced, including some that would be exclusive to their own taproom.
Bale Breaker Brewing Company opened the doors to their 30-barrel production brewery in April 2013. The 27,000 square foot facility features an onsite taproom (no food preparation, but outside food is welcome) with a beautiful outdoor patio and lawn area, perfect for enjoying the Yakima sunshine here in Washington state.