50 of the Best New Breweries

People & Places by | May 2018 | Issue #132

Since 2011 we’ve tracked the rapid growth of the craft brewing industry in the United States, documenting the early successes of beer entrepreneurs from Arizona to Vermont. To help us build our annual feature on brewery openings, we reach out to our writers, subscribers, and followers for their suggestions. This year’s list is bigger than ever, and, for the first time, we’ve included a number of Canadian breweries. Here are 50 of the most promising newcomers, as chosen by you.

Northeast

Battery Steele Brewing
Portland, Maine
Opened: April 2017

On Portland, Maine’s Industrial Way, the avenue that birthed titans like Maine Beer Co. and Bissell Brothers, 2017 saw the beginnings of Battery Steele Brewing. The industrial setting, with shining tanks directly in front of consumers, harkens back to the craft breweries in years past. Co-founder Jacob Condon says Battery Steele is a product of exploration and “pushing the limits of ourselves and the beers we produce.” The well-received Flume is an 8 percent Double IPA brewed with English malts and Citra and Mosaic hops. Battery Steele also brews an IPA as part of its OnSight Experimental Series. In 2018, Condon says, the brewery will expand its physical space and “add some variety” to the hop-heavy lineup, which already includes Knox Bière de Garde and Telos Stout. MATT OSGOOD

Brewery Silvaticus Ales and Lagers
Amesbury, Massachusetts
Opened: September 2017

At Amesbury’s Silvaticus, owners Jay Bullen and Mark Zappasodi believe the most important part of beer is the experience. Alongside co-founders Michelle Riaz and Caroline Becker Zappasodi, the artful taproom was designed to bring into focus the experience of drinking with friends and strangers, while the outdoor beer garden sits along the Powwow River. There are no TVs and never will be; the decor was crafted by the owners and local artists. Silvaticus makes German and Belgian-inspired beers, including its flagship 6.5 percent Saison Apropos, and also utilizes ingredients like spruce directly sourced from Zappasodi’s farm in nearby Merrimac. In 2018, there’s no expansion plan, but Silvaticus, which means “from the wood,” intends to live up to its name by adding foeders and other wood vessels to the brewhouse. MATT OSGOOD

Counter Weight Brewing Company
Hamden, Connecticut
Opened: March 2017

Matt Westfall, head brewer and owner of Counter Weight Brewing, could have continued to only churn out the style of beer that helped propel his last employer—New England Brewing Co.—into the stratosphere: India Pale Ales. Yet when he struck out on his own with Counter Weight, he stretched into new territory with fine results. From the delicate WorkHorse German Keller Pilsner to the roasty Void Oatmeal Stout, Westfall has seen his reputation strengthen. One can still experience the brewer’s mastery of the juicy IPA, including the dry-hopped Spiral Architect, at either of the brewery’s two on-site tasting rooms, or from cans. “While we certainly love drinking hoppy beers, we also really love more complex styles,” says Westfall, “beers with more nuance and finesse.” WILL SISS

District 96 Beer Factory
New City, New York
Opened: July 2017

In a small suburb less than 20 miles north of New York City, John Potenza and his two partners have added this standout brewery adjacent to their popular restaurant, The Burger Loft. Unsurprisingly, some of the Loft’s 15 taps are now exclusive to its new neighbor. You can also drink in District 96’s bright, airy taproom. At both spots, you’ll enjoy a variety of hazy, hop-loaded ales from Chase Planson, formerly of New England Brewing Co. Among the winning creations: Mother of All Bombs and Nuclear Option, both Double IPAs, and an IPA called Yuuuuge. District’s beers carry clever, politically charged names, but “we’re not pushing any agenda here,” Potenza says. “We thought using puns and phrases would bring lightness to such a politically heavy and controversial time. We’re all about love and good beer.” NIKO KROMMYDAS

Fermentery Form
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Opened: June 2017

Eschewing the traditional brewery start-up methods, Philadelphia’s Fermentery Form leaves the brewing to a nearby compatriot, then ferments, ages, and blends on site. It’s just one of many idiosyncrasies: there’s no sign, hours are sporadic, and every beer is farmhouse or Lambic-inspired. “For being a relatively weird place—we’re down this dark alley, have a tiny, three-draft bar—people have been willing to come on the journey, and embrace our quirkiness,” owner Ethan Tripp admits. Of particular interest is the solera system, an aging method that blends beer fractionally over time. Though others have used the term loosely, Form’s solera is the real deal: a cascading system of barrels, as in the production of sherry. Consequently, these already funky, complex beers will evolve as the brewery ages, opening up endless blending possibilities. MIKE MADAIO

Fifth Hammer Brewing Company
Long Island City, New York
Opened: October 2017

Chris Cuzme has brewed commercially in New York City for most of the last decade, with stints at KelSo Beer Co., 508 GastroBrewery, and Gun Hill Brewing. His desire to “create beers for the consumer with complete freedom” led him to found Fifth Hammer Brewing Company with former lawyer David Scharfstein. Cuzme pulled from his collection of more than 300 vintage hammers to create handles for the taps that dispense his wide range of memorable beers. These include Wonderful Nonsense IPA, Neighborbraü Pilsner, and the Giggle Gaggle series of Berliner Weisses made with different fruits. Cuzme is also a saxophonist and every Wednesday, or “Cuzday,” the taproom hosts live jazz. “We aim to be a hub of local community and fun, celebrating the flavors of life through both melody and beer,” he says. NIKO KROMMYDAS

Fox Farm Brewery
Salem, Connecticut
Opened: May 2017

Fox Farm Brewery is a celebration of the rural life. On a 30-acre parcel of farmland in Connecticut’s southeast corner, Fox Farm’s brewhouse and two-floor tasting room are neatly housed in a former dairy barn. There are plenty of details, from the shovel handle taps to the yoke on the wall, to remind you of agrarian pride. Brewmaster Zack Adams first gained attention when his IPA was selected as a 2012 Samuel Adams Longshot American Homebrew Contest winner. Now, Adams continues to impress with beers like the aromatic Burst IPA, the viscous Hearth Bound Robust Porter, and the subtly funky Zyto, a farmhouse ale made with rye bread. To enjoy a gentle Pilsner like Gather under the shadow of a giant silo is pretty close to perfection. WILL SISS

Reason Beer
Charlottesville, Virginia
Opened: August 2017

Reason is comprised of a trio of native Virginians—former Maine Beer Co. director of brewing operations Mark Fulton, L.A.-based art director Patrick Adair, and economist Jeff Raileanu—who reconnected in the Old Dominion in 2017 to open this modest-ABV brewery. Fulton oversees the 30-barrel Virginia-built brewhouse, crafting a core lineup that includes a Blonde, a Pale Ale, a hoppy Black Ale, and a Grisette-style farmhouse ale. Taking cues from Fulton’s former employer, Reason eschews cans and packages in handsome 500-milliliter bottles adorned with Adair’s minimalist black and white labels. “We wanted something that would look good on the dinner table,” he says. The beers are sold via the brewery tasting room on weekends and in bars and bottle shops throughout eastern Virginia and Washington DC. JUSTIN KENNEDY

Vanished Valley Brewing Company
Ludlow, Massachusetts
Opened: March 2017

In Vanished Valley’s cramped 600-square-foot brewery, Josh Britton crafts highly-praised New England-style IPAs as his two flagship beers: Pomona and Watershed, each of which “feature massive flavor and aromas of citrus, tropical and passion fruits paired with the soft mouthfeel we all love so much in the NEIPA style,” according to the co-founder and head brewer. The brewery, named for the lost towns disincorporated by the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir, has since added a Double IPA, an experimental series of mostly hop-forward beers, and a Chocolate Milk Stout to its menu. Currently open several times each week for can sales, Vanished Valley aims to expand its production and build a taproom in 2018. MATT OSGOOD 

Southeast

 

Photo by David Valle

Barrel Culture Brewing and Blending
Durham, North Carolina
Opened: October 2017

With each pour at Barrel Culture Brewing and Blending, the sensory experience extends beyond aroma and taste to vivid colors that include deep maroon, bright yellow, and even neon green. “We’re fighting for that new-age experience of craft beer where crazy colors or crazy flavors are part of it all,” says Steve English, head brewer and co-owner. Concocting creative barrel-aged beers is commonplace these days, but this business, which focuses on wild and sour production, adds an extra layer of excitement for drinkers. Some kind of fruit or adjunct is added to every batch as a way to go beyond smell and taste. “A majority of others do classic styles: a Blonde, Pale Ale, or Porter,” English says. “But as a craft beer nerd, it’s boring to me unless we evolve with the market.” BRYAN ROTH

Brewery Bhavana
Raleigh, North Carolina
Opened: March 2017

The bookstore, flower shop, and restaurant at Brewery Bhavana provide an array of worthy distractions, from dim sum to colorful bouquets. Yet for all the ways Bhavana stands apart, the creations of head brewer Patrick Woodson command attention. Inspired by Belgian tradition with an American flair, fruits and spices add memorable yet restrained flavors to Saisons and abbey-style beers. But it’s Till, a 4.8 percent ABV farmhouse ale, that hits the highest note among a chorus of options. “When you come in, you’re already set up to have to be a little open, which allows us to have a wide range of beers for people,” says Woodson, who opened the spot with Vansana and Vanvisa Nolintha, siblings and Laotian restauranteurs. “We’re always trying to focus on subtlety to have a variety of beers for a variety of experiences.” BRYAN ROTH

Brieux Carré Brewing Company
New Orleans, Louisiana
Opened: April 2017

This shotgun-style taproom is only a stone’s throw from dozens of music clubs and bars on Frenchmen Street. Combining a prime foot traffic location with New Orleans’ liberal open container laws results in brisk go-cup sales of Wookie Sounds, a hoppy Saison, and Lullaby for a Hobbit, a New England-style IPA. Those who stay can chill out in the backyard beer garden (inside is insanely tiny) and enjoy a wide variety of beer styles. “We’re in a unique era of beer where craft beer drinkers are talking beer politics and taking what they consume very seriously. Maybe too seriously,” owner Robert Bostick says. “Now that we have a team dedicated to creating and always improving upon quality beer, 2018 will be dedicated to us letting our goofy, sarcastic, dry humor fly free.” NORA MCGUNNIGLE

Photo by Ale Sharpton

From the Earth Brewing Company
Roswell, Georgia
Opened: November 2017

An accomplished Atlanta fine-dining restaurateur, Tim Stevens parlayed his expertise into From the Earth Brewing in Roswell, a brewpub with a menu even the most critical gourmand would appreciate. “We wanted to bring some qualities of a fine-dining restaurant in a casual atmosphere,” Stevens explains. “Georgia really didn’t have a concept of this nature.” To develop the beer program, Stevens brought on veteran brewmaster Kevin McNerney—the co-founder of SweetWater Brewing Company—as a consultant. In the industrial-chic dining room, a steady rotation of IPAs, wheat beers, Imperial Stouts, and Belgian-influenced ales brewed on site share taps with local breweries including Variant, Gate City, and Creature Comforts. A 30-minute drive north of Atlanta, From the Earth has made exploring beyond the ATL’s perimeter a must for foodies and beer drinkers. DENNIS MALCOLM BYRON

Munkle Brewing Company
Charleston, South Carolina
Opened: October 2017

While Charleston is in no short supply of quality beer, the so-called Holy City was without its own Trappist-inspired ale maker until October 2017. Filling the void is Munkle Brewing Company, set in the midst of downtown’s densely trafficked historic district. “We focus on abbey, Belgian, and barrel-aged beers,” explains owner and operator Palmer Quimby, who named the operation after his uncle, who began brewing at a Benedictine monastery in Michigan. Quimby’s stable of beers includes a Witbier, a Blonde, a Dubbel, and Brugge City Brune—a Belgian Brown Ale that’s authenticity is amped up by Belgian candi syrup. A shiny, new taproom showcases a 20-barrel brewhouse and is open to the public six days a week. Quimby envisions it as an urban portal to a Flemish farmhouse—one that’s already garnered a devout following. BRAD JAPHE

Ology Brewing Company
Tallahassee, Florida
Opened: June 2017

Ology Brewing burst on to the young Tallahassee beer scene in the summer of 2017. Founder and head brewer Nick Walker says the name is a nod to his family of researchers; his father and grandfather studied olfaction and taste at Florida State University. Walker has carried that legacy forward by experimenting with the limitless potential of flavors in his beers. The brewery’s IPA game is anchored by Sensory Overload, a New England-style IPA with tropical and citrus notes, and the session-strength Tesla’s Pigeon. Like many other Florida breweries, Ology’s Berliners are light and ripe with fruit treatments in its sought-after Juice Lab series, but Walker is a fan of traditional styles as well, brewing Good Idea Altbier and P-Value Pale Ale to round off Ology’s tap list. MARK DENOTE

Parleaux Beer Lab
New Orleans, Louisiana
Opened: April 2017

Eric and Leah Jensen built Parleaux (roughly translated as “by the water”) Beer Lab to bring fun and creative beer to New Orleans, and a community space to its Bywater neighborhood. “Breweries bring a cool element to a neighborhood,” Eric Jensen says. “We’re producing something awesome while providing a space for customers and families to congregate.” Parleaux’s backyard is a wide expanse of DIY furniture, green space, and fruit trees. The citrus on the trees is used in smaller batches of barrel-aged beer, while the brewery garden provides herbs for beers such as Lemony Sippet Lemongrass Lager. Jensen hopes to develop his barrel program even further in 2018 (though he’s not sure where all the barrels will be stored in the small space). NORA MCGUNNIGLE 

Väsen Brewing Company
Richmond, Virginia
Opened: July 2017

Former Tesla Motors engineer Joey Darragh partnered with his cousin, brewmaster Tony Giordano, to co-found this sprawling Scandinavian-themed brewery in Richmond’s burgeoning brewery district, Scott’s Addition. (The Veil Brewing and Ardent Craft Ales, profiled in BA’s roundup of new breweries in 2016 and 2014, respectively, are each a block away.) Giordano has become known for his so-called American Pale Saisons, a yeast-driven hybrid of hoppy Pale Ales and Belgian Saisons, and works with the brewery’s resident Ph.D., Jon Warner, to propagate local and wild cultures in the on-site laboratory. A love for the outdoors and the environment is threaded throughout the brewery, with a massive faux-rock ledge bar in the tasting room and a selection of quirky Väsen-branded merch, like camping hatchets and chalk bags for rock climbers. JUSTIN KENNEDY

Midwest

Barrel Theory Beer Company
St. Paul, Minnesota
Opened: June 2017

Barrel Theory is built on three ideals: creativity, control, and experience. Its hop-heavy, rotating list features unfiltered IPAs backed up by flavored Stouts and kettle sours with “comical amounts of fruit.” They want to communicate not only what the beer is, but where it’s been, how it’s kept and why it’s in a particular glass. The taproom-only model lets them control their beer from mash to glass, and the experience here is warm and welcoming. The intimate space showcases the wood and brick of its 19th-century space. Whether knowledgeable regular or beer newbie, the thoroughly trained staff strives to make every guest feel comfortable. “We don’t want anyone to feel judged if they’ve never had a kettle-soured Berliner before,” says co-founder Brett Splinter. MICHAEL AGNEW

Half Brothers Brewing Company
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Opened: October 2017

North Dakota’s newest brewery is a family affair, created by half brothers Chad Gunderson and Taylor Nord and a band of friends and family. Half Brothers Brewing Company’s Grand Forks taproom is a laid-back spot where foodies nosh on homemade pizza and house-pickled veggies while beer nerds analyze the latest mystery fruit Gose. A thirst-quenching golden ale, a juicy, hazy New England IPA, a coffee Brown Ale and a zingy chokecherry Gose are always on tap. The remaining eight lines rotate in a nonstop, taste-testing experiment. “We try to keep it live, keep it interesting,” says Gunderson, who previously brewed at Mighty Mo Brewing Company, Lewis & Clark Brewing Company, and Rhombus Guys Brewing Company. “We’re taking traditional styles and putting a unique twist on them.” ALICIA NELSON

HOMES Brewery
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Opened: April 2017

Ann Arbor isn’t short on locally made beer, says Tommy Kennedy, but when he decided to start HOMES Brewery a couple years ago, the type of beer he wanted to drink wasn’t available in the area. So he wrote up a business plan, hired a brewer (Nick Panchamé, formerly of Right Brain Brewery), and began making the hop-forward IPAs he’d enjoyed on the East Coast (“aroma rather than bitterness,” he says), along with kettle sours; eventually there will be barrel-aged sours as well. The dozen-odd rotating beers, available only at the taproom, are a mix of straightforward styles (Oatmeal Stout, Golden Ale) and quirky ones (matcha-mango or blueberry-basil sours). “We do the beers we like, hopefully everyone else likes it too,” says Kennedy. JULIA THIEL 

Photo by Mike Crupi

Masthead Brewing Company
Cleveland, Ohio
Opened: January 2017

Recent engineering graduates Frank Luther and Mike Pelechaty didn’t follow the expected career path coming out of Ohio State. With co-founder Matt Slife, they took the plunge into brewing, and they dove in the deep end, opening a 16,000-square-foot brewery and taproom with a 20-barrel brewing system in downtown Cleveland. In the open kitchen, a red-tiled Neapolitan pizza oven spits out wood-fired pies. Their approach is “to apply our technical background to brewing beers we like to drink with a goal of fusing flavor with quality,” Luther explains. The brewery has met early success: it took home a bronze medal in the Double Red Ale category at the Great American Beer Festival for its Midwest Red IPA, and its beers are already being served at the nearby Cleveland Cavalier and Cleveland Browns games. BILL BABBITT 

On Tour Brewing Company
Chicago, Illinois
Opened: January 2017

As a teen, Mark Legenza would tour the country with his friends, borrowing their parents’ minivans to follow Phish and Grateful Dead offshoots. “It was a time in my life when I was very much living in the moment,” he says. By naming his brewery On Tour and creating an environment that’s welcoming to everyone, no matter where they’re from, he aimed to recapture that adventurous spirit. One key, he says, is brewing a wide range of styles so that anyone can find something they enjoy. “We’re all over the board,” Legenza says. It seems to be working for him: at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival, On Tour won a gold medal for its Maibock and a silver for its Doppelbock, along with the Very Small Brewing Company of the Year award. JULIA THIEL

Speciation Artisan Ales
Comstock Park, Michigan
Opened: January 2017

Ex-Former Future/Black Project brewer Mitch Ermatinger returned home to Michigan to open this wild ale brewery with his wife and partner Whitney. Like Black Project, Speciation focuses on mixed fermentation and wild beers. But rather than brewing their own wort, the Ermatingers source from Grand Rapids-area breweries and spruce it up with house cultures, culinary flourishes, and barrel treatments. Speciation’s big hit in year one was the Incipient series of golden sours, with the tequila barrel variant—which also featured blood orange, pink guava, lime, and salt—being the star. Such beers may sound overwrought, but Speciation’s are exceedingly restrained and nuanced. “Our focus is on crafting beers that are ultimately drinkable,” says Mitch. Look for a new taproom and an ambitious mobile coolship program this year. JUSTIN KENNEDY 

Third Wheel Brewing
St. Peters, Missouri
Opened: June 2017

Located in a strip mall in a space vacated by a fitness center, it’s easy to overlook Third Wheel Brewing when driving past, but you’d be missing out on some of the tastiest new beer in greater St. Louis. Brewer Abbey Spencer prides herself on placing subtle spins on traditional styles, like adding “a big bag of lactose” to Third Wheel’s signature double IPA, Dyslexic API. “It’s really citrusy with a dank hoppiness,” Spencer says, “and the lactose gives it that creamy mouthfeel that really sets it apart.” Spencer currently has more than 16 of her creations on tap, and eventually plans to take over all 22 of the bar’s taps. But co-owner Brad Wheeling says Third Wheel has no plans to expand statewide. “We’re content to be the neighborhood brewpub,” Wheeling says. ROBERT ANNIS

Utepils Brewing
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Opened: February 2017

It was 20 minutes into the interview before anyone even mentioned the beer. And that’s fine with the folks at Utepils (pronounced Uh-tuh-pilz). Their philosophy can be summed up in a single quote. “I think what people like to do is tell stories,” says co-founder Daniel Justesen. “I think beer is a lubricant for that. It’s a social beverage.” Their European-style beers are built for that—sessionable and flavorful, but not demanding of your attention. Subtle, simple, classic pub beers that stand the test of time. The spacious, beer hall-like taproom also fits that theme. A family celebrating a child’s birthday party isn’t out of place here. A Crock Pot of chili at the table would be no surprise. At Utepils, it’s all about facilitating that social experience around delicious beer. MICHAEL AGNEW 

White Rooster Farmhouse Brewery
Sparta, Illinois
Opened: March 2017

With its exposed bowstring trusses and rustic interior, it’s only fitting that Illinois’ White Rooster—located about an hour southeast of St. Louis in Sparta, specializes in barrel-aged and Belgian-style farmhouse offerings. The brewery has nine continuously rotating beers on tap, with a New England-style IPA and a Berliner Weisse the only constants. And even those may reappear with new hop or fruit additions. “We want to keep things fresh and fun and interesting,” says co-owner and brewer Eric Ogilvie, who opened the brewery with Chris Van Horn and Michael Deutschmann. “Plus, it’s more beneficial to have a draft list that’s always changing; people come from St. Louis and elsewhere on a regular basis because they know they’ll get to try new beers.” ROBERT ANNIS 

Southwest

Photos by Jessica Attie

Lazarus Brewing
Austin, Texas
Opened: January 2017

Take a trip to the east side of the famous 6th Street in Austin, Texas, and you’ll see firsthand why the city is fast becoming known for more than just live music. The religion-inspired Lazarus Brewing Co., headed by practicing pastor Christian Cryder, started off its first year with a gold medal at 2017’s Great American Beer Festival for Amandus, a Belgian Strong Golden Ale. “Hopefully my faith is not some gimmick, but a reflection of who I am as a person,” says Cryder, who snagged Matt Couch, the former brewing manager for Pennsylvania’s Victory, and launched the brewery with his wife Marilyn. Cryder and company are already playing an integral role in the revitalization of East Austin, infusing the neighborhood with their own unique personalities, all the while embracing its historic feel. JEREMY BANAS 

Revision Brewing Company
Sparks, Nevada
Opened: March 2017

When founding brewer Jeremy Warren modified his vision for a second brewery, he realized it looked less and less like Knee Deep Brewing (the Sacramento brewery he helped launch to great acclaim). Hence, since Revision’s opening last March in the Reno area, not only does the brewhouse look and feel the way he wants, he’s enjoying “the creative freedom to develop products as we see fit.” Chiefly, that means releasing two new NEIPAs monthly. Warren’s favorite is Disco Ninja with Citra, Galaxy, Mosaic, and Amarillo run through the theoretical juicer. Yes, 24 hazies get canned annually, and that’s on top of Project Humulus Lupulus (which includes a hoppy Helles), the Revenge series, and taproom-only Skunkwerks Experimental beers. Some of the latter are neither pale nor hazy and will eventually resurface after barrel aging. BRIAN YAEGER

Stonecloud Brewing Company
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Opened: June 2017

Vacant and abandoned since the mid-1980s, Oklahoma City’s Sunshine Laundry building saw new life in 2017 when Stonecloud Brewing Company moved in and set up shop. Founded by Joel Irby, who cut his teeth as a brewer with Colorado’s Avery Brewing, Stonecloud was inspired by the mountains of Colorado that he hiked for 14 years. Much like those unforgiving Rocky Mountains, Irby is doing things his way. “We aren’t trying to be anybody’s first craft beer,” Irby told the Oklahoma Gazette. “Are we going to have a beer in the taproom that a Bud Light drinker would enjoy? Sure. But we’re not going to dumb the beer down just to sell more product.” According to the Oklahoma native, the IPAs will be brazenly hoppy and the sours will make you pucker. JEREMY BANAS

West

 

Cellar West Artisan Ales
Boulder, Colorado
Opened: December 2016

When a huge crowd turned out for a bottle release of his pleasantly sour version of an Imperial Breakfast Stout, Zach Nichols could only shrug and smile. Where was the crowd, he wondered, when one of the delicate farmhouse ales he loves to create is released? No matter. Pretty much everything coming out of the snug taproom behind a strip club and a homeless shelter on Boulder’s northern edge is worthy of attention. Most of Cellar West’s beers are fermented in oak barrels with a house blend of wild yeast. “What I like to do is create expressive, nuanced beer that’s not aggressive,” says Nichols, who previously co-founded Boulder’s Sanitas. One of those beers, a Saison called Make Hay, won a silver medal at last year’s Great American Beer Festival. ERIC GORSKI

Photo by Leap Photography

Clairvoyant Brewing Company
Boise, Idaho
Opened: September 2017

Boise’s West Downtown is vibrant and growing fast, but was missing a neighborhood brewery until Clairvoyant Brewing celebrated its grand opening with a packed house. Owners Mike Edmondson, Tim Carter, and Ryan Kowalczyk share a love of traditional ales and lagers while head brewer Eric Brooks brings an energetic commitment to sour beers and innovation. The group knows brewing quality beer begins with lots of hard work. “We were our own general contractor and did the vast majority of the build-out ourselves,” says Edmondson. Filling 16 taps off a modest 7-barrel system requires a creative balance, but their passion is paying off—on any given night, seats at the bar are at a premium. Boiseans appreciate the outdoors and quality local beer. Just two minutes from the river and 20 from the mountains, it’s likely that Clairvoyant will scratch that itch well into the future. TOBY SHAW

Photo by Cory Anderson

Girdwood Brewing Company
Girdwood, Alaska
Opened: March 2017

Twin brothers Brett and Rory Marenco felt the good people of Girdwood, Alaska, deserved fresh beer. Make that “super fresh” beer, says Brett. A ski town with a close-knit year-round population, Girdwood had plenty of places to grab a beer, but, unlike pretty much every other resort town on the planet, didn’t have a brewery of its own. The Marenco brothers’ ski-themed brewery and taproom, which they opened with three of their friends, has quickly become one of the town’s best hangs. That fresh beer flavor is at its finest in their No Woman No Cryo, a New England-style IPA. Brett says the brew has “more juiciness and fruitiness” to it than the West Coast IPAs their customers were accustomed to. A fine reason to come down off the mountain. JENNA SCHNUER

Green Cheek Beer Company
Orange, California
Opened: June 2017

In 2016, Noble Ale Works in Anaheim, Calif., was named best small brewery at the World Beer Cup. Within a year, Noble’s brewmaster Evan Price and CEO Brian Rauso had left to launch Green Cheek Beer Co. in nearby Orange, where they continue to flex their expertise. “I try to ride the line,” Price says of his beers, which range from hoppy Pilsners to hazy IPAs (yes, there are can releases). “I’m always looking to find balance in some way—always aiming for that age-old ‘drinkability.’” Despite his global reputation (or perhaps because of it), Price’s tap lists remain ambitious. He tackles traditional, Old World beers (German lagers, a Berlinerweiss) just as readily as he brews original takes on the latest trends (coconut milkshake IPA, salty grapefruit shandy). “I’m not at all interested in staying put,” he says. SARAH BENNETT

Inu Island Ales
Kaneohe, Hawaii
Opened: October 2017

As explosive as Hawaii’s newfound beer boom has been, it’s remarkable that the Aloha State had to wait until November to see its first brewery opening last year. Inu Island is making up for lost time with an eclectic collection of styles, in cans and crowlers, out of a nondescript garage on Oahu’s windward coast. Head brewer Kyle McDonald, who co-founded the brewery with Jayson Pizarro, hails from Northern California, and brings with him a penchant for heavily-hopped ales and tart-forward sours. They’re making waves in the former category with a crushable IPA drowning in the juiciness of Galaxy and Citra hops. As for its first foray into wild ales, Inu Island Sour is a mellow, low-ABV variation intended to ease the island into a style of beer that has seen only limited success so far. BRAD JAPHE

Photo by Suraya Barbee

Level Beer
Portland, Oregon
Opened: August 2017

Geoff Phillips never wanted to open a brewery. But the owner of Bailey’s Taproom did want a spacious beer garden pouring sessionable beers. And to make that work, he needed a brewery. A decade ago, Bailey’s was the place Phillips wanted to drink. “Now that I’m married with two children I’m trying to find that next location that I want to be drinking,” he says. Phillips found the perfect space in a two-acre plot that previously housed a produce market. It even came with a greenhouse, ideal for drizzly Portland. Once he had the space, he teamed with Jason Barbee (Ex Novo) and Shane Watterson (Laurelwood) to open Level, a 20-barrel destination brewery. Level has honored its “brewed with balance” motto with a steady supply of interesting but sessionable beers, but Phillips is even more excited to open the rest of the space, which will include a large lawn area for kids. MARTIN CIZMAR

Little Beast Brewing
Beaverton, Oregon
Opened: April 2017

The last brewery that tried to make it in Beaverton was Brannon’s, a steampunk concept that flamed out in less than a year. Little Beast is the silver lining. The former Brannon’s is now a restaurant and whiskey bar. The owner subleased the space to Charles Porter, a journeyman brewer whose resume includes Upland, Deschutes, Full Sail, and Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, where he made a splash with beers like the much sought-after Peche ‘n’ Brett. Little Beast’s 10-barrel system isn’t much to speak of, but the beers to emerge have been extraordinary. Its twin flagships, Fera Brett Saison and Bes Tart Wheat Ale, employ mixed cultures and a little sourness to create impressive depth. “After over two decades of brewing, I have finally realized a long and final chapter in my career by founding Little Beast,” Porter says. “My wife and I look forward to many years of creating new beers.” MARTIN CIZMAR

Matchless Brewing
Tumwater, Washington
Opened: December 2016

Located in Tumwater, Wash., Matchless Brewing quickly built a reputation for its wide variety of top notch beers. Shortly after opening, Matchless brought home five medals at the Washington Beer Awards. The brewery reached its production capacity of 2,000 barrels in the first year and is already expanding. “Things have gone really well,” says Patrick Jansen, head brewer and co-owner. “We went into business with a huge amount of support and trust from bars, bottle shops, and restaurants in Washington and Oregon.” The brewery shares space with the taproom, with a waist-high wall separating the two. Long communal tables and comfy couches fill the large taproom, where visitors will notice lots of Olympia Beer memorabilia—Tumwater is the historic home of that iconic Pacific Northwest brand. KENDALL JONES 

Mountains Walking Brewery
Bozeman, Montana
Opened: September 2017

When Gustav Dose opened Mountains Walking Brewery in Bozeman, Mont., in September, he wanted it to reflect his passion for Asia. Founder and brewer Dose grew up in Taiwan and Japan and worked at production breweries around the world. He named Mountains Walking after the teachings of Japanese philosopher Dogen. “I always feel humbled by beer and by what brewing is,” Dose says. With 7,000 square feet of production space, a 10-barrel brewhouse, and two 1,000-gallon cypress foeders, Mountains Walking produces a number of flagship brews, like Grazing Clouds, a New England IPA which Dose describes as “very hop forward, but not hop bitterness forward.” Junegrass IPA and an apricot sour are other favorites. The brewery plans on adding sake and barrel-aging programs in the future and serves wood-fired pizza among other eats. KRISTEN POPE

Outer Range Brewing Company
Frisco, Colorado
Opened: December 2016

The haze craze has reached 9,097 feet above sea level, to a shopping center with a Whole Foods supermarket and panoramic views of the Rockies. Outer Range Brewing Company opened its 70-seat taproom here in the last days of 2016, taking a risk by offering but two kinds of beer: IPAs and Belgian styles. Brewer and co-owner Lee Cleghorn quickly gained a reputation for a deep roster of hazy, juicy New England-style IPAs. Like countless others before, he and wife and co-owner Emily were drawn to life in the high country—and it’s central to the beer they’re trying to create. “We wanted to be an aspirational brand that talked about that part of the human spirit that drives people to the mountains—that drives people to inspirational places to do inspiring things,” says Cleghorn. ERIC GORSKI

SouthNorte Beer Company
San Diego, California
Opened: September 2017

After earning numerous awards as brewmaster at Coronado Brewing Company, Ryan Brooks struck out on his own to focus on beers inspired by the culture and flavors of Mexico. “I’d like to shock people and have them say ‘Wow, [Mexican brewers] are making beer just as good as Belgians or Germans,’” he says. Although SouthNorte currently brews at Coronado, the goal is to find a production space near the international border. For now, Brooks is concentrating on using Mexican ingredients (chocolate, fruits, corn), and collaborations with Mexican breweries, but his individual recipes have already garnered attention. “Agavemente,” infused with hibiscus and agave, earned bronze at last year’s Great American Beer Festival. Brooks’ vision for the future? “I want to bring more attention to the cultures: the rustic vibe of Tijuana with the history and voice of San Diego.” BETH DEMMON

Spada Farmhouse Brewery
Snohomish, Washington
Opened: September 2017

In 2016, John Spada decided to open a brewery on the farm that his great-grandfather homesteaded in 1912. The taproom, which opened last year, is located nearby in downtown Snohomish, a small, rural town about 45 minutes north of Seattle. The space is cozy and homey, with a few large tables and walls adorned with knickknacks, historical photos, and taxidermy. It’s usually crowded and there’s often someone named Spada slinging pints behind the bar. Several breweries have popped up recently in this tight-knit community, but Spada Farmhouse Brewery is the only one focused entirely on sour beers. “The Washington beer market is getting increasingly crowded,” explains John. “Fortunately, my favorite type of beer to drink and brew is barrel-aged sours. Focusing on sours allowed me to find a niche.” KENDALL JONES

Wild Barrel Brewing Company
San Marcos, California
Opened: September 2017

Gone are the days in brewery-heavy San Diego when simply opening a new spot was sufficient to get the locals excited. So what are co-founder “Dr.” Bill Sysak’s four keys to success? “Quality, quality, quality… and staying hyperfocused on what is driving the market.” Unsurprisingly, that means “IPAs (both West Coast and North East), kettle sours, Stouts, and barrel-aged beers.” Sysak is already a local beer célèbre, most recently as the cigar-pairing face of Stone. But for the project’s namesake barrels gone wild, San Diegans can look to Preston Weesner. Previously the lead blender at Portland’s Cascade Brewing Barrel House, Weesner already has plans aplenty for the barrel-aging program. Expect a cornucopia of fruits, spices, and spirit and wine casks, too. Nothing will drive folks into the pub faster than the chance to try one-and-done blends. BRIAN YAEGER

Yorkshire Square Brewery
Torrance, California
Opened: May 2017

Andy Black finds joy in historic British-style beers—like the complex cask-conditioned Milds, Pales, Goldens, and Porters that he brews and serves from hand-pump beer engines at Yorkshire Square Brewery in Torrance, Calif. “You just don’t see them anymore,” the head brewer says of some of the recipes he’s uncovered over the years. “It bothers me that those ideas just got abandoned.” Black is one of the West Coast’s most hardcore advocates of cask, and Yorkshire’s tasting room aims to create the perfect pint. Evincing his success, Yorkshire Square recently became one of only a few places in America to earn a Cask Marque certification. But the emphasis on unfiltered, naturally carbonated, cellar-temperature beers requires more consumer education in IPA-loving Southern California. “We are in this for the long term instead of trying to chase a trend,” Black says. SARAH BENNETT 

Canada

 

Photo by Clara Huizink

2 Crows Brewing Company
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Opened: January 2017

With more breweries per capita than almost any other province, it can be tough to set yourself apart in Nova Scotia. But 2 Crows has done just that by veering away from the English-style beers dominating the Halifax scene. Instead, here you’ll find flagship brews like a table beer and an oat Pilsner, and seasonals that have included a dry-hopped Witbier, a Calvados foeder-aged Tripel, and a Finnish-inspired Imperial Stout. “My beers are out there and exciting for beer nerds, but they’re not going to be so out there that they’re gonna isolate your uncle who only drinks Bud Light Lime,” says head brewer Jeremy Taylor. The bright downtown taproom matches the modern take on the beer: high ceilings, shiny fermentors nearby, and a giant geometric mural with radiant yellows, oranges, and blues. JORDAN WHITEHOUSE

Annex Ale Project
Calgary, Alberta
Opened: May 2017

Beer power couple Erica O’Gorman and Andrew Bullied aim to take the Alberta beer scene to the next level. And the website for their Annex Ale Project sums it up beautifully: “For a long time, we’ve wanted to make the kind of beer that would appeal to beer drinkers and big thinkers.” Focusing on its surrounding community and creating beers made with local malt from local maltsters helps to differentiate Annex Ales. But staying local doesn’t mean the brewery, which released 32 beers in 2017, is not influenced by other markets. “We take inspiration from the beer scene in the Pacific Northwest,” says Bullied of the brewery he helped open. “We want to brew more aggressive, more hop-forward beers than we’re used to seeing in Alberta… We are building our niche within a niche.” DON TSE

Photo by Joe Wiebe

Backcountry Brewing
Squamish, British Columbia
Opened: April 2017

Long perceived as just a rest stop on the drive to Whistler, Squamish has become a popular option for urban expats fleeing the high cost of housing in Vancouver—an even more attractive move now that this town of 20,000 has three breweries. Backcountry, the latest to open, has a log cabin-themed tasting room offering gourmet pizza to go along with a diverse beer list. “We make a lot of lagers because we love to drink them,” says brewer John Folinsbee, who is actually best known for his (hazy) IPAs. When it comes to the future, Folinsbee is most excited by the prospect of mixed fermentation. “I want to build a barrel stable that’s big enough so we can do it properly,” he dreams. “To me, blending is what sour beer is all about.” JOE WIEBE

Blind Enthusiasm
Edmonton, Alberta
Opened: July 2017

If money was no object, what would your brewery look like? Greg Zeschuk, who helped found, then sell, a very successful video game company before developing a passion for beer, has answered that question in Edmonton, Alberta. Blind Enthusiasm reflects Zeschuk’s jump-in-with-both-feet approach to life. It’s really two breweries: a brewpub featuring “clean” beers designed to pair with food, and a physically separated sour beer facility. Dubbed “The Monolith,” it’s helmed by a head brewer with a resume that includes stints at Le Trou du Diable, Cantillon, and Brasserie de la Senne. “We didn’t spare any expense, but now we are expected to perform at a high level,” says Zeschuk. Initial impressions of brewpub beers like OKT 1.0 lager are favorable, but the public is anxiously awaiting Monolith beers (expected summer 2018). DON TSE

Photo by Isaac MacIntyre

Copper Bottom Brewing Company
Montague, Prince Edward Island
Opened: November 2017

The historic building at 567 Main Street in Montague has always been a community gathering point: first it was a town hall, then a fire hall, a jail, a library, a hardware store, and, finally, a newspaper office. Now husband-and-wife duo Ashley Condon and Ken Spears are bringing their eastern PEI town together over pints of brews, live music, and views of the Montague River. They’ve started with three beers—a Blonde, a Brown Ale, and an APA with a clean citrus finish and hints of pine—though a few kettle sours and Brett beers are on the way. “My beer recipes usually take a long time to nail down,” says Spears. “I get uncomfortable if things come too easy, and, more often than not, new ideas come to light during this process.” JORDAN WHITEHOUSE

Godspeed Brewery
Toronto, Ontario
Opened: July 2017

Toronto’s Godspeed Brewery marries two of founder and brewmaster Luc “Bim” Lafontaine’s passions: Japanese culture and Quebecois ingenuity. “My philosophy for everything in my business is refined simplicity,” says the former head brewer at Dieu du Ciel!, who opened a brewpub in Japan in 2014. Designer Michel Rousseau hammered scrap metal sheets along the brewery’s 25-foot bar in Japanese “Boro” (indigo patchwork) style. On tap, classic styles like Dortmunder and Smoked Porter stand alongside clean, tart Saisons and ales that provide a canvas for subtle infusions of Japanese ingredients like yuzu and green tea that Bim harvests annually on his “adopted” tea plantation in Sanogawa, Japan. The kitchen, headed by Chef Ryusuke Yamanaka (Momofuku, Nobu) serves Japanese “comfort food” like Katsu Sando (pork cutlet sandwich), and Yaki Onigiri (grilled rice balls). CRYSTAL LUXMORE

Microbrasserie Au Frontibus
Rivière-au-Renard, Quebec
Opened: September 2017

The wind-blasted Gaspé Peninsula isn’t the first place that comes to mind as a thriving beer hub, but it’s resembling one more and more with the addition of Microbrasserie Au Frontibus in the seaside town of Rivière-au-Renard. The largely family operated brewery joins a growing circuit of quality brewers in the Gaspé, but has made a marked point to focus on Belgian and English styles, with some added twists. “It’s very important for us to use healthy, local products in our beers,” founder Lydia Martin Bérubé explains. A smooth, rosehip-infused Witbier and a powerful Tripel brewed with Labrador tea showcases the brewery’s use of locally grown herbs. These creations underline the brewery’s intent to carve out a suitably bottle-fermented niche, in Quebec and beyond. LORCAN ARCHER  

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