Craft brewers, small independent brewers producing flavorsome ales and lagers are a growing fixture in the USA. The South too is now seeing a popularity in craft brewing, with locals producing high-quality ales, stouts, and lagers inspired by Belgian, English, and traditional American methods. Here are 10 of the best.
Back Forty Beer Company
The odds are stacked against the emergence of small independent craft breweries in Alabama. The beer of choice for most Alabamans is mass-produced light lager-style beer, with state laws prohibiting beers over six percent ABV. However, the Back Forty Beer Company has overcome obstacles to become a leading craft brewery in Gadsen, Alabama. Its first beer was the Naked Pig Pale Ale, followed a year later by its Stop Honey Brown Ale which won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival. Since then the company has grown to employ 20 staff, with new releases including Freckle Belly IPA and Kudzu Porter.
The Abita Brewing Company is based in Abita Springs 30 miles north of New Orleans, Louisiana and is rated one of the USA’s premier craft breweries. The brewery has produced excellent beer since 1986 and production has now reached 151,000 barrels each year. Ingredients are brought in from across the world such as British malted barley and yeast from Germany, and mixed with the finest produce from North America including pure water from the local springs. The brewery offers various flagship beers including light, golden, and amber lagers, an IPA, a Restoration Pale Ale, Purple Haze lager made with raspberries, and the Turbodog dark brown ale, as well as seasonal and special beers.
Based in Austin, Texas, Adelbert’s Brewery creates award-winning Belgian-style ales using traditional high quality hops and barley bought from Europe. The brewery began life as a tribute by Scott Hovey to his late brother George Adelbert Hovey. Joining forces with fellow home brewer Taylor Ziebarth, Hovey resolved to produce top-notch beers using Belgian brewing methods. The ingredients include low alpha Czech hops and Bohemian floor-malted barley. This approach has both provided drinkers with excellent beers and won plaudits for Adelbert’s Brewery; its Naked Nun ale won a silver medal at the World Beer Champions Awards, and Philosophizer, Tripel B, Black Rhino, and Scratchin’ Hippo gave taken gold medals at the Craft Beer Awards.
Peticolas Brewing Company
The Peticolas Brewing Company is a family-run venture that began in the mid-1990s when Michael Peticolas’ mother brewed her own beer at home in El Paso. The company is now based in Dallas and since its first production batch in 2011, its brews have won awards both in Dallas and nationwide. Year-round beers available from Peticolas include the light-brown, caramel-flavoured Velvet Hammer, the English Pale Ale Royal Scandal, and the German-style Golden Opportunity with further limited release winter beers available including Great Scot! and the Alfred Brown. Various Peticolas beers have won awards at the United States Beer Tasting Championships, with Royal Scandal winning a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival.
Lazy Magnolia Brewery
When the Lazy Magnolia Brewery was founded back 2003 it was the first package brewery in Mississippi since Prohibition laws were enacted in 1907. Mississippi only repealed these laws in 1966 and many counties remain legally dry. The first batch of Lazy Magnolia beer was produced in 2005 and the company now sells to outlets across the South. Amongst its beers is Southern Pecan, the very first beer in the world made using whole roasted pecan nuts and the 2006 winner of a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup. Other Lazy Magnolia beers include Jefferson Stout, Indian Summer wheat ale, Southern Hospitality IPA, and Southern Gentleman flavored with the Southern staples of bourbon and pecans.
The Highland Brewery in Asheville, North Carolina, was named after the many Scottish and Irish settlers of the Appalachian Mountains. The brewery began in 1994 and originally produced 6,500 barrels of beer a year as part of a three-man operation. Today the brewery produces 50,000 barrels each year, has 40 staff, and is one of the largest craft breweries in the South, supplying beer across the Southern states and the Midwest. Among the beers the brewery produce is the Black Mocha Stout which has taken silver medals at both the World Beer Championships and the Great American Beer Festival and has an indulgent and rich chocolate flavour. Other beers include Gaelic Ale, the original Highland beer, and Kashmir IPA.
Tennessee Brew Works
The aim of Tennessee Brew Works is to create beers that encapsulate the spirit of Tennessee as a whole; locally crafted, using high quality ingredients, and thoroughly independent. The headline beers include the Belgian-style Southern Wit, the Extra Easy English Pale Ale and the Cutaway Indian Pale Ale. Traditional American styles include the Basil Ryeman Tennessee Farmhouse Ale with a hint of Thai basil, and the Country Roots stout made with sweet potatoes. The brewery also produces seasonal beers including a summer Tennessee Farmhouse ale made with roasted beets and called the Farmer’s Beat.
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