A:Portland, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle, and Milwaukee might be the U.S.’s most widely acknowledged beer cities, but don’t discount the underdogs. Here are five unexpected brewery towns worth rooting for.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
With two dozen breweries in this southwestern hub of just more than 500,000 residents, Albuquerque is set to become a heavy hitter on the craft scene. In 2011, the Duke City’s La Cumbre Brewing Company took home top honors from the Great American Brew Festival for its Elevated IPA. New Mexico is high on hops, with breweries facing off each summer in the state’s IPA Challenge. Other acclaimed taprooms include Marble Brewery and Tractor Brewing.
The glasses are always frosted at the eight great breweries in this chilly state’s metropolis. Glacier Brewhouse boasts the seasonal Big Woody, a Great American Beer Festival (GABF) gold-medal barleywine; fruity IPAs and oak-aged Imperial Blondes are also on the menu there. You’ll find Midnight Sun Brewing Co.’s craft creations on tap in top bars throughout Alaska—in particular, the 20-inch Oosik Amber Ale, a German-style altbier named after a prominent protuberance of the male walrus.
Asheville, North Carolina
This southern town is too genteel to call attention to its accolades, which include being named 2010 BeerCity USA by Examiner.com readers. Asheville’s brewery acclaim began in 1994, with the ascent of the Highland Brewing Company, whose operation was built almost entirely from retrofitted dairy equipment. Highland’s Black Mocha Stout has taken home awards from the GABF and the World Beer Cup. For a neighborhood brewery, grab a barstool at Wedge Brewing in the River Arts District.
Vermont might be a small state, but with the highest number of breweries per capita, it’s marinating in stouts and ales. Burlington’s granddaddy establishment, Vermont Pub & Brewery, has three award-winners on tap: the Karlswalde Russian Imperial Stout, known for its warm finish; the Forbidden Fruit, blended with raspberries; and the caramel Burly Irish Ale. Magic Hat Brewing Company, one of the largest microbreweries in the U.S., is also based in Burlington.
Counting 24 breweries in its greater metropolitan area, this burg is Florida’s beertopia. Dunedin Brewery is the state’s oldest continuously operated brewery. It has a stable of solid taps, as well as seasonal hits such as Leonard Croon’s Old Mean Stout. Cigar City Brewing crafts a variety of ales perfect for sipping in the Florida heat, including the Jai Alai and Humidor Series IPAs. Saint Somewhere Brewing makes traditional Belgian-style ales, adding local ingredients such as Palmetto berries and hibiscus flowers.