When we think of craft beer, we tend to think of the biggest players. Colorado comes to mind, and so does that tiny state on the west coast. (California? Is that it? Yeah, that's it.) What we usually don't think of, however, is the amazing, high-quality beer being brewed by breweries in up-and-coming states.
The following list, originally published by VinePair, has the six best new beer cities of the year, and we're already tweaking our work schedules to visit them all. They've also done the dirty work and compiled lists of recommended breweries which we've included below. Cheers, beer fans!
1. Albuquerque, New Mexico
New Mexico's close proximity to California and Colorado is a geographic fact. Did this cause it to become one of the hottest up-and-coming beer states? Perhaps it did, perhaps it didn't. What we do know, though, is that Albuquerque is producing some great brews in constantly increasing amounts.
Recommended breweries: La Cumbre Brewing Company, Bosque Brewing, Tractor Brewing Company, and Marble Brewery.
2. Birmingham, Alabama
VinePair mentions that the south isn't exactly known for its craft beer scene, and we couldn't agree more. Birmingham, however, is quickly becoming a different story. "It's the fastest growing craft-beer-drinking city in the country by volume," they write, "and local breweries are popping up to fill the gap."
Recommended breweries: Avondale Brewing Company, Good People Brewing Company, Cahaba Brewing Company, and Red Hills Brewing Company
3. Charlotte, North Carolina
VinePair discusses how Charlotte's beer scene has a little bit of something for every type of palate. "Between standouts like NoDa Brewing Company's Hop, Drop 'n Roll and offbeat new breweries that offer organic beers and kombucha like Lenny Boy Brewing Co., there's something for just about everyone in Charlotte."
Recommended breweries: NoDa Brewing Company, Birdsong Brewing Company, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, and Triple C Brewing Company
4. Des Moines, Iowa
VinePair taught us something incredibly interesting about Iowa's beer scene. "Until 2010, breweries in Iowa weren't permitted to make beer more than 6 percent alcohol by weight," they write. Our immediate thought? "Oh, oh wow." If you like Russian imperial stouts as much as we do, it's no wonder you haven't had any favorites from Iowa pre-2010. Now, though, the greater Des Moines area is generating breweries that have plenty of beers, some boozy some not.
Recommended breweries: 515 Brewing Company, Confluence Brewing Company, Firetrucker Brewery, and, if you're into a good sour, Exile Brewing Company
5. Indianapolis, Indiana
Chicago does beer, and they do it well. Indianapolis, a fairly close neighbor, is on its way to achieving a Chicago-level craft beer status. We'll drink anything once. That being said, Indianapolis breweries have a lot to offer. "Most of the places are small and on the newer side, making exploring the Indianapolis beer scene all the more enticing," says VinePair. We're excited to find out for ourselves.
Recommended breweries: Sun King Brewing Company, Indiana City Brewing Company, Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company, and Redemption Alewerks
6. Miami, Florida
Do we really believe that Miami beer is great? Let's chalk it up as "to be decided." VinePair insists that it is, though, so we won't judge it until we try it. While it's not yet as established as Tampa, Miami is dipping its toes into oceans of hops and barley, testing the waters out and apparently doing quite well.
Recommended breweries: Wynwood Brewing Company, Abbey Brewing, J. Wakefield Brewing, and M.I.A. Brewing